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Title: Indoor climate and moisture durability performances of houses with unvented attic roof constructions in a mixed-humid climate.

A sealed or unvented attic is an energy-efficient envelope component that can reduce the amount of energy a house consumes for space conditioning if the air handler and/or ducts are located in the attic. The attic is typically sealed by using spray foam on the underside of the roof deck and covering the soffit, ridge and gable vents to minimize air leakage from the attic to the outside. This approach can save up to 10% in space-conditioning energy when ducts are located in the attic (DOE 2013). Past research done by ORNL and Florida Solar Energy Center suggests that in more hot, humid climates, an unvented attic could potentially create a more humid, uncomfortable living environment than a vented attic (Colon 2011, Boudreaux, Pallin et al. 2013). Research showed that controlling the higher indoor humidity could reduce the energy savings from the sealed, unvented attic, which in turn would decrease the energy savings payback. Research also showed that the roof assembly (5.5 inches of open-cell foam, 1inch of closed-cell foam, OSB, felt paper, and asphalt shingles) stored moisture, thus acting as a moisture buffer. During the fall and winter, the roof assembly stored moisture and during the spring and summermore » it released moisture. This phenomenon is not seen in a vented attic, in which the air exchange rate to the outside is greater and, in the winter, helps to dehumidify the attic air. It was also seen that in a vented attic, the direction of water vapor diffusion is on average from the attic to the interior of the house. Air leakage from the attic to the interior also occurs during more of the year in a house with an unvented attic than in one with a vented attic. These discoveries show that the moisture dynamics in a house with an unvented attic are much different from those in a house with a vented attic. This study reports on a series of computer model investigations completed to determine the key variables impacting indoor comfort and the durability of roof assemblies against moisture. The key variables investigated were the leakage area from the attic to the outside, leakage area from the attic to the interior, leakage area from the interior to the outside, supply duct leakage in the attic, and interior moisture generation. These investigations are described in this report.« less
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  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
BT0101000; CEBT114
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Building Technologies Research and Integration Center (BTRIC)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States