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Title: Sensitivity of occupant comfort models to humidity and their effect on cooling energy use

Abstract

Residential building energy consumption in the United States has decreased steadily during the last several decades largely because of advances in building codes as well as voluntary efficiency and labeling programs, which have resulted in the reduction in building sensible loads. Building latent loads have not decreased by the same amount, and field and analytical research studies have concluded that high-efficiency, low-load homes often have elevated indoor humidity levels, possibly leading to occupant discomfort. There are discrepancies in the literature on occupant comfort as it relates to indoor humidity and recommended upper humidity limits. The choice of humidity limit could potentially change results and conclusions on the energy impacts of a new air conditioner or dehumidifier technology, changing ventilation rates, or an improved building envelope. In this study, we use building simulations to explore the impact of humidity control on cooling energy use in efficient residential buildings for different humidity limits. We look at limits based on humidity ratio (or dew point temperature), wet-bulb temperature, relative humidity, and constant slope lines based on the popular comfort models of both Fanger and Gagge. We quantify the additional energy use required to control humidity below these limits. We look at the sensitivitymore » of the results to different temperature and humidity set points, occupant internal gains, moisture buffering levels, evaporator airflow rates, and dehumidifier energy factors. High-efficiency home predicted energy savings are more sensitive to the assumed humidity limit and cooling and dehumidification set points than the other parameters investigated in this paper.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo; ORCiD logo;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States); Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Building Technologies Office (EE-5B)
OSTI Identifier:
1546543
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1544530
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-5500-73169
Journal ID: ISSN 0360-1323
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC36-08GO28308; AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Building and Environment
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 162; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0360-1323
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; comfort models; occupant comfort; indoor humidity; cooling energy; low load; moisture buffering; effective moisture penetration depth; humidity; building energy modeling; moisture

Citation Formats

Winkler, Jon, Munk, Jeffrey, and Woods, Jason. Sensitivity of occupant comfort models to humidity and their effect on cooling energy use. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2019.106240.
Winkler, Jon, Munk, Jeffrey, & Woods, Jason. Sensitivity of occupant comfort models to humidity and their effect on cooling energy use. United States. doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2019.106240.
Winkler, Jon, Munk, Jeffrey, and Woods, Jason. Sun . "Sensitivity of occupant comfort models to humidity and their effect on cooling energy use". United States. doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2019.106240.
@article{osti_1546543,
title = {Sensitivity of occupant comfort models to humidity and their effect on cooling energy use},
author = {Winkler, Jon and Munk, Jeffrey and Woods, Jason},
abstractNote = {Residential building energy consumption in the United States has decreased steadily during the last several decades largely because of advances in building codes as well as voluntary efficiency and labeling programs, which have resulted in the reduction in building sensible loads. Building latent loads have not decreased by the same amount, and field and analytical research studies have concluded that high-efficiency, low-load homes often have elevated indoor humidity levels, possibly leading to occupant discomfort. There are discrepancies in the literature on occupant comfort as it relates to indoor humidity and recommended upper humidity limits. The choice of humidity limit could potentially change results and conclusions on the energy impacts of a new air conditioner or dehumidifier technology, changing ventilation rates, or an improved building envelope. In this study, we use building simulations to explore the impact of humidity control on cooling energy use in efficient residential buildings for different humidity limits. We look at limits based on humidity ratio (or dew point temperature), wet-bulb temperature, relative humidity, and constant slope lines based on the popular comfort models of both Fanger and Gagge. We quantify the additional energy use required to control humidity below these limits. We look at the sensitivity of the results to different temperature and humidity set points, occupant internal gains, moisture buffering levels, evaporator airflow rates, and dehumidifier energy factors. High-efficiency home predicted energy savings are more sensitive to the assumed humidity limit and cooling and dehumidification set points than the other parameters investigated in this paper.},
doi = {10.1016/j.buildenv.2019.106240},
journal = {Building and Environment},
number = C,
volume = 162,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {9}
}

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This content will become publicly available on July 4, 2020
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