Selecting HVAC systems to achieve comfortable and cost-effective residential net-zero energy buildings
Abstract HVAC is responsible for the largest share of energy use in residential buildings and plays an important role in broader implementation of net-zero energy building (NZEB). This study investigated the energy, comfort and economic performance of commercially-available HVAC technologies for a residential NZEB. An experimentally-validated model was used to evaluate ventilation, dehumidification, and heat pump options for the NZEB in the mixed-humid climate zone. Ventilation options were compared to mechanical ventilation without recovery; a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) and energy recovery ventilator (ERV) respectively reduced the HVAC energy by 13.5% and 17.4% and reduced the building energy by 7.5% and 9.7%. There was no significant difference in thermal comfort between the ventilation options. Dehumidification options were compared to an air-source heat pump (ASHP) with a separate dehumidifier; the ASHP with dedicated dehumidification reduced the HVAC energy by 7.3% and the building energy by 3.9%. The ASHP-only option (without dedicated dehumidification) reduced the initial investment but provided the worst comfort due to high humidity levels. Finally, ground-source heat pump (GSHP) alternatives were compared to the ASHP; the GSHP with two and three boreholes reduced the HVAC energy by 26.0% and 29.2% and the building energy by 13.1% and 14.7%. The economics of each HVAC configuration was analyzed using installation cost data and two electricity price structures. The GSHPs with the ERV and dedicated dehumidification provided the highest energy savings and good comfort, but were the most expensive. The ASHP with dedicated dehumidification and the ERV (or HRV) provided reasonable payback periods. Highlights Use a validated model to compare various HVAC options for a net zero energy residence. Compare energy/comfort/economy of ventilation/dehumidification/heat pump options. Heat and energy recovery ventilator reduced the HVAC energy by 13.5% and 17.4% Ground source heat pump with 2 and 3 boreholes reduced HVAC energy by 26.0% and 29.2% Economics analysis using installation cost data and two electricity price structures.
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