Case Study Field Evaluation of a Systems Approach to Retrofitting a Residential HVAC System
This case study focusing on a residence in northern California was undertaken as a demonstration of the potential of a systems approach to HVAC retrofits. The systems approach means that other retrofits that can affect the HVAC system are also considered. For example, added building envelope insulation reduces building loads so that smaller capacity HVAC system can be used. Secondly, we wanted to examine the practical issues and interactions with contractors and code officials required to accomplish the systems approach because it represents a departure from current practice. We identified problems in the processes of communication and installation of the retrofit that led to compromises in the final energy efficiency of the HVAC system. These issues must be overcome in order for HVAC retrofits to deliver the increased performance that they promise. The experience gained in this case study was used to optimize best practices guidelines for contractors (Walker 2003) that include building diagnostics and checklists as tools to assist in ensuring the energy efficiency of "house as a system" HVAC retrofits. The best practices guidelines proved to be an excellent tool for evaluating the eight existing homes in this study, and we received positive feedback from many potential users who reviewed and used them. In addition, we were able to substantially improve the energy efficiency of the retrofitted case study house by adding envelope insulation, a more efficient furnace and air conditioner, an economizer and by reducing duct leakage.
Year of Publication
Building Technology and Urban Systems Division, Residential Building Systems, Whole Building Systems Department