Efficacy of occupancy-based smart ventilation control strategies in energy-efficient homes in the United States
Proper ventilation of residences is essential for occupant health and comfort, and is responsible for a significant portion of energy consumption in homes. This study examines a method for providing adequate ventilation in homes while reducing energy consumption and peak demand: "smart" control of ventilation through sensing of occupancy and modulation of ventilation fans. We first conducted a detailed simulation study of advanced California homes with several occupancy-based ventilation control strategies. We then look at how general these results are nationally through a second simulation campaign in 15 ASHRAE climate zones. All simulations compared equivalent indoor air quality situations and assessed energy savings benefits. A key difference from previous demand-controlled ventilation strategies is that our study includes the effects of building related contaminants that are continuously emitted, irrespective of occupancy status, consistent with the requirements in ASHRAE Standard 62.2–2016. Under this new assumption, it is very difficult to extract substantial energy savings using only occupancy sensing. For the baseline strategy, savings were less than 10% of ventilation energy and sometimes negative in all cases analyzed other than leakier 2-story homes. Addition of a pre-occupancy flush period increases savings somewhat, but savings are still less than 15% other than in 2-story leakier homes.