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By Anber Rana and Piyaruwan Perera
PhD Students at UBC Okanagan

A recent report on changing climate states that temperatures in Canada are rising at twice the rate of the rest of the world (CCCR 2019). As a result, cooling loads and the associated energy use and costs will increase dramatically.  The Wilden Living Lab research team measured the effects of changing the indoor temperature set points. Read about the energy and cost savings in both homes, the Home of Today – built to current BC building code – and the Home of Tomorrow.

Thermostats in residential buildings are important due to their ability to provide occupants a means to control their indoor thermal environment.  Research indicates that North American residential buildings are typically designed for a temperature range of 21.5 – 24°C. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system of a typical building offer one of the key contributions for household energy use. The thermostat can be used to change the operating configurations of the HVAC systems to achieve greater energy savings.

Measured Temperatures for Home of Today and Home of Tomorrow over the year

Temperature data for the Wilden Living Lab homes was collected through temperature sensors and real-time data logging systems. Figure 2 shows variation in the indoor temperatures for the Home of Today and the Home of Tomorrow over the past one year period.

Figure 2 Indoor temperatures for the Wilden Living Lab Homes for year 2018

Figure 2 Indoor temperatures for the Wilden Living Lab Homes for year 2018

During most of the year the Home of Tomorrow shows lower indoor temperatures, except in July and August when the Home of Today shows lower temperatures. The average temperature set-points for the two homes main floors and basements are shown in Figure 3.


Energy Simulations using Wilden Living Lab Temperature data

Two energy simulation models have been developed for Home of Today and Home of Tomorrow using HOT2000 (A free energy modelling software developed for low-rise residential buildings which was developed by Natural Resources Canada). The average temperatures shown in Figure 3 were used to calibrate developed energy models.  Moreover, behavioural data collected from a questionnaire, such as hot water usage, thermal heat gain from the occupants and closing of blinds were also incorporated.

In order to assess the impact of temperature set-points on energy consumption and cost, the energy models were simulated with identical temperature set-points. The temperature set-points used and the corresponding energy consumptions are shown in Figure 4.

Based on the analysis, decreasing winter (heating) temperature set-points from 21.0 to 17.50C will result in up to 14% savings in Home of Today and up to 10.2% savings in Home of Tomorrow. However, cooling (air-conditioning) temperature set-point changes from 220C to 280C during the summer season results in a savings of less than 5%. Accordingly, the savings are more significant for both homes for the winter season as compared to the summer season. Table 1 shows a comparison of different temperature set-points on annual energy use and costs.

According to Table 1, if set-point temperatures for the homes are changed the energy consumption and energy cost change significantly in the Home of Tomorrow due to the use of expensive electricity for space heating and cooling. Moreover, the energy consumption and the environmental emissions for the Home of Today are significantly reduced with the changes in temperature set-points due to the use of high-emission natural gas for space heating. The Home of Today realizes a greater long-term environmental impact and energy use reduction based on temperature set-point adjustments compared to the Home of Tomorrow. The economic impacts of different temperature set-points for both homes are shown in Figure 5.

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