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A Comparison of Simulation Capabilities for Ducts

Publication Type
ORNL Report
Publication Date

Typically, the cheapest way to install a central air conditioning system in residential buildings is to place the ductwork in the attic. Energy losses due to duct-attic interactions can be great, but current whole-house models are unable to capture the dynamic multi-mode physics of the interactions. The building industry is notoriously fragmented and unable to devote adequate research resources to solve this problem. Builders are going to continue to put ducts in the attic because floor space is too expensive to closet them within living space, and there are both construction and aesthetic issues with other approaches such as dropped ceilings. Thus, there is a substantial need to publicly document duct losses and the cost of energy used by ducts in attics so that practitioners, builders, homeowners and state and federal code officials can make informed decisions leading to changes in new construction and additional retrofit actions. Thus, the goal of this study is to conduct a comparison of AtticSim and EnergyPlus simulation algorithms to identify specific features for potential inclusion in EnergyPlus that would allow higher-fidelity modeling of HVAC operation and duct transport of conditioned air. It is anticipated that the resulting analysis from these simulation tools will inform energy decisions relating to the role of ducts in future building energy codes and standards.