Measuring and modelling the energy demand reduction potential of using zonal space heating control in a UK home

2016-02-15T16:07:37Z (GMT) by Arash Beizaee
Most existing houses in the UK have a single thermostat, a timer and conventional thermostatic radiator valves to control the low pressure, hot water space heating system. A number of companies are now offering a solution for room-by-room temperature and time control in such older houses. These systems comprise of motorised radiator valves with inbuilt thermostats and time control. There is currently no evidence of any rigorous scientific study to support the energy saving claims of these zonal control systems. This thesis quantifies the potential savings of zonal control for a typical UK home. There were three components to the research. Firstly, full-scale experiments were undertaken in a matched pair of instrumented, three bedroom, un-furbished, 1930s, test houses that included equipment to replicate the impacts of an occupant family. Secondly, a dynamic thermal model of the same houses, with the same occupancy pattern, that was calibrated against the measured results. Thirdly, the experimental and model results were assessed to explore how the energy savings might vary in different UK climates or in houses with different levels of insulation. The results of the experiments indicated that over an 8-week winter period, the house with zonal control used 12% less gas for space heating compared with a conventionally controlled system. This was despite the zonal control system resulting in a 2 percentage point lower boiler efficiency. A calibrated dynamic thermal model was able to predict the energy use, indoor air temperatures and energy savings to a reasonable level of accuracy. Wider scale evaluation showed that the annual gas savings for similar houses in different regions of the UK would be between 10 and 14% but the energy savings in better insulated homes would be lower.