Recommended Ventilation Strategies for Energy-Efficient Production Homes

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This report evaluates residential ventilation systems for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) ENERGY STAR® Homes program and recommends mechanical ventilation strategies for new, low-infiltration, energy-efficient, single-family, ENERGY STAR production (site-built tract) homes in four climates: cold, mixed (cold and hot), hot humid, and hot arid. Our group in the Energy Analysis Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab compared residential ventilation strategies in four climates according to three criteria: total annualized costs (the sum of annualized capital cost and annual operating cost), predominant indoor pressure induced by the ventilation system, and distribution of ventilation air within the home. The mechanical ventilation systems modeled deliver 0.35 air changes per hour continuously, regardless of actual infiltration or occupant window-opening behavior. Based on the assumptions and analysis described in this report, we recommend independently ducted multi-port supply ventilation in all climates except cold because this strategy provides the safety and health benefits of positive indoor pressure as well as the ability to dehumidify and filter ventilation air. In cold climates, we recommend that multi-port supply ventilation be balanced by a single-port exhaust ventilation fan, and that builders offer balanced heatrecovery ventilation to buyers as an optional upgrade. For builders who continue to install forced-air integrated supply ventilation, we recommend ensuring ducts are airtight or in conditioned space, installing a control that automatically operates the forced-air fan 15-20 minutes during each hour that the fan does not operate for heating or cooling, and offering ICM forced-air fans to home buyers as an upgrade.

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