You are on page 1of 24

http://www.sensiblehouse.org/nrg_heatloss.

htm

Energy Modeling

Historically the only purpose for modeling was to size heating and cooling
systems, but now its used to tradeoff insulation amount, window efficiency and
air tightness with HVAC/solar array sizes. Modeling also allows your to
compare to a standard such as LEED, PassiveHouse, or standard
construction via a HERS rating, if you happen to be interested in such
comparisons, as well as determine how much PV you'll need if you want to be
a zero-energy house. Modeling will also tell you how much passive solar gain
you'll get, as well as whether you're getting too much in the summer. You can
also get an estimate of what your yearly energy consumption will be.

Modeling energy use is theoretically simple, but practically complex,
particularly over longer time periods. Occupant behavior such as thermostat
setting, opening windows, and equipment use have a very large effect on
building energy use. Likewise, energy use literally changes with the weather.
On top of all this, add in radiant heat/loss gain (see discussion in the R-
values section), and that fact that real-world assembly R-values vary
somewhat from theoretical ones (see next section).

There are numerous software packages that calculate heat loss (including
some free ones), some of which can do some very sophisticated modeling in
an attempt to deal with the practical complications. Different programs have
different capabilities, so the best one depends on what you want out of it.
Even if you do buy a package, keep in mind that annual energy use is so
dependent on occupant behavior and weather, no model can possibly predict
the end result accurately.1 The more sophisticated packages will take more
effects into account and hence get a better estimate, but you can still get
useful estimates with just a simple model done in a spreadsheet.

If the concern is only ballpark yearly energy use, or only worst case energy
use (for example to size a backup heating system), or typical case energy use,
a simple spreadsheet will give a good result. The rest of the document
describes how to do this, and explains the limitations of this approach.

Heat Loss = Conduction + infiltration

There are two primary methods of heat loss in building, conduction thru the
building envelope (ie the exterior surface: floor, walls, roof, windows, etc) and
via air infiltration (or rather warm air escaping the building being replaced by

cold outside air). Other factors, such as radiant loss/gain really only affect the
temperature difference from inside to out. Those factors can be quite
significant for short periods of time, and may even significantly affect the yearly
amount, but are ignored here.2

Heat loss thru the envelope

The general heat loss formula is: Q=U*A*ΔT, or in plain words, the heat loss
of an area of size A is determined by the U value of the materials and the
difference in temperature between inside and out (that is the difference in
temperature of the two surfaces, not the two air temperatures, which might not
be quite the same. Below is an adjustment for air temperatures.)

To get the heat loss of an entire building, you divide the building into areas that
have the same U value, and then add them all up to get the total heat loss. So
typically you will end up with four different areas: walls, windows & doors, roof
and floor. If one of those areas had parts that have a different U value (for
example a wall bump out that is constructed differently), you will end up
breaking that into its own category also.

Heat loss thru an assembly:
Because walls, roofs etc are assemblies of different materials, calculating heat
loss thru that assembly requires combining the R-values of the various
materials to calculate an effective R-value for the assembly.

First, divide the assembly into sections that are uniform from inside to outside,
for example in a 2x4 wall, there is the part where insulation fills the cavity and
the part where there is a 2x4 and no insulation.

Second, calculate the R-value of each section by adding of the R-values of
each of its layers. For example, a typical 2x4 wall would be: R.5(wood siding)
+R.5( 1/2" wood sheathing)+R11(insulation)+R.5(sheetrock)=R12.5. The R
value of a material is either found in a table for the entire material(eg an R11
fiberglass batt which is 3.5" thick), or by using the R value per inch of material
(eg R3.1/inch) and multiplying by the actual thickness
(R3.1/inch*3.5inches=R11).

Third, calculate the U value of the assembly as the sum of the weighted U
values of each section. To do this, you will first need to calculate what
percentage of the total area each of the different sections occupy.

Uassembly = U1*%area1 + U2*%area2+...

The R value of the assembly is then just the inverse of its U-value. In this example.0307. and then take the inverse.6 (sheetrock@ R1 per inch) + 33.4(cellulose) + 3.. Here is an example: The example wall section at right consists of two different cross sections: (A) where there are no 2x4 studs: it's sheetrock- insulation-plywood-siding. The R value for section B is: . For our wall. section A is 94% (ie 22.94+(1/16)*. which is a R value of about 32. To get an R-value for a wall (or any assembly) you must first add up the U values.7 per inch) + .5.5" of assembly A and 1. use the following: Rwall = 1Pa/Ra+Pb/Rb+Pc/Rc+ .6 (sheetrock@ R1 per inch ) +3.5" out of 24").9)*.5 (siding+air barrier: estimate ) =R34.06 = . For our sample wall. the 2x4s are 24" apart.3 (cellulose@ R3.5 (plywood@ R1 per inch) + . To calculate the R value. The R value for section A is: . and so section B is 6%. then take the inverse: calculating an R value by percentage of area will not give a correct result.5(2x4) + . The basic formula is: Uwall = Ua*Pa + Ub+Pb + Uc*Pc + .5 (plywood) + .. To get the R value of the complete wall.. and (B) the section where there are studs: it's sheetrock-2x4-insulation-2x4-plywood-siding. that means every 24" section of wall consists of 22.9. where Ux is the U value of a section and Px is the section's percentage of the whole.5 (siding) = R16. Uwall = (1/34.5(2x4)+7.5" of assembly B. we add up the U values of each section multiplied by what percentage of the overall assembly they represent.

An accurate value would require breaking the wall up into each different component section. at is requires compressing the insulation. or basement wall . it will settle and leave voids at the top of walls. Typical values are R. headers of various sizes on windows. but still not trivial. fire blocking. and less-than- perfect installation is probably more than norm than a rarity.12=R30.8+(1/16)*.9)*. With loose fill. vents etc. Blown in loose fill is easier. plumbing. Left out of this calculation is the effect of the air layers on the inside and outside of the assembly (for a more detailed explanation see "Air Layers"). the effect isn't terrible: Doubling the framing to 12% results in: (1/34. and because real-world assemblies tend to have more structural material. and R. the R-value increases with increasing density up to a point. with built in assumptions about the conditions the wall experiences. In this case. see R- values for the full discussion) and (2) that the insulation material itself maybe degraded are installed improperly.6 Increasing the framing to 20% results in : (1/34. These are averages. there are top and bottom plates. Note that ceiling/roof values are somewhat lower. While this does reduce the whole wall R-value. Standard framing factors are much higher than the sample wall section shown above--the range from 12% to 20%--that is two to three times more than the sample above. the final R-value depends on the fill being installed to the specified density. and if not installed dense enough.2 Real world issues: There are two complexities here: (1) that conditions the wall is under are different from the assumptions behind this equation (mostly due to the radiant temperature being different than the air temperature. Both can be big factors. while a good ballpark would be to use standard framing factors (which is the percentage of the wall that is solid framing).2=R28.In a actual wall there are significant differences from this simple wall section. but goes down after that. Because they are relatively small compared to super-insulated assemblies. and less-than-perfect installations of insulation. Heat loss thru a slab. It is generally quite difficult to pass that point. more pipes. the air-layer R-value is ignored throughout the sensiblehouse documents.2 for the outside. Batt insulation is notoriously hard to install so it fills the cavity evenly.88+(1/16)*.9)*. electrical outlets. for example there are often double or triple studs in the corners. more wires.7 for the inside layer of a wall.

. there appears to be no simple way to model heat loss thru the ground. If the soil has significant moisture in it. The farther from the surface the smaller the temperature movement. until you hit a point (about 30') where is no longer changes.Calculating the heat loss thru a slab involves two significant difficulties: soil has a high specific heat. This temperature is approximately the same as the average annual outdoor temperature. and second that the soil temperature changes both with the season and with depth from the surface (see diagram at right). clay. and it summer its warmer. Complications also include solar heat gain (which makes earth warmer than air). In spring the surface warms faster then the deeper ground. The diagrams below illustrate the issue. by showing two possible arrangements of heat distribution in the vicinity of a slab. and many fairly complex models have been proposed and incorporated into energy modeling software. and evaporation (which makes it cooler). the R value will be less--often much less. so heat both moves and is stored as it moves. Further complicating the problem is that soils have different R-value depending on their composition (sand. Modeling slab heat loss Unlike heat loss above ground. so as you go down the ground gets colder then warmer again. In winter the surface is cooler than the deep ground. In fall that process is reversed. rock) and vary from around an R of .5/ft to 10/ft.

The right diagram shows a different. the mid point in the soil becomes the mid point in temperature between inside and out. but still possible heat distribution. Note that in these simplified diagrams the deep ground temperature is assumed to be 50°F6 . In fall the process reverses. which will also affect the heat loss path length. This distribution could be because the R value of the soil isn't uniform. so the gradient goes from warm to cold to the mid point. and in other seasons the heat distribution far away from the building will be different. Note that in summer. Both of these diagrams show a winter day. The wedge of cold ground eventually warms both from above and from loss from the building. Since the heat distribution is different.The left diagram represents an idealized steady state heat distribution during winter. assuming a uniform R value over all the soil (note that in reality the temperature gradient is continuously variable--it's just easier to draw as incremental steps). In spring the surface heats before the ground below it. and in hot climates the . leaving as slice of cold ground. the heat flow is also different: longer paths means slower heat loss since the R value of the longer path is greater. The black arrows indicate the direction of heat flow which is the shortest path from warm to cold. then back to warm as you approach the slab. In this case. or because the weather is making a long term change from warm to cold.

and the paths from the outer edge of the slab thru the close areas of soil have the path of least resistance. as shown by the black arrows in the diagrams.process reverses and heat is gained thru the slab instead of lost The mechanism is the same. but will change in a week. the loss becomes more dependent on average temperatures from days. That means that you can either calculate an average loss based on average soil temperature. The loss directly thru the perimeter then is fairly dependent on today's temperature. The total heat loss of the slab is the sum of the heat flow thru each of these paths. Calculation Methods . This is why the focus has been on perimeter insulation: however the interior area is much larger than the perimeter area. and hence heat moves directly thru the edge (straight black arrow). the time lag increase isn't linear. and at about thirty feet its around a year. hence at some point the time lag is so large that there is no yearly movement along that path. so that downward heat flow just increases the size of the heat bubble. or you need to include a factor that represents the ground temperature which is really just a moving average of the outdoor temperature over some time period. Essentially the ground below the slab becomes and extension of the slab. The temperature at depth has an increasing time lag. but as you move away from the immediate edge. weeks or even months ago. and the heat loss is all due to sideways movement. So clearly the straight path thru the slab edge. As you go down in the soil. and longer time lags. A few feet down the time lag is more like a month. the heat bubble would continue to extend downward until it hit the boundary of warmth coming from the earth's core (The earth warms about 5° every 300' down). although with somewhat of a time lag--the deeper the movement the more the time lag. The exception is the slab edge. with the paths from the center of the slab having higher R values (due to moving thru more soil). but rather changes exponentially slower. where it is exposed to the air. What this means is that the heat loss from each part of the slab travels along curved paths that are defined by the shape of the heat bubble on the inside. If there were no sideways movement. and the shape of the cold bubble on the outside (ie because heat goes from warm to cold). and by ten feet down its a few months. About one foot down the temperature changes very little daily. This sideways movement will change by season as the shape and temperature of the cold bubble change.

R. but ignoring any loss thru the middle of the slab. This itself was a simplification of a slightly more complex (and more accurate) model which is: Q=P*F1*(Tin-Tout) + 2*Ain Where Ain is the non-insulated area under the slab.R. although it came from the California energy commission. but they're not. The following table is based on the ASHRAE 90. and then you can calculate the loss thru the slab using outdoor and indoor temperatures. 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 5 . but you have to buy it and spend time learning how to use it--or alternatively hire an energy professional to do it for you. the focus here is on how to do it yourself.R- 7.R. and the F2 model is now incorporated into many energy codes. F values. The formula is: Q= P*F2*(Tin-Tout) Where P is the length of the slab perimeter. The common method is to assume that loss directly thru the perimeter is dominant. and is more likely to get an accurate result.R.R.R. Note that F1 and F2 are per linear length rather than per square foot. and F2 is a factor that depends on slab insulation type and local conditions. which is accounted in the equation for as 2Btu/SF. For the common conditions (ie either uninsulated.R. You'd think then that the values were available everywhere on the web. The obvious problem with the F1 model is that it assumes no interior insulation. and the other is to use energy modeling software.R. Given that construction is often on a tight budget. Energy modeling software can do very sophisticated analysis.R.R. Unheated Slab R- R. the F2version was judged close enough until fairly recently.1(2010).or at most R10 perimeter insulation). and F1 is calculated like F2. Instead the focus has been on extending the F2 model to include the loss thru the whole slab.There are two common methods: a simple one applicable only to structures whose ratio of floor area to perimeter length is less than 12 (ie small buildings) that is simple to calculate.

36" . . . . . horizont . Heated Slab R.R.3 horizo 1 1 0 0 . horizont 67 65 64 63 al . .5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 1. . .7 . . . 24" .R.R.7 . .3 1.R. . . . . 48" . . .R. . . horizont 72 71 71 71 al 24" . .51 50 50 vertical 58 56 54 52 5 2 .R. 56 56 56 vertical 61 60 58 57 7 5 4 . .R. 43 42 41 vertical 54 51 48 45 4 4 9 . . . . . . .3 1.R.3 None 5 12" 1. . .R- 0 5 7.7 69 al 36" . . . .R.R. 17 26 23 21 19 18 16 16 Slab 46 41 36 30 6 1 3 3 8 6 8 1 F values.R. Full . . None 73 12" . horizont 68 67 66 66 al 48" . 12" . . . . . .3 1. . 47 46 46 vertical 56 53 51 48 2 4 0 . .

36" . For example going from R5 to R10 installed 24" wide makes no difference in an unheated slab--its better to install R5 48" wide.90.77. .79 76 74 74 vertical 2 7 0 . You still have to put in the time learning how to use it.85.0 1.2 1. .2 1. 24" .1 horizo 0 7 3 1 ntal .1 horizo 4 1 0 8 ntal 48" 1.84.95. . Its also shows that the conventional belief that only perimeter insulation matters is clearly not true: if you want large reductions in slab heat loss you will need full slab insulation. .55.1 1.ntal 24" 1.99. and little point going past R10. . . .44 37 32 29 27 25 23 22 21 Slab 3 6 6 3 5 9 7 7 These tables at least cover most of the possible insulation configurations.2 1.89.2 1. 48" .74.2 1.86 84 83 82 vertical 3 2 7 . Therm (free download from LBL) apparently can calculate a value for you.91. . . so this might not be an appealing option. . if you're only going to put it in 48" wide.2 horizo 8 7 6 5 ntal 36" 1. . buys you little. . Full . .98 96 96 vertical 6 2 8 4 1 . there is no point of going past R15. 12" 1. but if you're configuration isn't in the table.2 1.95.64.72 68 67 65 vertical 8 1 9 . . Likewise.1 1.0 96 1 . .2 1. There are a few obvious things in these tables: first that its easy to hit the point where increasing the thickness of perimeter insulation without also installing it in a wider strip.

using F factors will not result in an accurate heat loss for any given moment--it can only calculate seasonal losses. Although the formula uses outdoor air temperature to calculate heat loss. then it was sort of true). its not clear what is going on here. so the ΔT increase compared to winter air temperatures is maybe 50%. for no insulation. To calculate the loss for a given outdoor temperature. unheated slab F is . or why you can't just have one table and use a higher indoor temperature when calculating loss of a heated slab. For example. but also on temperature because the F values from the two charts don't vary linearly. and lousy windows. Given that steady state heat loss is usually considered to be linear. By comparison the difference in temperature between a heated and unheated slab is maybe 20F or less. and since this formula has no such term. Comparing the values for heating and unheated slabs shows that these values are not just dependent on the inherent R value of the situation. and often also a division of the slab into perimeter and main slab. as something like: ( Q = Qm + Qa*sin 360* day+Dc+Dg365 ) . There have been various variations on this proposed with the main difference being that there is a time varying component. First. is to model the heat loss as a steady state and variable component. but for R30 full slab insulation F goes from .73 while heated is 1.35. and as a result the common practice is to only install perimeter insulation. an increase of 85%.Unfortunately older versions of this chart were built under the assumption that only perimeter loss mattered (well if you assume R11 walls. there is no way this formula will produce such a result.213 to .296. you need to incorporate a term for the seasonal variation in soil temperatures (keeping in mind that a 20°F degree day in late fall will produce much less heat loss and one in early spring). an increase of 39%.

and this is adopted from that (ref 3). above. We also don't know the relative U values for each area. so you have to estimate which area is the perimeter and which is center slab. ie: Q = Ueff*A*(Tin-Tg) . In this method the slab is characterized has having just one U value. Unlike heat loss by other mechanisms where are documented by many sources. as we do for an above ground wall. The difficulty with the above formula is that we don't know how wide the perimeter of the slab is (ie the part dominated by heat loss via the short path thru the edge) versus the rest of the slab whose heat loss is dominated by deeper ground temperature. 2) Since the U*A value is fixed for any given building. (Ref: 1. Tgm is mean ground temperature. "day" is the day of the year (ie 1 to 365). which means Tgs is negative in summer). Dc is the offset from Jan 1st of the day nearest the fall equinox where the average air temperature is the same as the average deep ground temperature. and Dg is the number of day of time lag for the soil to air temperature. In the seasonal part. I was only able to find one source that solved this problem using only simple math. what it really means is: Q = U1*A1 *(Tin-Tgm) + U2*A2*(Tgm-Tgs) where Tin is indoor temp. and calculated with the same varying factor as Qa. and Tgs is the seasonal variation in temperature from the mean (note: this is shallow surface temperature. and loss thru the middle of the slab is hardly effected by seasonal temperature variations. The catch is that loss thru the perimeter is hardly affected by the deep ground. and what their respective U values are.In this model Qm is the steady state loss and Qa is the seasonal loss/gain.

Ohio where the analysis was done.7 Where Toa is the yearly average ground temperature and Toa3 is the average outdoor temperature over the last three months.877Rf+16 It was also determined that you could approximate ground temperature (ie the average from the surface to depth) as follows: Tg = (1.114Rf+Rp+4 + . Also note that there will be heat loss from the slab edge into air where the slab sits above grade. or more importantly for insulation values and configurations different from their 48 test cases is anyone's guess.7Toa+Toa3)/2. Note that the diagram for the model shows external perimeter insulation instead of interior. software was used to calculate 48 different configurations and then values were picked so that the simplified version matches the output of the software. and so substituting we get: Ueff = . This is an additional heat loss for the slab that's not included here. and Ueff is calculated as follows (see diagram at right): Ueff = Af1Rf+Rp+Rg1 + Af2Rf+Rg2 To calculate the perimeter area (Af1). which means there is a potential thermal bridge thru the footing. These values are: Af1=11.4% Af2=87. inside area (Af2) and their associated ground resistance Rg1 and Rg2. particularly for soil conditions and climates very different from Dayton.7% Rg1=4 Rg2=16.Where Tg is a time varying ground temperature that represents the average temperature of the ground from the surface to deep ground. Whether the results you get are accurate to any reasonable degree. then this area can be modeled just like a wall section: . but is much easier to model as long as we assume the slab inside stays at constant temperature.

if the heat loss is large enough. P2. Then model the ground as a series of slices whose temperature varies with time. If we assume approximately curved paths for the dominant heat loss. then each one will have a fairly uniform U value along its dominant heat loss path. the slices have been divided here into Tg0: dependent on last few days-week of outdoor temperature.Q = Ap/Rp*(Tslab-Tout) Calculate the surface area of the slab exposed to air Ap (which is just the perimeter length times the average exposed height of the slab (typically 4-6"). If the strips we pick are thin enough. the key is to find the minimum number of strips that gives a good enough result (here speculated to be 4). You could use indoor air temperature as a surrogate for slab temperature. P2=2'. To keep the calculation simple. P3 and M). We pick the size of the slices of earth by their approximate time lag in temperature change from outdoor temperature. Of course. use the R value of the vertical perimeter insulation and the difference in temperature between the slab and outside. the slab won't stay at a constant temperature. A quick guess would set the width of P1=2'. P3=4'. The following is speculation: Another possibility is to model the slab as a series of concentric strips from the perimeter in (diagram at right labeled P1. although unless the slab is very well insulated it will be a bit colder than room temperature. Tg3: dependent on last 3 months temperature. but will end up colder than inside air. The trick then it to guess what the width for P1. P2 and P3 should be. then we can pair each strip of slab with a slice of ground that is on its mostly likely heat transfer path. For simplicity. Tg1: dependent on last months temperature. and Tg the mean deep ground temperature. .

or more likely 1/4 of an ellipse but we can probably model it as a straight line and that would be accurate enough. you calculate the area for each strip of slab. and that the heat distribution under the slab has formed a bubble. which can vary from R. and that lets you build a simple table of values for Tg0. A safe choice would appear to about 3 in dry climates.4/ft to R10/ft depending on soil density and moisture content.5 in wet/humid climates maybe only 1 in winter wet climates like the pacific northwest. and P3 has to be wider because Tg3 is deeper). Use whatever comes out as the most heat loss for sizing HVAC equipment. and to calculate heating season loss. The likely bad assumption here is that the temperature at depth directly below the exterior of the building is only dependent on historical outdoor air temperatures. just sum over the heating season months. For each strip calculate an average path length to the surface (ie along the curved path length) to the corresponding soil slice. their dominant heat loss won't line up with the corresponding slice of ground. then the path length is a1/4 circle. and hence the model's assumptions would be incorrect. The limitation here is that if we pick the wrong widths for the strips of slab. which is then subtracted from the total to give you the remaining area. Next you have to make an assumption about the R value of soil. 1. Calculate the R value for the path length for each strip by its average length times some R value for soil. To calculate heat loss then.but this is just a guess (I picked these because P1 & P2 correspond to typical perimeter insulation widths. Tg1 and Tg3 for each month. The formula would be: Qm = P*AvRp * (Tin-Tout) + (P-8)*2(Rs1+Rg0) * (Tin-Tg0) + (P-24)*2(Rs2+Rg1) * (Tin-Tg1) + (P-40)*2(Rs3+Rg2) * (Tin-Tg3) . Then build a series of time dependent temperatures for each month of the year. The simplest is to assume that the slices straight down thru the ground are only affected by outdoor temperature.

This model clearly has a lot of assumptions.414. While this is a wild guess.5 and 10. Rs2. Rs3. and Rs4 are the horizontal sub-slab insulation amounts for each of the corresponding slab strips. ie the distance the heat travels. a 1/4 arc. Tg0. use the average of outdoor temperature and the average monthly temperature for the month of interest: Tg0=(Tout-Tm)/2. Av is the vertical height of the slab edge exposed to air. Tinis the inside temperature (and assumed slab temperature). For the top slice. So with this assumption. and finally for the deeper ground. The path length L. Rs1. we know that as we go deeper. can be estimated by assuming the path is the hypotenuse of a isosceles right triangle (distance from the vertical insulation to the center of the strip*1. As with the slab. hence the assumptions follow the pattern even if they're off. Rg0=Kg*1. The value for Kg will be between . Tg1 and Tg3 are the ground temperatures for the slices of ground. where each of these is Kg*L.5 would be for very wet soil and rock. Tg1 etc are the same depth as the slab strips are wide. and 10 would be loose dry soil. the idea is to make slices of approximately the same properties. While admittedly this is a pretty crude estimate. The idea here is to correlate these temperatures with the current outdoor temperature and recent past average outdoor temperatures. where . and the time lag is bigger.+ M(Rs4+Rg3) * (Tin-Tg) Where P is the perimeter length. and L is the path length. This would be true if the strips of soil corresponding to Tg0. Tout is the outdoor air temperature. it assumes that the temperature of the ground below the exterior surface is only dependent on outside temperature. use the average temperature over the last six months. the temperature swing is smaller.414). and for the next slice use the average temperature over the last three months. Rg0 thru Rg3 are the R values for the soil for each of the dominant heat loss path. where Kg is the R value per foot of soil. and does not model any . use the monthly average temperature. or other triangles won't result in dramatically different distances--the difference between them is only maybe 20% assuming the ball park path length isn't dramatically wrong. For the next slice. Rp is the vertical slab insulation.414 Rg3=Kg*6*1. the key here is that the distances are short enough that whether we treat the path length as a 1/4 circle. Values of 1-2 seem pretty typical. in addition to the ones about path length and the size of the slices of ground matching up with the size of the strips of slab.414 Rg1=Kg*3*1. Tg. and the area M is the remaining part of the slab that is not one of the perimeter strips.

and assumes the slab temperature is uniform and the same as indoor air temperature. and hence greater heat loss. My general conclusion is that the slice model is much more sensitive to perimeter insulation amounts. which is apparently the model used by PHPP. and that for higher insulation amounts the slice model gives lower heat losses for outdoor temperatures below ground temperature. I used average winter outdoor temperature. I then compared heat losses for: no insulation. 24" R10. To compare. the slice model predicts much higher losses for no insulation. and unfortunately the formula is highly obtuse. but the questions is whether the net result is close enough. all these assumptions are likely wrong. Alas. I assumed the ground is R2/ft.horizontal heat movement within the slab itself (eg from P2 to P1). its $200 just to get the written standard (although I did find a summary. but similar to lower losses for other configurations. For the F factor. As can be seen from the table below. I calculated a monthly heat loss using average outdoor temperature for each month of the heating season. Because this model will calculate different slab heat loss amounts for different times of year given the identical outdoor air temperature. 48" R10. but with a larger vertical surface. full slab R10 and full slab R40. it cannot be directly compared to the F-factor which depends only on outdoor temperature. . What would be more interesting is to compare these results to ISO13370. and modeled a 25x40 (1000sf) slab (perimeter length=130ft) using Seattle weather data (Oct-Apr heating season). Clearly.) Configuration F-factor loss Slice model loss No Insulation 2250 5022 24" R5 2158 2024 24" R10 2158 1545 48" R10 1973 1224 full R10 1110 1191 full R40 573 511 Basements: These are similar to slabs. then took the average of that (the net result being an average heat loss per hour for the entire slab).

Unheated crawl spaces are usually ventilated.018*ΔT or Q=CFMn*1. the heat loss is calculated via one of the following simple formulas: Q=V*ACHn*. At issue is how to use these measured CFM50/ACH50 numbers to calculate the hourly heat loss for some typical or maximum actual conditions the building will experience. Once you've determined an infiltration rate. you might want to use ACH50/10 or even ACH50/5. so unless the typical weather conditions are that it's windier when the temperatures are moderate than cold. which are both just different fudge factors than those used to calculate ACHnat . If you're calculating the worst case heat loss. its really impractical to do this hence we use the estimates. Heat Loss via Infiltration In addition to heat loss thru the envelope via conduction. The issue here is that we know that the infiltration rate is higher when its cold and windy. for example for equipment sizing. although the quantity of air movement is usually fairly minimal (although not so minimal that in a climate with summer humidity condensation will form on the cool floor and cause mold growth).08*ΔT . but because wind speed is typically such an important component of ACH.it really depends on your climate and whether you think ACHnat is a good estimate of infiltration at cold temperatures or not3. rather than using ACHnat in the heat loss formula. all buildings leak air and this mechanism is described in detail in the infiltration section. Ideally we'd like a table or formula that would allow us to know the value of ACH at various temperatures so that we could get a more accurate total heat loss for any outdoor temperature. ACHnat will result in under estimating the heat loss due to infiltration. Rather than modeling with outdoor temperature. It is however not ventilated so much that it will reach outdoor temperature and hence the floor heat loss will be less because the temperature difference will be less.Crawl spaces: There are two kinds of crawl spaces: heated and unheated where the heated kind are essentially basements that aren't very usable. adjust it closer to mean ground temperature.

or equivalent). If you have mechanical ventilation.2ACH natural ventilation rate (which in turn is about 27CFM). west and north windows are 2x3.3). or more appropriately the amount of heat required to heat up the air that leaks in as a result of air leaking out. assume another 25CFM mechanical ventilation. but given that you don't really want air leaking thru an insulated cavity. R5 doors. the calculation is essential the same. to show a complete heat loss calculation. or 15 degrees in this case.Where Q is the hourly infiltration heat loss. since CFM is a per minute rate and we're looking for a per hour rate. but it isn't a real house). rather than using F values for floor loss. south. Assume the floor and the ceiling are built with 12" TGIs (or equivalent). especially not at a slow rate where condensation can happen.08 is just the heat capacity of air. V is the volume of the house. . Heat Loss Calculation Example The following is an example house. it is assumed an un-vented crawlspace has an average temperature4 of around 55°F. . is built with the double stud wall shown in the example above.The following are the east. Note that the value 1. The doors are standard 3-0x6- 8. west and north elevations for this hypothetical house (which is simplified to make the calculations easy: its intended to be realistic enough. east.018 times 60. Assume that the house measured 2ACH50. Because this is quite small. *ΔT is the difference in temperature and ACHnand CFMn are the normalized blower door test values for whatever conditions you want to assume. This house is 25'x40' (1000SF) on the interior with an 8' ceiling. its best not to assume this happens. and that the insulation is blown in cellulose (R3. To simplify things. but in this case the ventilation rate is whatever the fan is rated for. and has a unheated crawlspace. . then the effective temperature difference is only 30% of ΔT.018 is the heat capacity of air whose units are BTU/ft3-°F. which corresponds to a . and south are 7x5. double glaze low-E windows (U . If the ventilation is a HRV or ERV you need to adjust the temperature difference by the efficiency of heat recovery. There is some evidence that as air leaks out thru an insulated cavity. the cavity acts a bit like an HRV. Intuitively this number represents the amount of heat containing the air that leaks out.7/inch . so for example if ΔT is 50 degrees and the efficiency is 70%. the typical assumption being ACHnat. ie the adjusted valve based on the statistical model representing the "natural" ventilation rate.

5 5009 8139 All of the Btu values are per hour.8 30 773 50 1289 Floor 1000 . To get a daily amount. whose maximum output is more in .021 21 15 315 15 315 Ceiling 1000 . you'll get bogus results and also the code will only run in a fairly recent browser. use the average daily temperature to get an hourly loss. then multiply by 24. while the heat loss at the coldest day will help size the backup heating equipment. with an average heating season temperature of around 40°F. BTU/hr BTU/h BTU/h Assembly Area U ΔTtyp ΔTcold -F r r Windows 153 . Local codes specify this typical cold temperature. usually called the design temperature.2 28. The spreadsheet is updated every time you change on of the values.2 8 30 240 50 400 Walls 859 .3 45. The heat loss at typical temperature will help calculate an approximation of what percentage of the necessary heat can be supplied with passive solar. and typical coldest night is around 20°F.7 3335 5349 n Total VolumeACHnat Infiltration 8000 . we assume the house is in a moderate climate. You can change the values in the calculation to whatever you'd like if the assumptions made here are different than what you'd like to look at.021 21 30 630 50 1050 Conductio 121. Because this house is super-insulated. and quite small.9 30 1377 50 2295 Doors 40 . these values for heat loss are very low compared to typical heating systems. so if you enter bogus data. which for Seattle is 23°F. but beware there is no consistency checking.For this example.03 25.8 30 864 50 1440 Ventilation 25 27 30 810 50 1350 (CFM) Totals 177.

For a more fair comparison. Still. multiply by 24 to convert hourly loss to daily. To estimate the yearly heating and cooling energy. see the passive solar version of the calculator. and roof heat loss will be higher when the night sky is clear and dry. see the units section). then multiply by the number of degree day for your location (for a discussion on degree days and its limitations. There are really only two significant factors: the sunny surfaces of the building will likely have a lower heat loss due to radiant gain.000 Btu/hr range. it obvious that putting in better windows (currently 28% of the total loss). Finally nightime setback (or for that matter any setback) in the thermostat setting may change your heat loss.the 40. Yearly heat loss/Accuracy of the model The heat loss model described here is for steady state heat loss under ideal conditions.000 to 80. and on a cloudy day it will also be relatively close (although there will still be some radiant effect). How much the actual loss will vary from the modeled loss is unclear. a small error in the daily amount will result in a significant error in the yearly amount. Under a cloudy sky at night. say 0°F. but even then this house still uses only 11. In the real world. its . The caveat is that if our model has significant inaccuracies. the model should be pretty accurate. and will still provide a decent estimate of annual energy use (although you will have to factor in internal gain and solar gain. So. the yearly heat loss calculation can be used to compare one building to another fairly accurately. then we won't get the savings we'd expect. To see how solar affects your building. While the heat transfer on a given day isn't likely to be much different from what is calculated. you calculate the building's heat loss per degree (ie just Q=A*U). In addition any given years weather will vary from the average. reducing infiltration (18% of total) and using an HRV (ventilation currently 17%) would be the places to look. we should size the heat for the most extreme cold day. these conditions are at least as uncommon as they are common (detailed discussion in the section on r-values). If we want to reduce the heat loss from this building. for example if the example house from above is located in a 4000HDD climate. so the annual heat loss calculation should be viewed as a ballpark estimate. but at all other times real loss will vary from the model. see the passive solar section).000 Btu/hr.

leaving a bias. and the windows are likely to be open to exhaust all the extra gain. but even if that not the case. yet clearly many of them are close enough to 70 (and with enough sunshine) that no external energy is used--yet you can't weight the solar gain against the heat loss because its likely to be greater than the heat loss. simply because winters often seem windier.7millon BTU. so taking an average will underestimate heat loss when its cold. there is some tendency to keep a house warmer than it would have previously been. 2: No source I could find dealt with these factors at all. or about 16. ducts and other voids reduce R-value to less than the nominal value. . because the summer roof is often hotter than air temp. The other catch is that if that buildings are usually kept at 68 to 70F. The more accurately all these things are accounted for. when upgrading to super-insulation.7million BTU. so the net savings is sometimes smaller than expected. the more accurate the result will be. But because the formula multiplies by temperature difference. so the actual heat loss is likely more than 16.seasonal loss will 174. and over estimate when its not. and most buildings have quite a few more than four wall surfaces. pipes. and the winter roof is often colder.5 Note also that real world buildings are much more complex than the simple model presented in the above example: the R value of a wall varies by how much lumber is actually in it. stack effect is clearly greater when its cold. 3: My take is that it doesn't in many climates. The cooling energy is calculated the same only using the CDD number instead. HHD numbers for indoor temperatures other than 65F are available. At least that's the thought. but my experiments indicates they give too large a result--at least for Seattle--and I'm assuming its because almost every day in Seattle has an average temperature below 70F. The typical response is to just put more insulation in the attic for instance. not 65F. nor could I find any data to indicate how big they are. some wall sections often end up getting built differently than others. the cold underestimate will be greater than the warm overestimate.1*24*4000. Notes 1: In particular.

5Btu. but because we are only interested in a ballpark result. When I tried HDD (70) I got a loss of more like 60mBTU. William P. a gas dryer and gas hot water.8Btu & 71. I get a loss of 45mBTU/yr. you're need an F of . and any other HDD values are too large because the model assumptions are wrong when the temperature is over 60F outside--the heat is usually off. In particular HDD (65F) underestimated because the building is typically warmer. that's significantly more heat loss: in order to get the same heat loss (based on F factors). Using HDD (65F).. Since the perimeter of the house is 130ft. 60-65 would be more typical. if instead we assumed the house was slab on grade with full R10 insulation. but I also calculate that I have 10mBTU of internal gain (electrical load) and anywhere from 7-12mBTU of solar gain. which is the actual. and are for example only. Compared to the crawl space R48 version. 5: I've spent a bunch of time trying to make my model of the Seattle house match the energy use I actually see--unfortunately we have a gas stove.162. 6: these numbers are typical of much of the central US. or HDD just doesn't give a good result. 1991 .but then the house is typically at 68F Either there is a sizeable error in my model. Although that would clearly indicate that the F factors in the table aren't accurate for all situations.com/articles/degree-days for a detailed discussion. we would find the F factor from the table of ..55 if it is heated. this gives a loss/°F of between 46. References 1: Algorithms for Slab on Grade Heat Transfer Calculations. In the southern US. As an example of using F-factors. I'm convinced HDD doesn't give that good a result. and an excess night heat loss just results in indoor temperatures going below 68F. While my model does likely have errors. JoAnn Amber. then climbing back to it or above during the day. in the north 45 would be typical.4: a vented crawlspace will presumably have a lower temperature during the heating season. which is too high. which according to the table is R55. Bahnfleth. 36 is the slab if unheated and . There are more complex methods of calculating this downward loss. this simplification is probably reasonable. it still implies that R10 sub slab insulation is not that much. See this article http://www. so there is extra work in separating those out from heating energy.energylens.

2: Simplified Method for Underground Heat Transfer Calculation. John Kissock. Moncef Krarti. University of Dayton Ohio . Floors and Basements. Sangho Choi. University of Colorado 3: Energy Efficient Buildings.