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  1. Sometimes questions are raised as to whether it's worth increasing insulation levels and often there seems to be confusion as to what the "ideal" level of insulation is, or even what a "good" or "reasonable" level of insulation might be. I'm not sure whether or not the non-linear impact of improving insulation, in terms of the effect on the heating requirement, and hence running cost during cold weather, is widely understood. I've heard comments like "it's not worth improving the insulation from 0.16 W/m2.K to 0.12 W/m2.K because it would be 30% more expensive and only reduce the heat loss by 25%". Most of the time this is incorrect, because homes have heat sources all year around, from the occupants, incidental heating from appliances, solar gain and even pets (a medium sized dog is probably a four-legged 40 - 50W heater). So, I thought a really simple example might help some gain a better understanding of this non-linearity, and illustrate better why some are so evangelical about trying to improve insulation levels (and reduce ventilation heat loss, too, but I'll get to that another time). Let's build a pretend house, that for simplicity has no doors or windows and is a rectangular single storey box with a flat roof. For simplicity we'll assume it's on raised piles, with an air space underneath, just so we can use the same insulation level on all six sides and to make the sums simple. All I'm doing here is making a comparison, so this is a valid way of illustrating this effect. In our rectangular box house we have an average of 100W of incidental heating, coming from things like internet kit, a PC, a cordless phone base station, a TV, a phone charger, a few lights and a handful of intermittently used kitchen appliances. This is a pretty low figure - I struggle to keep our house background load below about 200W, without any lights on. The box houses two adults, giving out around 80 - 100W each and a dog, so lets say there is 220 W of heating coming from the occupants. The box also has a heating system that can deliver whatever power is needed to maintain a temperature of 20 deg C inside, and its night time, so there's no solar heating of the walls. Outside it's 5 deg C, a chilly winters night. This rectangular box is 10m long x 10m wide x 2.5m high inside, so has a total wall, floor and roof area of 300m2 and an internal floor area of 100m2, so fairly average in size (a bit bigger than our current 3 bed bungalow). So, we have a temperature difference between the inside and outside of 15 deg C (20 deg C - 5 deg C), an internal surface area of 300m2 and a constant incidental heating level of 320 W (220 W from two adults and dog, 100 W from electrical appliances and lights). First, lets see how much heat we need to put into this box from the heating system, if we have U values for the walls, floor and roof of 0.2 W/m2.K (K is degrees Kelvin, the same units as degrees Centigrade when only temperature difference is being compared): The total heat loss power, in Watts, can be calculated from the U value, the area and the temperature difference, so for this first example we get 300m2 area x 15 deg C temperature difference x 0.2 W/m2.K U value = 900 W. There is 320 W of heat coming from the occupants etc, so the heating system would need to deliver 900 - 320 = 580 W in order to keep the house at 20 deg C under these conditions. If this were by direct electric heating, then the heating cost would be about £2.09 per 24 hours. Next, let's see how much heat we need to put into this box from the heating system, if we have U values for the walls, floor and roof of 0.1 W/m2.K , in other words, we've made the insulation twice as "good", so might think we've halved the heating cost: The total heat loss power is now 300m2 x 15 deg C temperature difference x 0.1 W/m2.K U value = 450 W. This is what we'd expect, double the insulation effectiveness and halve the heat loss. However, when we now take away the incidental heat gain from the occupants, etc, of 320 W, the heating system needs to deliver 450 - 320 = 130 W in order to keep the house at 20 deg C under these conditions. If this were by direct electric heating, then the cost would be about £0.47 per 24 hours. So, by doubling the insulation level we've decreased the heating cost by about 78%, not the 50% that might have been expected. This is a very simplistic example, but it does illustrate why doubling up in insulation can give a far greater benefit than might be expected. It also shows why, when you improve the level of insulation you can reduce the heating requirement down to such a low level that for a lot of the time you don't need any heating. In that last example, turning on a few extra lights could heat this imaginary box home to a comfortable temperature on a cold night, whereas with only half the insulation it needs something that delivers 446% more heat.
  2. Ages ago I wrote a spreadsheet for doing what-if comparisons to see whether it was better to invest in more insulation in the walls, roof, floor, fit better windows and doors, or fit a better MVHR system. Others have found it useful and I've been reminded that I've not re-posted it over here, so here's the latest version. It should be self-explanatory, you fill in the cells with your wall, roof/ceiling and floor areas, add the areas of each door and window, put in the U values for each and, if you can, get hold of the met data from the met office for your area (the data in there is for West Wiltshire, right on the border with Dorset). This isn't a thorough modelling tool, it just looks at heat loss fairly accurately but doesn't take into account heat gains, although there is a crude way of doing that by drawing a line across the seasonal plot at the point where you don't use heating and you can very roughly assume that anything above that line will be heating. Please feel free to ask any questions, but bear in mind I wrote it back when I was designing our house and haven't used it for a couple of years. so I may be a bit rusty. Note that the file is an Excel spreadsheet, but to get the forum to accept it a an attachment I had to rename it with a .txt suffix. Download it, then edit the name so that the ".txt" is replaced with ".xls" and it should work. I have a Libreoffice version as well, if anyone would prefer that, although Libreoffice will open and run the Excel file OK. Heat loss calculator - Master.txt
  3. Hello Members, this is my first post and I'd like to say that I really appreciate Jeremy's Heat Loss Calculator, which took one day to complete (yesterday). The compact one-page format with 'what-if' ability is very, very useful. Thank you Jeremy. These are my current considerations and I'd appreciate any comments and/or advice from members Regards, Hugh
  4. My heads away with so much build stuff rushing about in the mush of my brain. Just wanted to sense check my thoughts. I am using @JSHarris heat loss spreadsheet which is a great job. When people quote their calculated heat loss is it this field that they refer to (Total heat loss)?
  5. Having downloaded Jeremy's Heat Loss Spreadsheet and populated it using figures supplied by the Architect, it tells me I have a Total Heat Loss of 5766 watts. (The higher than expected result apears to be driven by the number of windows we have). The question is - What Next? I assume I'll need to have some heat input to balance the Total Heat Loss of 5766 watts? I had in mind to install underfloor heating in the groundfloor slab and heat spreader plates and pipework in the kitchen / family room. (the house is basically an upside-down house, with two bedrooms and a lounge downstair and a Kitchen/family room and dining room above.
  6. I'm sticking this here as I've been asked the question via PM, and rather than just give an answer to one member, I thought it might be more useful to stick the answer somewhere were others can also read it. Back when I was first looking at doing some rough "what if" type comparisons, between different build systems, windows, insulation and airtightness levels etc, I wanted a fairly quick way to be able to change one element, say the wall U value, or the efficiency of the MVHR system, and see what impact it had on the overall heat loss of the house. This model was never intended as a substitute for something like PHPP, which is very comprehensive, it was just intended to give a rough idea so that I could see the scale of some of the changes, and work out where best to spend our limited budget. Having written the spreadsheet for our build, others expressed interest in using it, so I tidied it up and let others have a copy. Because lots of people seemed to want to use it, and also because it generally seemed to give results that were within 10% or so of more complex models, like PHPP, I put a copy of the spreadsheet up on our website, as a free download: http://www.mayfly.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Fabric-and-ventilation-heat-loss-calculator-Master.xls This post is a set of very brief instructions on using this spreadsheet. First some health warnings. It was never intended to give an absolutely accurate prediction of heat loss, and as such it takes no account of solar gain, wind or incidental heat gain from occupants and appliances. As a consequence it is generally a bit pessimistic, in that it will usually tend to slightly overestimate the heating requirement. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can be useful to have a bit of heating capacity in reserve for exceptionally cold weather. To use the spreadsheet, you first need to gather all the data needed to complete the white cells. Most of this should be self-explanatory from the notes in each section. The U values, for example, should be the true U value of the component, including any additional thermal paths, so the window U value needs to be the Uw value, not the Ug value, and the floor U value needs to be adjusted for any thermal bridging around the periphery. All the areas are the internal wall, floor and ceiling/roof areas, not the external ones. The model does not account for geometric thermal bridging at corners, but in a well-insulated house this effect should be very small, anyway. Some of the most difficult to obtain data can be the mean daily air temperature and the mean minimum daily temperature, for each month. This data is available for your location on the Met Office website, but posting a link seems a bit fraught, as the Met Office keep changing their website and this makes any link out of date fairly quickly. All I can suggest is that you work your way through the historic data on the Met Office website and find that closest to where you live. Once all the data is filled into the white cells on the spreadsheet, you should get some numerical data in the green cells, plus two graphs will appear. The graphical data is often the most useful. First, there is a basic heat loss versus outside air temperature plot (the Heat Loss Vs Delta T plot). You can use this to determine how much heat the house will need to maintain the room temperature that you put into the spreadsheet (it defaults to 20 deg C, but you can change this to whatever you feel comfortable with). The red line is the total heat loss, the other lines are there so you can see which elements are contributing the most to the total. If you want to know how much heat the house will need in order to maintain a temperature difference between inside and outside of 20 deg C (say a 20 deg C room temperature when it's zero deg C outside), then just go up vertically from the 20 deg C point on the horizontal axis until it meets the red line, then go across horizontally from this point to the vertical axis and read off the heating needed in watts. The other plot shows the heat loss per month, and this one can be a bit confusing, because, like the other plot, it takes no account of incidental heat gain, from solar heating, appliances, occupants etc. The best way to use this is to print it off and pencil a horizontal line across where you think you wouldn't have heating on. For example, If you turn your heating off in April/May and on again in September/October, then draw lines across at about the point where these dates cross the other lines and call that your "no heating" point. The mean heating needed for each month will then be the difference between those lines and the values on the plots. You can quickly work this out by just noting the amount of incidental heat gain, indicated by the pencilled horizontal lines, and then subtracting those values from the monthly values. Be aware that this is really a very rough estimating tool, as there will be big peaks and troughs in daily temperatures within those months that will effect the heating required. In most respects, the heat loss vs delta T plot is more useful for sizing a heating system. Hopefully the above should make some sense to anyone trying to use this tool.
  7. This post is a deliberate attempt to expose my thinking on MVHR in the hope that someone will see a flaw in what is planned or be able to make a suggestion which -as has happened before- saves us from unnecessary errors and maybe even saves us a bit of money. What have I learned about MVHR before I got here? Avoid standing hot water pipe heat loss. Get the house air tight. Forget cat flaps. Visit lots of houses with MVHR (thanks @VIPMan among several others). Don't allow your postie anywhere near the front door. Forget normal keys. Open the windows if you like, and switch the system off if you like. Many people have MVHR and don't use it or worse, haven't been told how to use it. In the passiv or nearly passivhaus sector use PHPP (again thanks @VIPMan) to estimate your heat requirement (19 Watts per square meter per annum) - in our case 5 Watts short of a picnic. Watch for overheating (10% risk in our case) Getting from numbers on a spreadsheet to buying a system As I've said elsewhere, here be dragons. Let's be kind and say that MVHR isn't well understood. By sellers sometimes but by Jo Public in particular. I've been digging round for two or three years now, and frankly, my heart's still in my mouth. But I have moved on from looking at a house and thinking - oh yeah, lets put a bigger log burner in there... it'll be lovely. Poor life decisions in relation to pensions taught me that. Useful, relative penury sometimes. Makes me think more, and more deeply. So, I start with a PHPP print out, our plans and send it to a company that says 'We'll do a heat-loss calculation for you' Thanks very much Here is one claculation. Hmmm, much to explain there (for me anyway) Take the Total Column: that's the total in Watts of heat that is used: Living Room uses 518 Watts If you add a 50% factor for 'safety' you get 776Watts And (next column) it takes 642 Watts to heat it, ERGO, the MVHR recovers (776-518) Watts With a Heat pump inline (MVHR and HP) I'd recover (661-518) Watts With a heat pump and a Duct heater, I'd recover (679-518 ) watts Not sure what the percentages refer to..... (help @SteamyTea Bottom line, I'll need just over 3 kW of additional heat ; 3077, 3169, 3261 to heat the house to 21/ 22 ish (bottom line in grey) So, what does this tell you? There's two of us, a cat and two dogs: cat =10 Watts, dogs 100 Watts between them, @MrsRA 1kW (hot stuff ) me a bit less, so 2 and a bit kW. Put the hoover on, the oven and a few lights (no hot water see above) and we get close to just right- or needing to open the windows? Answers on a postcard please...............