Modelling the Delivery of Residential Thermal Comfort and Energy Savings: Comparing How Occupancy Type Affects the Success of Energy Efficiency Measures

  • Erica MarshallEmail author
  • Julia Steinberger
  • Tim Foxon
  • Valerie Dupont
Conference paper


There is a significant challenge in residential energy efficiency retrofit. Typically, people are incorporated in building modelling work through the standardised occupancy pattern of a typical household. However, there is strong evidence to show that the influence of individual users on domestic energy use is significant. The purpose of this work is to enhance building energy modelling capabilities by incorporating insight into how occupants live in their homes and considering the effectiveness with which heating systems deliver thermal comfort. Energy efficiency measures (EEMs) of thermal insulation and heating controls are compared for three distinct household occupancy patterns; working family, working couple and daytime-present couple. These are compared based on heating energy demand savings and on how well they can deliver thermal comfort using a novel factor, the Heating Comfort Gap (HCG). The model uses engineering building modelling software TRNSYS. The results from this modelling work show that successful reductions in energy consumption depend on the appropriate matching between EEMs and occupancy type. This work will help to improve the accuracy of calculations of energy savings in peoples’ homes which could have significant benefits for policies such as the UK’s Green Deal. It could also progress the tools available for giving tailored advice on how best residential energy use can be reduced.


Building energy simulation modelling Energy efficiency measures Occupancy Thermal comfort 


  1. Baker, P. (2011). Technical Paper 10: U-values and traditional buildings, Glasgow.Google Scholar
  2. BRE. (2014). SAP 2012 The government’s standard assessment procedure for energy rating of dwellings: 2012 edition, Watford.Google Scholar
  3. Crawley, D. B., et al. (2008). Contrasting the capabilities of building energy performance simulation programs. Building and Environment, 43(4), 661–673.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. De Dear, R. (2004). Thermal comfort in practice. Indoor air, 14(Suppl 7), 32–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. DECC. (2013a). Energy trends: September 2013, special feature articles—estimates of heat use in the United Kingdom in 2012, London.Google Scholar
  6. DECC. (2013b). Statistical release: Experimental statistics. estimates of home insulation levels in Great Britain: July 2013, London.Google Scholar
  7. DECC. (2014a). Energy consumption in the UK: Chapter 3: Domestic energy consumption in the UK between 1970 and 2013, London.Google Scholar
  8. DECC. (2014b). How heating controls affect domestic energy demand : A rapid evidence assessment, London.Google Scholar
  9. Fanger, P. O. (1967). Calculation of thermal comfort, Introduction of a basic comfort equation. ASHRAE Transactions, 73(2), 3–4.Google Scholar
  10. Gill, Z. M., et al. (2010). Low-energy dwellings: The contribution of behaviours to actual performance. Building Research & Information, 38(5), 491–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gram-Hanssen, K. (2004). Domestic electricity consumption—consumers and appliances. In L. Reisch & I. Røpke (Eds.), The ecological economics of consumption. Cheltenham.Google Scholar
  12. Gram-Hanssen, K. (2012). Efficient technologies or user behaviour, which is the more important when reducing households’ energy consumption? Energy Efficiency, 6(3), 447–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Haas, R., et al. (2008). Towards sustainability of energy systems: A primer on how to apply the concept of energy services to identify necessary trends and policies. Energy Policy, 36(11), 4012–4021.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Judkoff, R. (2008). Testing and validation of building energy simulation tools: Final task management report. In: IEA solar heating & cooling program, task 34. International Energy Agency; 2008.Google Scholar
  15. Li, F. G. N., et al. (2015). Solid-wall U -values: Heat flux measurements compared with standard assumptions. Building Research & Information, 43(2), 238–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lovins, A. B. (1976). Energy strategy—the road not taken? Foreign Affairs, pp. 65–96.Google Scholar
  17. Nørgård, J. S. (2000). Models of energy saving systems: The battlefield of environmental planning. International Journal of Global Energy Issues, 13, 102–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Palmer, J., & Cooper, I. (2013). Housing energy fact file, London.Google Scholar
  19. Quayle, R. G., & Diaz, H. F. (1980). Heating degree day data applied to residential heating energy consumption. Journal of Applied Meteorology, 19, 241–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rudge, J. (2012). Coal fires, fresh air and the hardy British: A historical view of domestic energy efficiency and thermal comfort in Britain. Energy Policy, 49, 6–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rye, C., & Scott, C. (2012). The SPAB research report 1: U-value report.Google Scholar
  22. Shove, E. (2003). Comfort, clenliness and convenience: The social organisation of normality. Oxford: Berg Publishers.Google Scholar
  23. Stevens, G., & Bradford, J. (2013). Do U-value insulation? England’s field trial of solid wall insulation. In ECEEE Summer Study Proceedings 2013 (pp. 1269–1280).Google Scholar
  24. Szokolay, S. V. (2007). Introduction to architectural science: The basis of sustainable design. Oxford: Architectural Press.Google Scholar
  25. Tap, M., et al. (2011). Simulation of thermal comfort of a residential house. International Journal of Computer Science, 8(5), 200–208.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erica Marshall
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julia Steinberger
    • 2
  • Tim Foxon
    • 2
  • Valerie Dupont
    • 3
  1. 1.Doctoral Training Centre in Low Carbon Technologies, Energy Research InstituteUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  2. 2.Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and EnvironmentUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  3. 3.Faculty of Engineering, Energy Research InstituteUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations