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Heat Loss from Buildings

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The overall heat loss from a building can be calculated as

H = H t + Hv + H i (1)


H = overall heat loss (W)

H t = heat loss due to transmission through walls, windows, doors, floors and more (W)

Hv = heat loss caused by ventilation (W)

H i = heat loss caused by infiltration (W)

1. Heat loss through walls, windows, doors, ceilings, floors, etc.>

The heat loss, or norm-heating load, through walls, windows, doors, ceilings, floors etc. can be calculated as

H t = A U (t i - t o ) (2)


H t = transmission heat loss (W)

A = area of exposed surface (m2)

U = overall heat transmission coefficient (W/m2K)

t i = inside air temperature (oC)

t o = outside air temperature (oC)

Heat loss through roofs should be added 15% extra because of radiation to space. (2) can be modified to:

H = 1.15 A U (t i - t o ) (2b)

For walls and floors against earth (2) should be modified with the earth temperature:

H = A U (t i - t e ) (2c)


t e = earth temperature (oC)


Overall Heat Transmission Coefficient

The overall of heat transmission coefficient - U - can be calculated as

U = 1 / (1 / C i + x1 / k1 + x2/ k2+ x3 / k3 + .. + 1 / C o ) (3)


C i = surface conductance for inside wall (W/m2K)

x = thickness of material (m)

k = thermal conductivity of material (W/mK)

C o = surface conductance for outside wall (W/m2K)

The conductance of a building element can be expressed as:

C = k / x (4)


C = conductance, heat flow through unit area in unit time (W/m2K)

Thermal resistivity of a building element is the inverse of the conductance and can be expressed as:

R = x / k = 1 / C (5)


R = thermal resistivity (m2K/W)

With (4) and (5), (3) can be modified to

1 / U = R i + R1 + R2+ R3 + .. + R o (6)


R i = thermal resistivity surface inside wall (m2K/W)

R 1.. = thermal resistivity in the separate wall/construction layers (m2K/W)

R o = thermal resistivity surface outside wall (m2K/W)

For walls and floors against earth (6) - can be modified to

1 / U = R i + R1 + R2+ R3 + .. + R o + R e (6b)


R e = thermal resistivity of earth (m2K/W)


2. Heat loss by ventilation

The heat loss due to ventilation without heat recovery can be expressed as:

Hv = cp ρ qv (t i - t o ) (7)


Hv = ventilation heat loss (W)

cp = specific heat air (J/kg K)

ρ = density of air (kg/m3 )

qv = air volume flow (m3 /s)

t i = inside air temperature (oC)

t o = outside air temperature (oC)

The heat loss due to ventilation with heat recovery can be expressed as:

Hv = (1 - β/100) cp ρ qv (t i - t o ) (8)


β = heat recovery efficiency (%)

An heat recovery efficiency of approximately 50% is common for a normal cross flow heat exchanger. For a rotating heat exchanger the efficiency may exceed 80% .


3. Heat loss by infiltration

Due to leakages in the building construction, opening and closing of windows, etc. the air in the building shifts. As a rule of thumb the number of air shifts is often set to 0.5 per hour. The value is hard to predict and depend of several variables - wind speed, difference between outside and inside temperatures, the quality of the building construction etc.

The heat loss caused by infiltration can be calculated as

H i = cp ρ n V (t i - t o ) (9)


H i = heat loss infiltration (W)

cp = specific heat air (J/kg/K)

ρ = density of air (kg/m3 )

n = number of air shifts, how many times the air is replaced in the room per second (1/s) (0.5 1/hr = 1.4 10-4 1/s as a rule of thumb)

V = volume of room (m3 )

t i = inside air temperature (oC)

t o = outside air temperature (oC)

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