Energy use in the building stock represents a major contribution to the total energy use in developed countries. Increasing limitations to the energy demand of the new buildings have been imposed by the building codes in the last decades, which resulted in improved building envelopes.
Yet, in many cases it is not either technically or economically feasible to improve the existing building shells. A typical example is represented by historical buildings, such churches and old buildings, which often may not be improved for aesthetical or economic reasons. Often poorly insulated, such buildings would require a high energy demand to keep them at the preferable hygro-thermal conditions. As a consequence they are often left unheated, which also affects the usability of these buildings. However, the risk of moisture damage often requires them to be slightly heated to a certain temperature.
As the energy demand is linked to the possibility of improving the building shell, the exergy approach gives interesting insights on the problem. Exergy analysis emphasizes the thermodynamic valuable part of the energy demand in the building and straightforwardly defines the minimum energy demand for a certain process. The energy demand being equal, it is still possible to lower the exergy demand and consumption. A lower exergy demand paves the way to the exploitation of renewable sources, such as solar power.
Often the main task is to keep the RH humidity within a certain range. Aim of this paper is to perform a theoretical exergy analysis of three different solutions for lowering the RH in the building. The basic approach keeps the temperature of the indoor space at a constant level. A second approach-the so-called conservation heating- consists in letting the temperature vary according to the maximum allowed indoor relative humidity. In the third case the target is reached by means of a dehumidification process. Advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches are shown under the energy and exergy points of view.
The present research is done within the framework of the "Spara och bevara" project, which targets cost-efficient solutions for the conservation and the use of heritage buildings in Sweden and the IEA Annex49 and ESF COSTexergy projects, which aim at energy-efficient buildings and communities through the application of the low-exergy approach.