Accounting for around 40% of the total final energy consumption, the building stock is an important area of focus on the way to reaching the energy goals set for the European Union. The relatively small share of new buildings makes renovation of existing buildings possibly the most feasible way of improving the overall energy performance of the building stock. This of course involves improvements on the climate shell, for example by additional insulation or change of window glazing, but also installation of new heating systems, to increase the energy efficiency and to fit the new heat load after renovation. In the choice of systems for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), it is important to consider their performance for space heating as well as for domestic hot water (DHW), especially for a renovated house where the DHW share of the total heating consumption is larger.
The present study treats the retrofitting of a generic single family house, which was defined as a reference building in a European energy renovation project. Three HVAC retrofitting options were compared from a techno-economic point of view: A) Air-to-water heat pump (AWHP) and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR), B) Exhaust air heat pump (EAHP) with low-temperature ventilation radiators, and C) Gas boiler and ventilation with MVHR. The systems were simulated for houses with two levels of heating demand and four different locations: Stockholm, Gdansk, Stuttgart and London. They were then evaluated by means of life cycle cost (LCC) and primary energy consumption. Dynamic simulations were done in TRNSYS 17.
In most cases, system C with gas boiler and MVHR was found to be the cheapest retrofitting option from a life cycle perspective. The advantage over the heat pump systems was particularly clear for a house in Germany, due to the large discrepancy between national prices of natural gas and electricity. In Sweden, where the price difference is much smaller, the heat pump systems had almost as low or even lower life cycle costs than the gas boiler system. Considering the limited availability of natural gas in Sweden, systems A and B would be the better options. From a primary energy point of view system A was the best option throughout, while system B often had the highest primary energy consumption. The limited capacity of the EAHP forced it to use more auxiliary heating than the other systems did, which lowered its COP. The AWHP managed the DHW load better due to a higher capacity, but had a lower COP than the EAHP in space heating mode. Systems A and C were notably favoured by the air heat recovery, which significantly reduced the heating demand.
It was also seen that the DHW share of the total heating consumption was, as expected, larger for the house with the lower space heating demand. This confirms the supposition that it is important to include DHW in the study of HVAC systems for retrofitting.
HVAC, retrofit, techno-economic, heat pump, ventilation radiator, gas boiler, LCC, primary energy, dynamic simulation