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Gas vs. Electric? Fuel Choice Affects Efforts to Achieve Low-Energy and Low-Impact Homes

If we wish to make your home as energy-efficient and immature as possible, should we use gas or electric for your heating and cooling needs?

NIST’s Net Zero Energy Residential Test Facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland, supposing measurements for a NIST investigate of a environmental impacts of gas and electric HVAC systems in energy-efficient Maryland homes. Credit: Beamie Young/NIST

Gas is a some-more eco-friendly option—for now—for an energy-efficient home in Maryland. That’s a end of a new mercantile investigate by a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), that evaluated a appetite use and environmental impact of gas contra electric heating, movement and atmosphere conditioning (HVAC) systems in low-energy residential dwellings. The NIST work provides a investigate process that others can use to perform their possess investigate on that record is some-more auspicious for their internal areas.

“Fuel form is an critical cause since heating and cooling accounts for a poignant volume of home appetite consumption,” pronounced NIST polite operative David Webb, one of a authors of a new study, published in a Journal of Building Engineering. “However, small investigate has been conducted looking during a impact of that fuel source is used, gas or electric, on achieving low-energy and low-impact goals. We used a singular NIST apparatus set of databases and program famous as BIRDS [Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability] to cruise and magnitude that impact scientifically, and afterwards furnish a investigate process for others to do a same for any meridian segment in a United States.”

Since a entrance in 2014, building professionals have used BIRDS to weigh and magnitude a sustainability of both a materials and appetite used by a building around a lifetime. Using mechanism models subsequent from BIRDS data, architects, constructional engineers, construction managers and other homebuilding stakeholders can make science-based, cost-effective decisions on how to emanate and say high-performance, green, and low- or net-zero appetite residences.

The new gas-versus-electric fuel source investigate uses information found in one of a 3 databases creation adult a latest chronicle of BIRDS (v4.0), measurements that were performed from ongoing investigate during NIST’s Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF).

Built as a prototypical two-story, four-bedroom suburban home on NIST’s campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a NZERTF is indeed a laboratory where NIST researchers and attention partners design, exam and weigh a materials, technologies and strategies that will furnish a home that produces during slightest as most appetite as it consumes over a march of a year.

To control their study, Webb and his colleagues had to create, around mechanism modeling, a home formed on a NIST net-zero judgment with an electric HVAC complement and a practical twin that instead used natural-gas-fired space and H2O heating equipment. “This authorised us to make a loyal apples-to-apples comparison of gas contra electric for their particular energy, environmental and mercantile impacts,” pronounced Joshua Kneifel, a NIST economist and coauthor of a study.

To perform an investigate of gas and electric HVAC systems in energy-efficient Maryland homes, mechanism simulations of a Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility were carried out with a singular NIST apparatus set of databases and program famous as BIRDS (Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability). Credit: NIST

The researchers compared a dual unnatural homes as if they were built to stream Maryland codes and standards for low appetite use, incorporated existent record and equipment, and were in a same meridian section as a tangible NZERTF. Running a models, a program deliberate 960,000 building pattern combinations and 8 opposite mercantile scenarios to guess opening over a duration of adult to 30 years.

Under those criteria, a investigate formula advise that a healthy gas HVAC complement is now some-more careful altogether than an electric one for a code-compliant Maryland home. Although net-zero appetite opening was achieved during a lowest cost regulating electric heating, it came with aloft environmental impacts due to a emissions generated during a production.

“The altogether mercantile advantage of healthy gas was approaching because, during this time, it is a cheaper fuel source in Maryland, costs reduction in dollars and appetite spent to furnish and transport, and carries a reduce construction cost for designation of an HVAC complement that uses it,” Webb explained.

However, Kneifel pronounced that electric might nonetheless turn a improved discount and some-more eco-friendly option.

“For example, as some-more appetite companies pierce to cleaner forms of electric generation, such as healthy gas instead of coal, a environmental impact will lessen,” he explained. “Also, record changes, such as cheaper and some-more fit solar appetite and HVAC systems, should assistance make a use of electricity some-more cost-effective.”

The NIST group members acknowledge that their sustainability investigate was singular in terms of a apparatus type, passenger appetite direct and location. They titillate other organizations to continue and enhance their investigate to cruise several pivotal variables. These embody a use of choice apparatus such as ground-source feverishness exchangers and high-velocity HVAC systems, cost and opening in a accumulation of climates, and differences in building operation that can impact appetite expenditure rates. Most importantly, they pronounced that destiny studies contingency comment for improvements in technology, construction materials and methods, and appetite prolongation and transmission.

Paper: E. O’Rear, D. Webb, J. Kneifel and C. O’Fallon. Gas vs electric: Heating complement fuel source implications on low-energy single-family home sustainability performance. Journal of Building Engineering. September 2019 issue. Accepted publishing posted online May 6, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.jobe.2019.100779

Source: NIST


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