Building Design and Construction

Heat Losses

Methods and principles for calculation of heat losses are presented in Art 13.3.
These methods provide a rational procedure for determination of the size and capacity of a heating plant.
Heat loads for buildings consist of heat losses and gains. Heat losses include those from air infiltration, ventilation air, and conduction through the building exterior caused by low temperatures of outside air. Heat gains include those due to people, hot outside air, solar radiation, electrical lighting and motor loads, and heat from miscellaneous interior equipment. These loads are used to determine the proper equipment size for the lowest initial cost and for operation with maximum efficiency.
Walls and Roofs. Heat loss through the walls and roofs of a building constitutes  most of the total heat loss in cold weather. These losses are calculated with Eq. (13.19), Q = UA (t2 - t1), with the appropriate temperature differential between inside and outside design temperatures.
Architectural drawings should be carefully examined to establish the materials of construction that will be used in the walls and roofs. With this information, the overall coefficient of heat transmittance, or U factor, can be determined as described in Art. 13.3. Also, from the drawings, the height and width of each wall section should be determined to establish the total area for each wall or roof section for use in Eq. (13.19).

Heat Loss through Basement Floors and Walls. Although heat-transmission coefficients through basement floors and walls are available, it is generally not practicable to use them because ground temperatures are difficult to determine because  of the many variables involved. Instead, the rate of heat flow can be estimated, for all practical purposes, from Table 13.8. This table is based on groundwater temperatures, which range from about 40 to 60F in the northern sections of the United States and 60 to 75F in the southern sections. (For specific areas, see the ‘‘ASHRAE Handbook—Fundamentals.’’)
Heat Loss from Floors on Grade. Attempts have been made to simplify the variables that enter into determination of heat loss through floors set directly on the ground. The most practical method breaks it down to a heat flow in Btu per hour per linear foot of edge exposed to the outside. With 2 in of edge insulation, the rate of heat loss is about 50 in the cold northern sections of the United States, 45 in the temperate zones, 40 in the warm south. Corresponding rates for 1-in insulation are 60, 55, and 50. With no edge insulation the rates are 75, 65, and 60 Btu/ (hr)(ft).
Heat Loss from Unheated Attics. Top stories with unheated attics above require special treatment. To determine the heat loss through the ceiling, we must calculate the equilibrium attic temperature under design inside and outside temperature conditions.
This is done by equating the heat gain to the attic via the ceiling to the heat loss through the roof:

Air Infiltration. When the heating load of a building is calculated, it is advisable to figure each room separately, to ascertain the amount of heat to be supplied to  each room. Then, compute the load for a complete floor or building and check it against the sum of the loads for the individual rooms.
Once we compute the heat flow through all exposed surfaces of a room, we  have the heat load if the room is perfectly airtight and the doors never opened.
However, this generally is not the case. In fact, windows and doors, even if weatherstripped, will allow outside air to infiltrate and inside air to exfiltrate. The amount of cold air entering a room depends on crack area, wind velocity, and number of exposures, among other things.
Attempts at calculating window- and door-crack area to determine air leakage usually yield a poor estimate. Faster and more dependable is the air-change method, which is based on the assumption that cold outside air is heated and pumped into the premises to create a static pressure large enough to prevent cold air from infiltrating.
The amount of air required to create this static pressure will depend on the volume of the room.
If the number of air changes taking place per hour N are known, the infiltration Q in cubic feet per minute can be computed from


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