A systems approach to retrofiting residential HVAC systems
A Best Practices Guide for retrofitting residential HVAC systems has recently been completed by DOE. The guide uses diagnostics and checklists to guide the user to specific retrofit packages that maximize retrofit energy savings, comfort and safety potential. The guide uses a systems approach to retrofitting where the interaction of different building components is considered throughout the retrofit selection process. For example, added building envelope insulation reduces building loads so that smaller capacity HVAC systems can be used. In this study, several houses were surveyed using the Best Practices Guide and a single house was selected for retrofitting. The objectives were to demonstrate how a successful system-wide retrofit can be carried out and to provide feedback to improve the guide. Because it represents a departure from current practice, a key aspect of this study was to investigate the interactions with contractors and code officials who are unfamiliar with the systems approach. The study found that the major barrier to the systems approach in retrofits was in changing the working practices of contractors and code officials.