ABSTRACT

Fuel poverty is one of the global concerns affecting not only users' financial capacity or affordability for maintaining housing operation but also the occupants' health and wellbeing. Space heating and cooling require a relatively large amount of domestic energy use in housing. Therefore, this study was formed with the aim to propose an innovative approach to utilising free, clean renewable sources of energy applicable to the space heating and cooling of housing in both cold and hot regions. Accordingly, housing test facilities based in Melbourne, Australia, and Kuching, Malaysia, were selected and used for this study that examined the thermal performance of a proposed ‘hydronic radiator’ (HR) system through simulation and onsite measurements. The geothermal heat capacity of a ‘vertical ground heat exchanger’ (VGHE) installed in the house in Melbourne was examined previously by the authors and the VGHE measured data was also applied to this HR performance simulation. The water that circulates through the HRs is heated by sunlight and VGHE or cooled by night sky radiation. This study drew conclusions that the sole utilisation of renewable sources through these proposed HR space heating and cooling systems can provide thermally accessible or comfortable indoor living environments in both heating or cooling dominant regions. Thus, fuel poverty issues may be alleviated through HR system application. The HRs can remove a ‘sensible’ portion of metabolic heat, but they cannot effectively contribute to the ‘latent’ heat removal. Thus, the future potential use or effect of ‘flow-through’ HRs, which are integrated into a underfloor air distribution (UFAD) plenum, was also dsicussed in this study. In the test house located in Melbourne, the flow-through HR UFAD system is currently under development. Therefore, the performance will be measured once the system has come into operation for further testing.

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