Using thermostats for indoor climate control in office buildings: The effect on thermal comfort
Thermostats are widely used in temperature regulation of indoor spaces and have a direct impact on energy use and occupant thermal comfort. Existing guidelines make recommendations for properly selecting set points to reduce energy use, but there is little or no information regarding the actual achieved thermal comfort of the occupants. While dry-bulb air temperature measured at the thermostat location is sometimes a good proxy, there is less understanding of whether thermal comfort targets are actually met. In this direction, we have defined an experimental simulation protocol involving two office buildings; the buildings have contrasting geometrical and construction characteristics, as well as different building services systems for meeting heating and cooling demands. A parametric analysis is performed for combinations of controlled variables and boundary conditions. In all cases, occupant thermal comfort is estimated using the Fanger index, as defined in ISO 7730. The results of the parametric study suggest that simple bounds on the dry-bulb air temperature are not sufficient to ensure comfort, and in many cases, more detailed considerations taking into account building characteristics, as well as the types of building heating and cooling services are required. The implication is that the calculation or estimation of detailed comfort indices, or even the use of personalised comfort models, is key towards a more human-centric approach to building design and operation.
Kontes, Georgios D.