Ph.D. student eyes how modified
HVAC could lower electric bills


Simge Andolsun, a doctoral architecture student at Texas A&M, has received funding from an international technical society to research how a modified air-conditioning system could produce energy savings for low-income households in hot and humid climates.

Her study, which has received a two-year, $10,000 graduate student grant-in-aid award from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, looks at a conceptual system that cools a home based on where its inhabitants are at different times of the day.

Andolsun is conducting her research in colonias — impoverished, unincorporated and relatively undeveloped villages that dot the U.S. side of the U.S.–Mexico border.

She will use data identifying when areas of the subject homes are in use, such as living areas, kitchens and bedrooms.

“In each house, said Andolsun, “there are certain time periods that rooms are occupied; a trackable, recordable behavior.”

She will then divide the residences into zones, then use energy modeling software in virtual homes to determine the distribution of conditioned air in occupied and unoccupied zones.

For instance, the living room wouldn’t need to be air conditioned if the home’s occupants were sleeping in their bedrooms from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. In this scenario, reused air, that is, conditioned air from bedroom, would be used to cool the living room during overnight hours when it’s not being used.

“How much energy will be needed to move the air to the unoccupied zone? How much air should be sent? Do we use a controlled airflow? Do we move the cool air with a fan, or will the air move with its own flow? How much money would such a system save? These are some of the questions the study will address,” said Andolsun.

During hot months, she said, in a home retrofitted with an atrium, warm air could be gathered into the atrium from unoccupied rooms then expelled from the home.

Andolsun said such a system could provide an affordable solution for low-income residents who have no air conditioning but can't afford the monthly bills of a conventional system.


- Posted: Apr. 28, 2011 -

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Contact:   Phillip Rollfing, or 979.458.0442.


Simge Andolsun

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