Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction


Date of this Version



Energies 2012, 5, 3218-3232; doi:10.3390/en5093218


Copyright © 2012, the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Open access, Creative Commons Attribution license 4.0.


The impacts of ventilation ratio and vent balance on cooling load and air flow of naturally ventilated attics are studied in this paper using an unsteady computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model. Buoyancy-driven turbulent ventilations in attics of gable-roof residential buildings are simulated for typical summer conditions. Ventilation ratios from 1/400 to 1/25 combined with both balanced and unbalanced vent configurations are investigated. The modeling results show that the air flows in the attics are steady and exhibit a general streamline pattern that is qualitatively insensitive to the variations in ventilation ratio and vent configuration. The predicted temperature fields are characterized by thermal stratification, except for the soffit regions. It is demonstrated that an increase in ventilation ratio will reduce attic cooling load. Compared with unbalanced vent configurations, balanced attic ventilation is shown to be the optimal solution in both maximizing ventilating flow rate and minimizing cooling load for attics with ventilation ratio lower than 1/100. For attics with ventilation ratios greater than 1/67, a configuration of large ridge vent with small soffit vent favors ventilating air flow enhancement, while a configuration of small ridge vent with large soffit vent results in the lowest cooling energy consumption.