July 1, 2007


A range of house and mechanical system types were evaluated, including standard building enclosures and cooling systems and high-performance building envelopes with enhanced cooling or supplemental dehumidification systems. Conventional cooling systems in standard houses usually provide reasonable humidity control (below 60% RH) in midsummer. However, high humidity levels are observed at times when cooling loads are modest. The addition of continuous mechanical ventilation to standard houses is humid climates did not consistently increase indoor humidity levels. Indoor humidity levels were highest in high-performance, low sensible heat gain homes with mechanical ventilation. In these homes, the temperature balance point is higher, so there are many hours when sensible cooling is not required yet there are still significant moisture loads from internal sources and ventilation. These homes often require a separate dehumidifier to maintain space humidity in the swing seasons and at night when the thermostat is satisfied. The use of supplemental dehumidification in a high-performance house enables the implementation of efficiency improvements that significantly reduce sensible cooling demand while still maintaining proper humidity levels.