Design principles for thermally comfortable and low energy homes in the extreme hot-humid climatic Gulf region, with reference to Dammam, Saudi Arabia
Alshaikh, Abdulrahman Mohammed A.
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Indoor thermal comfort and its consequent energy consumption, are an increasingly important area of consideration in both developed and developing countries. The Gulf States, characterised by their composite extreme hot-humid climate and Airconditioning dependent society are renowned for their high energy consumption. The main aim of this research is to review and report on ways to enhance occupant thermal comfort in homes through improved building and system design and use that minimises energy consumption possible, in the extreme climate of Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The thesis does this by measuring and analysing the thermal performance of the buildings, the thermal satisfaction and comfort responses of their occupants and the energy consumption in them during August 2013 for the summer period and January 2014 for the winter period of the study. The comfort of occupants was assessed using the adaptive thermal comfort method. Neutral indoor air temperatures were, in several homes, surprisingly high. Moreover, most of the studied dwellings do not represent thermally comfortable homes as defined within either PMV or adaptive comfort limits. The study went on to review a broad range of factors that might strongly influence neutral temperatures indoors including the properties of the dwellings, occupant behaviours and attitudes towards high energy demand, loads and costs. The findings are discussed and conclusions drawn on individual design features that contribute to the comfort or discomfort experienced by occupants. It was found that lifestyle, attitudes and other socio-cultural factors have a clear influence on the comfort and in turn energy use in individual dwellings. Although several respondents did not sincerely care about the electricity as it is cheap, in late 2015 the Saudi government hiked the price of domestic energy bills by 60% as a result of low oil prices, putting pressure on many ordinary families to take more notice of their day to day living expenses. The recent electricity price hike provides an economic impetus for the design guidance proffered in the conclusions of this thesis to be taken seriously by householders and implemented by both them and regulating authorities in order to enhance domestic buildings and in turn reduce the CO2 emissions to the global atmosphere. The conclusion of this study is broadly applicable to other regions with similar climatic conditions and cultural contexts such as the Gulf countries.