Thermal Energy Management, ENSP 337, Fall 2015

Instructor Daniel Soto
Office Rachel Carson Hall 12
Meeting Time M/W 2:00 -- 3:50 pm
Classroom Environmental Technology Center (ETC)
Units 4

Course Catalog Description

An introduction to energy management in residential and commercial buildings, focusing on space heating and cooling, and hot water. Fundamentals of heat transfer, thermal properties of building materials, building load calculations, and energy economics. Prerequisites: MATH 160, MATH 161, or ENSP 202; and PHYS 114 or PHYS 210A or equivalent.

Learning Objectives

This course will teach you the basics of how energy is used to add or remove heat from a system. Based on these fundamentals, you will understand how our systems of heating and cooling homes affects our environment. You will gain skills in making defensible estimates of the energy use for thermal energy services like water heating and space cooling.

By the end of this course you will understand the basic physics of heat transfer and thermodynamics. With this understanding, you will be able to estimate how much energy will be used by heating processes and how much energy can be saved by new techniques. You will also be able to communicate these calculations to others. You will be able to make clear claims and support them with evidence and calculations.

To gain these abilities, you will complete exercises in computation, as well as exercises where you explain your computations. You will also practice summarizing arguments and making arguments against your own position. The assignments in this class are structured to give you practice in these skills.


Respectful tone in classroom

Civility is required from all students during discussions and interactions. In general, I expect students to be supportive of each others learning goals.

Willingness to take risks and experiment

I frequently try new approaches to teaching and learning. These are always with the intention of making this class as beneficial to you as possible.

Minimize electronic distractions

Internet-connected electronic devices (phones, tablets) may be used in class for learning purposes. Using devices for social networks or other uses during class time is strongly discouraged. If I think your use of devices is distracting others, I will let you know.

Course Requirements

Your course grade will be drawn from various assignments. These include homework assignments, work in class, quizzes, exams, and outside projects. Each of these are explained in more detail below.


By completing the homework regularly, you will develop skills necessary to take a question and get estimate for the answer. You will also develop your ability to communicate and explain these estimates in writing. Your problem sets will be graded on the clarity of communication as much as the correctness of the result.

You are encouraged to work in teams and discuss the strategies and even numerical answers you are getting. You are strongly discouraged from looking at other students completed assignments. If you look at your classmates completed work, you are denying yourself the opportunity to construct the solution on you own and will prevent you from developing your skills.

The work you produce in this class will be practice for the work you will do in the professional world. Your homework assignments will be typeset, printed, and turned in. Your calculations should be performed using a program where the details of the calculation are recorded. I recommend a program called Jupyter, but you may use others such as Mathematica or Matlab. You will also give feedback on each others assignments.

Each homework problem turned in on time and receiving credit will receive one point. If you do not get credit the first time, you can resubmit it for one half point of credit.

Classroom Work and Quizzes

By participating in classroom work regularly, you will gain skills you need to collaborate with others on problem solving. This classroom work may take the form of writing exercises, group exercises, or quizzes. If you have an unexcused absence on the day of work, you will not receive credit for that day's assignment. I grant excused absences when I receive an email before the start of class with a compelling reason for the absence.


By completing your class project, you will gain skills building a physical prototype, making predictions about its behavior, and explaining this to others. We will be building devices where we practice what we've learned in this class. You will be expected to purchase a few materials (foam, tape, wood) for this. Please see me if this creates a difficulty for you and we can look for a solution.

Excused absences

I grant excused absences when I receive an email before the start of class with a compelling reason for the absence.


Most work in this class is graded pass/no-credit. Every assignment successfully completed will earn a specified number of points. The number of points you earn will dictate your grade in the class. Note that the majority of the points are awarded for homework and in-class activities.

Each homework turned in is worth two points. Each of the quizzes and activities are worth two points.

Category Points
Homework 40
Quizzes and activities 16
Exams 12
Project 12

This is a total of 80 points.

Grade Points
A 72 or above
B 71 to 64
C 63 to 56
D 55 to 48
F 47 or below

Course Schedule

This schedule of topics will start with basic mathematics and computational tools that you will need. You will then cover the fundamental physics that dictate how thermal energy is transferred and converted. With these basics in your grasp, you will apply them to current technologies and understand how they influence policy.


  • Introduction
  • Computational Fundamentals
  • Economics Fundamentals
  • Physics Fundamentals
  • Practical Elements
  • Policy


  • Wed 26 Aug 2015 -- Context
  • Mon 31 Aug 2015 -- Questions and Overview
  • Wed 02 Sep 2015 -- Units and conversions
    • Reading Due: ERG Toolkit 1
  • Wed 09 Sep 2015 -- Computational tools
  • Mon 14 Sep 2015 -- Time value of money
    • Reading Due: Luenberger 1, 2
    • Homework Due: 1.1 - 1.5
  • Wed 16 Sep 2015 -- Investment metrics
  • Mon 21 Sep 2015 -- Energy and Power and Heat
    • Reading Due: Hewitt 14
    • Homework Due: 2.1 - 2.5
  • Wed 23 Sep 2015 -- Combustion
  • Mon 28 Sep 2015 -- Conduction
    • Homework Due: 3.1 - 3.2, 1.1 - 1.5 makeup
  • Wed 30 Sep 2015 -- Conduction
    • Reading Due: Hewitt 15
  • Mon 05 Oct 2015 -- Convection
    • Homework Due: 3.3 - 3.4, 2.1 - 2.5 makeup
  • Wed 07 Oct 2015 -- Convection
    • Reading Due: Masters EFS 6
  • Mon 12 Oct 2015 -- Radiation
    • Homework Due: 3.5 - 3.6, 3.1 - 3.2 makeup
  • Wed 14 Oct 2015 -- Review
  • Mon 19 Oct 2015 -- Midterm
  • Wed 21 Oct 2015 -- Sustainability Day
  • Mon 26 Oct 2015 -- Radiation
  • Wed 28 Oct 2015 -- Radiation
  • Mon 02 Nov 2015 -- Phase change
    • Reading Due: Hewitt 16
    • Homework Due: 3.7 - 3.8
  • Wed 04 Nov 2015 -- Thermodynamics
    • Reading Due: Hewitt 17
  • Mon 09 Nov 2015 -- Thermodynamics
    • Reading Due: Masters EFS 6
    • Homework Due: 3.9
  • Mon 16 Nov 2015 -- Heating Degree Days, TMY, CDD
    • Reading Due: Masters EFS 5
  • Wed 18 Nov 2015 -- Heating Degree Days, TMY, CDD
    • Homework Due: TBD
  • Mon 23 Nov 2015 -- Conserved cost of energy
    • Reading Due: TBD
  • Mon 30 Nov 2015 -- Conserved cost of energy
    • Homework Due: TBD
  • Wed 02 Dec 2015 -- Project
  • Mon 07 Dec 2015 -- Project
  • Wed 09 Dec 2015 -- Review

Class Text

There is no required text to be purchased for this class. You will read from several texts and the readings will be supplied on Moodle.

The texts we will draw from are:

Office Hours

Signup is online and can be accessed through my website at

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