A low order thermal model is introduced to determine the thermal characteristics of a Low-Rise Residential (LRR) building and then predict the energy usage by its Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) system according to future weather conditions. The LRR buildings are treated as a simple lump and the model is derived using the lumped capacitance model for transient heat transfer from bodies. Most contemporary HVAC systems have a thermostat control, which has an offset temperature, and user defined set point temperatures, which defines when the HVAC system will switch on and off. The aim is to predict, with minimal error, the inside air temperature, which is used to determine the switching on and off, of the HVAC system. To validate this lumped capacitance model we have used the EnergyPlus simulation engine, which simulates the thermal behavior of buildings with considerable accuracy. We have predicted using the low order model the inside air temperature of a single family house located in three different climate zones (Detroit, Raleigh & Austin) and different orientations for summer and winter seasons. The prediction error between the model and EnergyPlus is less than 10% for almost all the cases with the exception of Austin in summer. Possible factors responsible for error in prediction are also noted in this work, paving way for future research.

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