Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is most evident during the winter months. Due to the low humidity, our nasal passages dry out and are more susceptible to the airborne contaminants in our home. This results in increased rates of sickness and respiratory problems.
Here’s how to improve your indoor air quality for winter:
1. Exhaust Fans
The bathrooms and kitchens need working exhaust fans to expel unwanted moisture. When moisture builds up in these rooms, wallpaper and paint can peel, and rust, mold, and mildew will develop.
Ventilation is increasingly important as homes get more and more insulated. The V in HVAC stands for “ventilation” for a reason. The purpose of ventilation is to get rid of the odors, chemicals, pollutants, and humidity that gets trapped inside of the home.
In addition to ventilating your fuel-burning appliances, it’s also important to provide general ventilation for the rest of the home. A long time ago, homes didn’t need to worry too much about ventilation since there were so many gaps, cracks, and holes in the building’s shell. Now, with increasingly tight homes and building materials that result in offgassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals, mechanical ventilation is becoming more and more necessary.
2. Supply-Only Ventilators
Exhaust fans are a great way to dispel air outdoors, but as the name implies, they only exhaust the indoor air, they don’t bring fresh air indoors. For that, you will want a supply-only ventilation system. As with other mechanical ventilation system, this is best left to the professionals.
One risk of supply ventilation is bringing in unwanted moisture into the home, where moisture and condensation problems could develop.
Usually, we recommend a balanced ventilation system which pulls in fresh air while exhausting stale air. Normally, the fresh air is brought into the main living spaces, such as living rooms and bedrooms, whereas the stale air is exhausted from chemical and moisture-laden areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and project areas.
3. Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)
The solution may lie in a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). Newer homes, along with retrofitted older homes, suffer from two critical problems when they’re tightly sealed and insulated: poor air quality and a lack of ventilation. The HRV addresses both problems, while keeping efficiency at the forefront.
Working simultaneously, the HRV’s fan draws outside air into the home through the incoming vent while another fan pulls inside air through the system and out the exhaust vent. The two streams of air move through the core of the HRV, where the heat exchanger resides.
In the summer, the HRV doesn’t sacrifice energy efficiency. Instead of preheating the air, it uses the cool energy in the outgoing supply of air to pre-cool the incoming supply. Most HRVs can recover about 85 percent of the energy in the outgoing air, which reduces operating costs significantly. HRVs are a great way to introduce fresh air while minimizing the associated energy loss.
4. Whole-House Fans
Whole-house fans are normally installed in the attic, where they work to pull in fresh air while expelling stale air through attic vents. They can also help lower your energy costs during the hot summer months. This is normally accomplished by refreshing the indoor air with cool evening air at night, helping reduce the workload of your AC during the daytime.
Speak with a professional about whole-house attic fans, since they may create a negative- pressure situation, causing problems with your various combustion systems.
5. Natural Ventilation
In addition to mechanical ventilation, such as exhaust fans and heat recovery ventilators, don’t forget about good old natural ventilation. While, we strongly believe that all homes should have a working mechanical ventilation system, it can also be a good idea to open up a window or door every once in a while, especially when working on projects and cleaning the home.
While natural ventilation can help, it shouldn’t be considered a substitute for mechanical ventilation systems. Most people only open up windows and doors during the summer, if at all. And natural ventilation doesn’t have the greatest air exchange.
Nearly all homes require a balanced mechanical ventilation system to balance the intake and exhaust of air. Speak with professional about central ventilation systems for your home.
While a tight, energy-efficient home is something we highly encourage, we also need to keep in mind the necessity of a well-balanced ventilation system. Contact us today for professional indoor air quality solutions, including ventilators, air purifiers, bipolar ionizers, and whole-building humidifiers.