Using Home Ventilation to Keep You Comfortable and Your IAQ High

home ventilation

High energy costs have resulted in a higher priority on energy efficiency in homes and businesses. This has made homes more airtight, resulting in reduced utility bills and greater comfort. There’s a separate cost to this increased efficiency, however, and that’s worsening indoor air quality as dirty, stale air gets trapped inside the home for lengthy periods without much exchange with fresh outside air. This is likely to happen unless your home has effective home ventilation. Four main home ventilation strategies are available to modern homeowners.

Natural Ventilation

This is the cheapest and easiest option. Just open up windows and doors with screens when the outside weather allows. You can encourage a cooling cross breeze by strategically opening windows throughout your home. Do note that this tactic doesn’t work as well in the winter or when it’s excessively humid outside.

Exhaust Ventilation

This is air exchange promoted by exhaust fans, the most common being stovetop and bathrooms fans. They pull air out of certain areas, causing fresh outside air to find its way inside through whatever gaps, cracks and other openings exist in the home. Exhaust-only ventilation generally isn’t effective for whole-house ventilation.

Exhaust ventilation is effective at removing dirty air from small rooms and areas. During cold weather, it helps remove moisture and prevent condensation. Its signature disadvantage is that you can’t be sure where the replacement air is coming from; it might be dirty air from an attached garage, basement or crawl space. There’s also no way to filter that incoming air.

Supply-Only Ventilation

In this home ventilation strategy, one or more fans draw in outside air from a known source and distribute it throughout the house. You know where the ventilating air is coming from, and you can filter that air before it’s circulated. Supply-only ventilation is more involved and expensive than exhaust ventilation, requiring controls, fans and ducts. You have three sub-options within this category:

  • Stand-alone supply ventilation – A fan draws fresh outside air into the home. During very hot or cold times of year, this isn’t a great option since the air has to be conditioned — either cooled or warmed — before being circulated in the home.
  • CFIS ventilation system – This is usually seen in hot, muggy climates. It uses the home’s air conditioner or heating blower to draw outside air indoors through ducts. Inside the home’s return ductwork, that air mixes with household air before being filtered and conditioned in the central A/C or heating system.
  • Ventilation humidifier – Also a good choice in humid climates, this system operates like a stand-alone supply ventilation system, but with dehumidification. Two separate ducts suck outside and inside air into a box that contains a dehumidifier. It removes moisture from air before it gets distributed in the home through another duct.

Balanced Home Ventilation

This is the best choice if your budget can handle it. When air moves in and out of a home simultaneously, there’s no adverse effect on household air pressure. Generally, with any ventilation system, you want to avoid unbalanced air pressure that results in dirty air and discomfort in the home.

When it comes to balanced home ventilation, the most common options are heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs). Using parallel airstreams, one heading inside and the other heading outside, these systems exchange heat energy (in the HRV) or both heat and moisture (ERV). During warm weather, heat contained in incoming air is shifted to the outflowing air. In cold weather, the opposite happens.

In each case, depending on the season, heat is transferred so it doesn’t add to the cooling load or it helps with heating. The ERV has the added benefit of also transferring moisture between the two airstreams, which helps with humidification control.

Balanced systems, with their elaborate duct and fan configuration, are relatively costly, but with that price comes highly effective ventilation.

For more information on effective ventilation in your Frankford area home, check out Custom Mechanical’s home ventilation options, or call us at 877-696-0808.

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