In order to maintain healthful indoor air quality (IAQ) inside your home, daily and ample ventilation between stuffy indoor air and fresh outdoor air is required. This is especially true if you live in a newer home that was constructed with energy efficiency in mind, or if you have sealed up air leaks and shored up the insulation in an older home to save energy and boost comfort.
If you’re concerned about pollutants taking up residence in your Mid-Atlantic home, learn how properly ventilating your home can boost IAQ and home comfort, protect against property damage and help keep cooling and heating costs within reason.
What is IAQ?
IAQ refers to the quality of air in buildings, including the air inside your home’s living spaces, as it affects the occupants and building structure. Humidity levels and pollution sources inside homes which release particles, microorganisms, and gases and odors into the air make up the primary causes of unhealthful IAQ.
Moreover, poor ventilation inside a home can substantially increase the amount of indoor contaminants by not providing enough air-to-air exchange between fresh outdoor air and stale and contaminated indoor air.
Poor air-exchange rates escalate issues related to unhealthful IAQ, such as exacerbated allergies and respiratory ailments in occupants, discomforts and potential property damage due to excessive moisture. These are the classifications of indoor pollutants and conditions which may be adversely affecting your Mid-Atlantic home’s IAQ:
- Odors and gases, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may include cooking odors, tobacco smoke, cat litter, pesticides, aerosols, cleaning supplies, radon, building-structure chemicals, paints and solvents.
- Microorganisms include dust mites, mold spores, germs, fungi, viruses and bacteria.
- Particles include common household dust, pollen and pet dander.
- Indoor humidity affects comfort and property, and is a contributing factor toward the proliferation of microorganisms. Humidity is affected by the number of occupants and their activities, such as cooking, clothes washing and drying and other activities which affect moisture.
Does your IAQ need a fresh approach?
Fresh air ventilation is the natural and economical solution to engaging poor IAQ. Three strategies for ventilating your home include natural ventilation, spot ventilators and whole-house ventilators.
Natural air exchange provides fresh air for your home the old-fashioned way — by opening windows and doors, and also by air infiltration through holes, leaks and cracks in the home’s shell, insulation barrier and even the duct system. Opening up windows is a delight on days when the weather is pleasant, but it’s impractical when the Mid-Atlantic weather is disagreeable for much of the year.
Natural air infiltration through the shell, insulation barrier and ductwork wastes energy, compromises comfort and can be unhealthful, such as when contaminated air in crawl spaces, basement or the attic are sucked into leaky ducts. Natural ventilation is also uncontrolled and doesn’t provide a consistent source for fresh air exchange.
Spot ventilators include kitchen and bathroom fans. Spot ventilators are common and very helpful in terms of improving the effectiveness of natural air exchange and whole-house ventilators by removing indoor contaminants at the source. For example, a fan above the stove can remove cooking odors, and a bathroom fan helps remove excessive moisture. However, spot ventilators are limited in volume of air movement, and they only expel contaminated indoor air with no in-flowing fresh air.
A fresh and popular IAQ strategy for many homeowners is whole-house ventilation. A heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) is a whole-house mechanical ventilation system which provides energy-efficient and complete air exchange between fresh outdoor air and contaminated indoor air.
HRVs use a fresh air intake fan to pull fresh outside air into the ductwork (current duct system or installed HRV-dedicated ducts) and circulate the air through the living spaces. Another major benefit that an HRV delivers for homeowners, in addition to controlled fresh air exchange, is heat transfer between in-flowing fresh air and out-flowing contaminated air.
HRVs use a cube-shaped heat-exchange coil which transfers heat between thin metal plates. This provides an affordable means to replenish the air in your home 24/7/365 without a significant increase, if any increase at all, in cooling and heating expenses.
For instance, during hot summer days, heat is transferred from in-flowing warm air to out-flowing cool air. The in-flowing fresh air is pre-cooled so you don’t need to run the A/C to enjoy fresh air.
If you would like more information about the best and freshest ventilation approach for your Mid-Atlantic home, call the professionals at Griffith Energy Services, Inc. We’ve proudly provided over 100 years of quality and reliable service to homeowners in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Written by Kevin Spain