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How Much Do You Know About Your Home's Airflow?

Monday, June 17, 2019

By John Voket You may know a lot about your house, like the square footage, year it was built and when it got that new roof, but how much do you know about its air flow? The U.S Dept. of Energy (DOE) and its energy.gov website reminds homeowners about the importance of good ventilation.

To understand the importance of having natural air flow in your home, energy.gov reminds homeowners about three basic ventilation strategies: natural ventilation, spot ventilation and whole-house ventilation.

Natural ventilation is the unpredictable and uncontrollable air movement in and out of the cracks and small holes in a home. In the past, this air leakage usually diluted air pollutants enough to maintain adequate indoor air quality.

But today, the DOE knows more people are sealing those cracks and holes to make homes more energy-efficient, and when a home is properly sealed, other types of ventilation are necessary to maintain a healthy and comfortable indoor environment.

That means you may need to consider spot ventilation, which can improve the effectiveness of natural and whole-house ventilation. The DOE says spot ventilation includes the use of localized exhaust fans, such as those used above kitchen ranges and in bathrooms.

The ultimate problem solver, however, is employing whole-house ventilation—even with source control by spot ventilation. The DOE says whole-house ventilation systems provide controlled, uniform ventilation throughout a house.

There are four types of whole-house systems:

Exhaust ventilation systems that work by depressurizing your home, which are relatively simple and inexpensive.

Supply ventilation systems that work by pressurizing your home, which are also relatively simple and inexpensive to install.

Balanced ventilation systems, which, if properly designed and installed, introduce and exhaust approximately equal quantities of fresh outside air and polluted inside air.

Energy recovery ventilation systems provide controlled ventilation while minimizing energy loss. They reduce the cost of heating ventilated air in the winter by transferring heat from the warm inside air being exhausted to the fresh (but cold) supply air. In the summer, the inside air cools the warmer supply air to reduce ventilation cooling costs.

Compare whole-house ventilation systems to determine which is right for your home.

Ventilation is the least expensive and most energy-efficient way to cool buildings, and works best when combined with techniques to avoid heat buildup in your home.

In some climates, natural ventilation is sufficient to keep the house comfortable, although it usually needs to be supplemented with spot ventilation, ceiling fans, window fans and—in larger homes—whole-house fans.

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