This time of year brings about an interesting conundrum.
Whether you’re pumping your home full of heat or still keeping the A/C on, it’s important to keep that conditioned air locked inside.
What a waste to spend money bringing your indoor air to the perfect temperature just to have the air escape, leaving you to heat or cool new air all over again!
However, making your home air tight isn’t the best for your home or your health. Ventilation is necessary to rid your home of natural and man-made air pollutants that build up over time.
Natural ventilation, such as opening doors and windows, is easy, but makes it difficult to control the temperature and humidity levels of your indoor air.
Luckily, there are many solutions to ventilating your home, including some that will help keep you from wasting extra energy heating or cooling fresh air.
The simplest mechanical ventilation device is an exhaust fan. As these devices are relatively common, we won’t spend too much time elaborating on them.
However, there are several varieties of exhaust fans that are good to distinguish. Surface-mounted fans, such as bathroom fans, are simple fans that evacuate moisture, odors, and other contaminants from the area they serve.
These fans are found inside the room (typically mounted on the ceiling) and connect to the home's exhaust ducting system. Because they are located in the room, many fans are combined with lighting fixtures – some even hiding the fan almost completely.
Inline duct fans are installed in a remote location within the duct system and allow for the venting of multiple spaces with just a single fan. This means that when you flip the switch in any room the fan services, all rooms will be ventilated at once.
Since the fan isn’t located in the space being ventilated, it reduces the noise made by the fan, a big benefit for those bothered by the loud buzz of a typical surface-mounted fan.
Kitchens should use exhaust fans as well, primarily over the stove. Everyone has the embarrassing experience of burning something on the stove and making the fire alarm go off.
Not only will a range hood above the stove help eliminate any unwanted noise pollution from the alarm, but it also removes harmful particles resulting from the combustion process that happens during cooking.
It will also exhaust moisture build-up and that terrible smell of your experimental-recipe-gone-bad.
When an exhaust fan is used in absence of a fresh air input device, a good deal of negative pressure is created in the house. This leads to many adverse symptoms, including mold and mildew growth, back drafting of combustion fumes, musty smells, and even physical ailments such as headaches.
In addition, it forces outdoor air to infiltrate your home’s barriers and sneak inside uncontrolled in order to balance the pressure differences.
To best address this issue, it can be helpful to use a whole-house ventilation solution, such as an air exchanger, heat recovery ventilator (HRV), or energy recover ventilator (ERV).
Each one is best suited for a different type of living environment, and we’ll discuss their differences and benefits below.