Youâ€™re bound and determined to cut down on your energy bill. Youâ€™ve caulked, sealed and weatherstripped until your house is tight as a drum. But wait â€“ what about the air you breathe? Could you have gone too far? Is your house too tight?
Well, it could be â€“ especially if you live in a newer home. You need adequate air flow through your house to prevent moisture build-up and maintain a healthy indoor environment. But even if you think youâ€™ve overdone the air sealing, donâ€™t start ripping off the weather stripping just yet.
You see, for proper health the air in your home should be replaced about eight times a day â€“ more in rooms where pollutants tend to collect, like the kitchen and bathroom or any room with a gas appliance. But when your house is full of leaks you may be experiencing a dayâ€™s worth of air exchange every hour. All that extra air sucks heating and cooling dollars right out of your house.
For optimal energy efficiency you want to have control over your air flow, so you can maintain air purity standards without wasting costly energy.
Air can come into your home in three ways: natural ventilation (windows and doors), mechanical ventilation (exhaust fans, duct work, etc.) and infiltration – unintended air entry through cracks and gaps. You control the first two. The third â€“ infiltration â€“ controls you. So for best results you will want to seal as many of the cracks and holes in your house as you can find â€“ and then use ventilation methods to achieve ideal air flow.
Natural ventilation works great â€“ when the weather cooperates. But in most climates and for certain rooms where stale air tends to settle, mechanical ventilating systems are the way to go most days of the year. Strategic use of exhaust fans and ventilating devices such as Heat Recovery Ventilators and Energy Recovery Ventilators will allow you to keep your home tight and efficient, and enjoy pure clean indoor air as well.
One last note: your ventilation system is vitally important for a healthy, comfortable home. Even if youâ€™re an avid do-it-yourselfer, this is one area where it pays to consult a professional. Having an energy consultant do a home energy audit with a blower door test is a smart move â€“ and is likely to pay for itself by letting you know exactly what steps you need to take to keep your home comfortable and safe.