You can have both clean, unpolluted air and energy efficiency. We can help.
Energy efficiency is something we all aspire to in our homes. It keeps us warm in winter, cool in summer, and it saves us money. But is there such a thing as a home that is too energy efficient? And if so, what would that look like?
Surprisingly, there is a downside to having a well-insulated home, and it can negatively impact your health and that of your family. It’s poor Indoor Air Quality or IAQ. The sorry truth is that the more tightly zipped up our homes are, the less opportunity air has to move. The less air moves, the more pollutants may linger in the air and make that air less healthy to breathe.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, our best efforts to insulate our homes have led to significant build-ups of airborne pollutants that would have found their way outside only a couple of decades ago. In fact, it’s not unusual for indoor air pollution in our homes to now measure at 2 to 5 times higher than outdoors.
That means that substances like cooking gases, household chemicals, mold, pet dander, and smoke can be found in higher levels in our homes than ever before. That’s a concern for everyone but especially those who suffer from severe allergies or asthma.
Fortunately, there are options that allow us to maintain efficiency while also ensuring cleaner, safer IAQ—ventilation systems that help us expel stale, polluted air and pull in clean air.
Monitoring Indoor Air Quality
If you have reason to suspect the IAQ of your home is a problem, air quality monitors are an inexpensive first step to take. There are literally hundreds of options available that measure humidity, temperature, volatile organic compounds (present, for example, in paint and carpeting), and particulates (dust), as well as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and radon.
Such monitors are or can be a part of a smart home system or can be individual stations. Upon measuring for all of these elements, a monitor will provide an air quality index.
Along with determining an air quality index, it may be prudent to note any health symptoms (like a runny nose or persistent sneezing) that may be related to air quality. Factors to consider include time of day and room or area of the house, both of which can provide insight into problem areas and systems. Our team has experience with ventilation systems meant to improve IAQ. We can help you decipher your air quality index. If such a system is recommended, there are two types to choose from: energy recovery ventilators and heat recovery ventilators.
Heat Recovery Ventilation
Heat recovery ventilation systems (HRVs) use the heat in your home’s stale air to heat the air it draws from outside. In this type of system, stale air and fresh air pass without mixing.
The most significant benefit of such a system is that the energy required to heat outside air is minimized, saving money on heating bills. Established brands and manufacturers boast of efficiency rates between 55% and 93% (55% to 75% is typical).
Energy Recovery Ventilation
Energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) go a step further than HRVs by impacting the humidity in both outgoing and incoming air sources. That means your house will retain its relative humidity levels year-round and maintain a comfortable indoor ambient humidity level.
By impacting temperature and humidity, ERVs reduce the energy used by air conditioning and dehumidifier units
Which is Right for You?
Which system to choose depends on several factors, including your home comfort preferences and the environment or geography in which your home rests.
A home with high winter humidity will benefit from an HRV, which will eliminate some of that humidity. If your home is too dry in the winter, an ERV will help retain humidity. Overall, an ERV is likely a better choice in hot, dry climates, although an HRV paired with a dehumidifier is yet another option.
Ultimately, having one or the other is better than neither and ensures the air you breathe is clean and healthy. And having the guidance from our team who know the ins and outs of our climate and its nuances, is the best bet of all. Our team has installed countless ERVs and HRVs in custom-built and renovated homes throughout the region. We can help you make this seemingly confusing decision much more manageable.
For more information, call us or click here to schedule your complimentary, no-obligation consultation.