HVAC stands for “Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning,” and for some reason, the “ventilation” part has fallen out of favor. But, as indoor air quality becomes more and more of a concern for people, we’re here to tell you that the “V” is more important than you may think.
In this article, we’ll talk about ventilation instead of air purifiers and how it fits in with insulating your home — the opposite of letting air pass through.
Then, we’ll talk about some ways to improve the airflow in your home to get more fresh air.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions or want to build a strategy to improve the indoor air quality in your Fox River Valley home, call or email us any time!
The best way to improve air quality in your home is to bring in the fresh air — which is what ventilation will do. A constant stream of air coming in from outside sweeps out all sorts of pollutants that otherwise build up in your home.
That’s why, according to the EPA, outside air is often cleaner than the air inside your home. It’s always whisking away tiny particles and diluting them.
We hear a lot about air purifiers today, and there are some great ones out there on the market right now. In particular, we install plenty of AirScrubbers with AprilAire filters.
These setups hook directly up to your forced-air HVAC system to keep your home free from dust, dirt, pollen, pet dander, and even bacteria and viruses.
But, they’re not the magic bullet people seem to make them out as these days. That, in part, is why we published our Indoor Air Quality Food Pyramid a few months back.
With decades of experience in the HVAC industry and a record of installing what we talk about in our own home we speak with confidence:
Air purifiers are the icing on the cake. You want to get the air in your home as clean as possible before that. Then, use purification to get rid of the tiny stuff that comes in, no matter what.
We go into a lot of detail about the intersection of insulation and air circulation in this article. Bottom line is, we understand the need to keep your home insulated. It prevents drafts and keeps your energy bills down.
But, while having a home that’s sealed up tight may save you money, you’ll lose out on breathing easy. So, it’s important to strike a balance.
And, that’s what we’ll get into next.
There are plenty of ways to add ventilation to your home. We’re focusing on three that range from easy and inexpensive up to more of an investment:
When the weather’s warm (or cool) enough that you’re not using your heater or AC, making the most of the fresh air is easy. And, depending on your home’s setup, it’s also free.
All you have to do is keep your windows open and your ceiling fans running. And, if that sounds simple, well — it is!
Here’s the idea behind ventilation: Moving air from outside through the house. Of course, you need good screens in all your windows. Plus, ceiling fans and screen doors on your exterior doors.
Compared to other options, however, adding a screen door or a few extra ceiling is low-cost. And ceiling fans use very little electricity. Screen doors use none. So, after the upfront cost, you don’t have to pay any more.
Next, changing your air filter and getting heater and AC tune-ups help out a lot during the hottest and coldest times of the year.
For the months where you can’t leave your windows open, making sure your HVAC is running great will help circulate the air in your home without spreading dust, dirt, and debris.
Now, here’s an important note: Your system does not bring in any air from outside. Even central air with an outdoor condenser only moves air around the house without introducing “new” air.
However, you’ll still get some fresh air into the house every time you open a door. So, keeping your system in excellent shape means you’ll trap dust in the filters. That prevents it from spreading throughout the house.
And, the better your system works, the less you’ll pay on energy bills and the more robust circulation you’ll have.
The most expensive — and by far, the most effective — solution on this list is installing an energy recovery ventilator, or ERV. This device gives you the effect of keeping your windows open all year long while still running your heater or air conditioner.
The ERV pipes in fresh air from outside. It also gets rid of the air that’s been inside your home. So far, that’s about the same as what you’d get with open windows and fans.
But, here’s where it gets interesting: The ERV uses a heat transfer process to keep your climate control in the house.
In the summer, the air coming in gets cooled while the air going out ends up warmer than it was inside the house.
The opposite occurs in the winter: The cold air coming in gets heated by the warm air going out. The system does this using a heat transfer process.
We go into much more detail about it here and here. But, the long and short of it is that, yes, it works great. Most commercial buildings use these now since they’re otherwise sealed uptight. The ones we use are, of course, scaled for residential use.
Strong ventilation and an HVAC system that works well are two crucial parts of having a healthy home in Barrington, IL with great indoor air quality. And Compass Heating and Air is here to help you get that.
Call or email us any time for a free consultation. Or, reach out if you think there’s a problem with your HVAC system — or if it’s just time for a tune-up.