Category: Air Quality
With a global pandemic going on, there has been a lot of talk about indoor air quality and ways to mitigate viruses. One strategy that has been almost universally accepted as an effective tool is bringing fresh air into the home. But what is a good fresh air strategy to bring that air into your home? In this blog we are going to look at the pros and cons of some of the more popular solutions out there allowing you to make a decision on what fresh air strategy is best for your specific application. As with all our recommendations, all local and national codes must be adhered to. If you are not sure what codes pertain to your location, consult a professional HVAC expert.
Strategy 1 – Open windows and doors
Pros – No cost solution, nothing to install, any home can do it – sort of.
Cons – No control over air coming into the home, not great for climates that have extreme temperatures (hot or cold)
While opening windows and doors is very easy to do, it does have its limitations. The first and biggest one is if you live in a climate that has hot or cold days, you might not want to open that window or door. Think North Dakota in February or Texas in August. A second issue is, you have no way of truly knowing how much air is actually coming into the home. If it is a breezy day and you can feel the rush of air coming in, you are probably doing very well. If there isn’t a breeze and you can’t feel any air coming in, you are probably getting some fresh air in, but is it enough? We would list this solution under the “Better than nothing” category, especially since there are much better solutions.
Strategy 2 – Window Fan
Pros – Lower cost solution that can easily be added by a homeowner.
Cons – Not great for climates that have extreme temperatures (hot or cold)
Window fans will be more effective that just opening windows and doors but they still have their limitations. As with opening windows and doors, a window fan will have even more limitations when it comes to hot or cold climates. A window fan is going to bring a rush of air into the home. If it is the right temperature, this can be extremely effective. If it is not, it will quickly make the living area of the home uncomfortable. With a window fan you will have more control and be able to have a better idea of how much air is coming into the home. Almost all fans have multiple speed settings. Generally a window fan is going to be a solution for older homes and in areas where the code does not call for a mechanical fresh air system. To learn more about Air King’s window fans click here. We would list this solution under the “Can be effective in the right circumstance” category with a check mark in the “Better than nothing” category.
Strategy 3 – Mechanical Ventilation
Pros – Controlled solution that meets almost all the building codes across the US.
Cons – Higher initial cost, requires installation.
A mechanical solution is a dedicated fan that brings fresh air into the home. Most solutions either have an air filter installed in the unit or one can be added. This allows the air coming into the home to be filtered, which can be a big deal if you live in an area of the country where pollution is an issue. The air intake is set at a rate to match the requirements of the home, so you are in total control of how much air is coming into the home. This is important from an energy standpoint. With opening windows or using a window fan you are almost forced to turn off the heat or air conditioning. With a mechanical fresh air intake it can work in conjunction with those systems. Many units also include temperature and humidity monitors that will shut the unit off if the outdoor air is too hot, cold or humid. To learn more about Air King’s Fresh Air Intake products – click here. We would list under the “Really good” category.
Strategy 4 – ERV / HRV
Pros – Controlled solution that meets almost all the building codes across the US, lessens the energy strain on the HVAC system.
Cons – High initial cost, generally needs to be installed by an HVAC professional.
An ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator) or HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) can be classified as a mechanical solution and provide all the benefits of what was discussed above. The difference is ERVs or HRVs are going to provide energy savings. How these units work is they bring fresh air into the home while exhausting the stale “bad” air out of the home. You will hear it referred to in some case as balanced ventilation. The big benefit of an ERV or HRV is that it tempers the air coming into the home. The cool air (or hot air) coming in from outside, passes through a core where the warm air (or cool air) inside the home “tempers” it. This is a huge benefit to the HVAC system and your energy costs. As with other mechanical solutions, ERVs and HRVs generally have controls that allow you to monitor the amount of air coming in and going out as well as the temperature and humidity of the air. We would list this solution under the “Best” category. Being able to control temperature, humidity, and airflow with the added benefit of lessening the impact on the HVAC system makes it top the list, even with the higher initial cost. To learn more about Air King ERV and HRV solutions – click here.
Having a fresh air strategy for your home is an important step towards increasing your indoor air quality. A good strategy will have lasting benefits even when there isn’t a pandemic going on. For more information visit the Fresh Air section of this site as well as our other blog posts on related subjects.