New, modern homes are designed to be all the things their predecessors were not: energy-efficient, draft-free, and evenly cooled or heated, depending on the season. And while all of these upgrades make these homes desirable, they can also have an unintended effect as well: air – and all the pollutants and contaminants in it – stays trapped within the home. And, as the EPA reported, indoor air can be anywhere from 2 to 100 times more polluted than the air outside. So how can you improve your home’s ventilation?
The term ventilation refers to the exchange of indoor and outdoor air. According to the EPA, “without proper ventilation, an otherwise insulated and airtight house will seal in harmful pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, and moisture that can damage a house.” If you’ve got a stove or fireplace, gases from these appliances can build up to hazardous levels in a poorly ventilated home.
This also is true for excess moisture and humidity. Whether you live in an area prone to high humidity (coastal areas) or recently dealt with a water leak from rain or a busted pipe, this excess moisture can precipitate the growth of mold and mildew, the presence of which can wreak havoc on anyone with allergies or breathing difficulties. Elevated levels of humidity can also make your cooling equipment work harder, which can lead to higher energy costs. It may be necessary to not only stop the mold and mildew at the source, but also pair that with the use of a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the area, and then follow-up with a high-powered air purification unit to eliminate odors.
So what are some things that can help cycle this trapped air outside of your home and improve your ventilation?
- Use exhaust fans. These are especially helpful in areas like bathrooms where humidity levels are likely to be higher than in other areas of your home. The range hood over your stove and your dryer vent (which should both be vented to outside areas if possible and not into the attic) also help reduce odors and particles that might otherwise enter your home’s air supply.
- During times when doors and windows are closed, try using a high quality air purifier like the Beyond Guardian Air to clean the existing air in your home. It can make a huge difference when it comes to reducing odors and removing particulate from the air.
- Try natural ventilation. Consider opening a window for a few minutes a day! (Take into account your city’s pollen counts and air index for that day, and turn off air purifying units while you allow fresh air to blow in.)
- Whole-house ventilation entails using one or more fans and duct systems to exhaust stale air and/or supply fresh air into the house, which provides controlled, uniform ventilation throughout the home.
- Stop air leaks. The EPA notes that “home moisture issues often directly relate to uncontrolled air flow where warm, moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces, causing condensation. Seal all air-leakage paths between living spaces and other unconditioned parts of the house, such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces,” as insulation alone cannot prevent moisture problems.