Striking a Balance between Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality
There are generally two trains of thought when we consider our indoor climates - air quality and energy efficiency. Both are important, but balance is needed. With new homes built seemly airtight, allowing for max efficiency, the trade off becomes air quality. The more sealed a home, the more indoor pollutants can get trapped inside. By running ventilation homeowners can fix that problem, but at the expense of efficiency. So what is the perfect balance?
The ventilation rate of a building is defined as the rate at which external air flows inside. This is very important in controlling the indoor air quality. This rate determines how outdoor pollutants can enter the building, but also how indoor pollutants can exit the building. Ventilation is important to reduce the transmission of airborne viruses and bacteria. Airtight buildings can be an environment for "sick building syndrome" which causes characterized cases of headache, eye, nasal or skin irritation, malaise or mental fog. Ventilation guidelines recommend that CO2 levels stay below 1000 ppm.
To manage these issues, a well maintained HVAC and ventilation system will see a 1%-2% decrease in energy efficiency compared to an environment with no ventilation. There are instances in which ventilation can promote energy efficiency - either natural or mechanical, could be used in the warm seasons for thermal storage/night cooling purposes in which high ventilation rates at night would remove heat from the building envelope that has been stored during the day, so that in the following day the building envelope would absorb heat from the internal air to provide passive cooling.
Finding a balance between energy efficiency and indoor air quality isn't impossible given the aforementioned solutions and new solutions that may arise with further research involving, among others, architects, engineers, material scientists, and atmospheric scientists.
At 4 Seasons Heating, Cooling & Electrical, we are heating, cooling and clean air specialists. Based on your home's construction, we can help you find the perfect balance between energy consumption and indoor air quality. Give us a call at (204) 953-5700 to book a call today!