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March 3, 2021
Not only are we all waiting out a pandemic here in Maine, but the snow, ice, and brief window of daylight are forcing us all to wait it out indoors! Does this have you thinking more about your home, and the systems you use to keep your family safe, comfortable, and healthy?
Those concerned about how all this time indoors might be affecting their health may also be wondering what role ventilation plays, or should play, in a home that is considered healthy. And the answer is, an extremely important one!
Your Home Is A Trap for Pollutants
In order to understand why ventilation is important, we need to also understand how and why a home may become unhealthy in the first place. Homes can be a source of contaminants that decrease your indoor air quality (IAQ). They include:
Volatile organic compounds from synthetic components of furnishings (furniture, carpets, curtains)
Carbon monoxide and other combustion gasses
Mold & mildew
Radon (from the basement)
Wood smoke (from wood-burning appliances)
Contaminants from the outside can make their way in, too, through open windows/doors, or through the small holes and gaps that are hidden throughout the attic, basement, and around doors and windows.
Outdoor pollutants come from a variety of sources, like:
Car & industrial air pollution
Once these contaminants enter the air in your home, the air intake of your heating and cooling system will recirculate them over and over again unless they are actively removed. This makes them much more likely to affect the health of you and your loved ones.
Poor Ventilation & Your Health
Indoor air that remains contaminated can create the symptoms of seasonal illnesses, such as:
Dry and itchy eyes
Poor IAQ can also be concerning for those with respiratory illnesses or sensitivities, like asthma, as it is likely to exacerbate these conditions.
Cleaning The Air
The first thing to do when trying to improve your IAQ is to seal up your home and properly insulate it, so that you can control how many contaminants are coming in. An energy audit from Evergreen Home Performance will uncover all of the areas in need of sealing and insulating. You may also want to encapsulate your basement or crawlspace to ensure that no excess moisture is infiltrating into your home creating mold-growth conditions.
The air filter associated with your heating and cooling system can capture some of the contaminants that enter your breathing air, but as filters clog, they become more taxing for your furnace or air conditioner. For many Maine homes, especially homes that don’t utilize central ductwork for their heating and cooling, added ventilation and filtration may be required.
Many homes already have enough ventilation, like bathroom fans, laundry fans, and oven range hood fans. However, these fans must exhaust to the outdoors if they are to provide any benefit to the quality of your air. Unfortunately, many of these fans dump their air into the attic, only to re-circulate again.
Whole Home Ventilation
Depending on your needs and the medical sensitivities of your family members, whole-home ventilation can offer the maximum benefits of ventilation, all year long. Whole-home ventilation systems like ERVs (energy recovery ventilators) and HRVs (heat recovery ventilators) exchange the stale indoor air for fresher outdoor air, removing contaminants from your indoor space. And some of these whole-home ventilators can even pre-condition the air for your heating and cooling system, leading to a reduction in wear and tear!
Experience the Benefits of Proper Ventilation
Sure, ventilation is essential to living in a healthy home. However, there are many other benefits you can experience when you upgrade your ventilation system, insulate, and air seal your home, such as:
Stable indoor temperatures throughout the home
Ideal humidity levels all year
Reduced indoor odors
Reduced energy use and costs
If you are looking to increase the IAQ of your home here in Southern and Mid Coast Maine, schedule an energy audit with the team at Evergreen Home Performance. We can put together a plan to get your home (and your family) back to health! We’ll also explain to you how Maine Efficiency Maine rebate and financing programs help make your project affordable.