What You Should Know About Open Windows & IAQ
If you wanted some fresh air inside your home, what step would you take first? If you’re like many homeowners in the Nashville area, you would probably open your windows. But is this really the best way to improve your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ), or could it be introducing more allergens and pollutants into your home?
At E3 INNOVATE, we understand that achieving a healthy and efficient home can be a tricky balance. Here’s a brief look at how open windows can affect your indoor air quality—and what else you can do to improve your IAQ.
How Open Windows Can Affect Indoor Air Quality
According to the EPA, indoor air can contain two to five times more contaminants than outdoor air. It seems reasonable, then, to assume that opening your windows will improve your indoor air quality, right?
Well, yes and no. Nashville enjoys a relatively temperate climate, so it can be appropriate to open your windows at times of the year when heating and cooling equipment isn’t running. However, this should not be your sole solution for improving your home’s IAQ. Outside air still contains pollutants which can harm you and your family. Plus, you rely on your HVAC system for much of the year to stay comfortable. At these times, opening your windows will waste energy and force your HVAC system to work harder. Using the windows will also bring in unwanted humidity in the summer and very dry air in the winter that many HVAC systems can’t manage well.
How You Can to Improve Your IAQ
For healthy IAQ year-round, it’s important to keep indoor air clean with proven solutions like air sealing, mechanical ventilation, and dehumidification.
Seal air leaks
Many substances, such as pollen, radon, and excess moisture, enter our homes via air leaks leading into the home. Air sealing with spray foam can keep these IAQ-harming substances from seeping into the home in the first place.
Air leaks are often hidden from view in areas such as the attic and crawlspace, so it’s best to have a professional use thermal imaging to pinpoint the air leaks in your home.
Ensure proper ventilation
It isn’t enough just to keep out harmful substances; you also need to give indoor pollutants like humidity, odors, VOCs, and dust a controlled path out of the house. This is especially important if you already have a tightly sealed home.
That’s where mechanical ventilation comes in. Mechanical ventilation vents stale and stuffy air out of the home and replaces it with fresh air from the outdoors. Bathroom and stove exhaust fans offer some targeted ventilation, but for optimum home health, you need an energy recovery ventilator (ERV). An ERV provides fresh outside air while reducing the load on your HVAC, helping to maintaining a consistent indoor temperatures.
Tennessee is notoriously humid, and that means moisture has a tendency to collect inside homes. When this excess moisture doesn’t find its way out of the home, it can lead to mold growth, buckling hardwood, rotting building materials, and more.
A whole house dehumidifier keeps indoor humidity levels at a safe and comfortable level so moisture doesn’t harm your home’s IAQ.