Energy Efficient Way to Better Indoor Air Quality

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Good Air Quality Reduces Allergies

According to the EPA, indoor air quality inside a home is typically 5 times worse than outdoor air quality. New technologies have been developed for indoor air exchangers (sometimes called heat recovery ventilators or energy recovery ventilators), which can give you all the benefits of having open windows, but without losing all of the energy.

We’ve all heard about the problems of air pollution in the environment, but most people are shocked to find out that the air quality in their own homes is actually a much greater problem. There are a number of reasons why the air quality in your home is so much worse than outside air:

  • VOC (volatile organic chemicals) being released from carpets and furniture.
  • fumes from household cleaners and paints.
  • mold from damp bathrooms and basements.
  • naturally occurring radon gas which seeps up through the foundation floors.
  • fumes from cooking and smoking.
  • pet dander.

To improve the quality of air in your home, you can open your windows. But of course, in the wintertime, you will not want to do this. And in the summertime, you will not want to open your windows when you are running your air conditioner.

This is where an indoor air exchanger can be so helpful. By bringing in fresh outdoor air while capturing up to 80%

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Air Exchanger

of the potential heat loss, these units can significantly improve your indoor air quality in an energy efficient manner. And models which are energy recovery ventilators can actually transfer the humidity between the air streams, keeping the humidity in your house when you need it in the winter, and keeping humidity out in the summertime when you don’t want it.

You can see examples of various models of indoor air exchangers online on Amazon.com: indoor air exchangers.

As you will see, the prices for the units can range from about $350 to $1,400, depending on the style, capacity, features, etc. And then you will need to add the costs of the installation. Further, in addition to the initial cost of installing the unit, there are also the operating costs for electricity and routine maintenance. Electricity costs will vary according to the size of the unit you get and your local electric rates. For some models, the energy use can be as low as about 60 watts (about the same as an average light bulb), but of course, you can be saving 900 watts of heat that would have been lost through an open window.

Some models of air exchangers can be mounted in a window or wall opening, much like a room air conditioner is installed. These are designed to handle the ventilation for an individual room, such as a kitchen, living room, work studio, etc. Larger units are designed for the whole house and provide fresh air to all the rooms of your home. These larger units are easier to install if you have central heating or air conditioning ductwork to which the units can be connected.

Your choice of air exchanger will depend on factors such as:

  • the volume of air exchange you need for your home.
  • the configuration of your home’s ductwork.
  • the humidity of the region of the country where you live.
  • how tight the construction is of your home.

HOW THEY WORK

As shown in the diagram here, the way an indoor air exchanger works is that the air ducts for the intake air are intertwined with the air duct for the outflow air in the mixing chamber. As a result, the air flows do not mix, but the heat (or cooling in the summer) from the two air flows are exchanged. As a result, fresh air from the outside can come in without losing all of the heat (or cooling) from the inside air, thereby saving up to 80% of the energy.

The key elements of a typical air exchanger include:

Air Ports

: From one port, fresh air is drawn from the outside, and from the other port, indoor air is ducted and expelled out.

Exchanger:

The exchanger is a chamber where the separate air channels mix while separated from each other by highly conductive metal, which allows efficient heat transfer between the two air streams.

Filter:

A material made of foam, metal, etc. which removes dust and dirt particles from the outside air intake.

Damper:

A flat blade inside the air exchanger, which controls the amount of airflow.

Ductwork:

Channels in your house where the air flows through.

Drain pan:

A reservoir here water condensation is collected.

Condensate pump:

If the air exchanger is located in a basement below grade, then it will need a pump to eject the water condensate.

WHAT CAN TYPICALLY GO WRONG:

Most of the problems with an air exchanger can be related to humidity. If you do not have the right size or type of unit for your particular home and weather environment, you can find problems such as:

  • The air exchanger will not turn on often enough, because it is limited by the humidity of the outside air.
  • The unit is undersized for the volume of air in your home.

Other typical problems are poor unit efficiency and motor failure, which can be a result of not doing the proper routine maintenance.

ROUTINE MAINTENANCE:

Routine maintenance for an air exchanger will, of course, depend on the specific model that you have. But typical maintenance tasks for an air exchanger will include washing or replacing the filters on a regular basis, cleaning the exchanger chamber, and ensuring that the vents are clear and operating properly.

SUMMARY

If you are buying or selling a home, Home Detective can help you determine the air quality for peace of mind.  If you need a solution, indoor air exchangers are a great innovation for improving the quality of air in your home for you and your family, on an energy efficient basis. However, you will want to carefully choose which model is appropriate for your particular home situation, and if you already have one, you will want to do the proper routine maintenance for it.

Home Detective is certified by over 4 leading trade organizations as a home inspection expert, with rigorous knowledge and experience requirements that a jack of all trades can’t possibly offer, such as the Midwest Association of Home Inspectors (MAHI)American Home Inspection Training (AHIT)American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).

These certifications along with years of experience will ensure you have peace of mind after you purchase your home.  In addition to our credentials, Home Detective offers a Free 90 Day Warranty for all the home inspections we do with the option for an 18 month extended warranty.

To schedule your home inspection today or for more information, contact Reed at (763) 434-3155. Home Inspector Rogers | Pre-listing Home Inspection Rogers | Home Inspection Rogers | Home Inspection for Sellers Rogers | Home Inspection for Sellers Brainerd | Home Inspection Brainerd | Certified Home Inspector Rogers | Certified Home Inspector Brainerd | Buyers Home Inspection Rogers | Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd

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