Thursday, January 19th, 2012 by Jacques Bouchard
In the building science industries of today, there is an ongoing and growing debate over two opposing philosophies: seal the home or ventilate it? As energy costs rise and more contractors recommend sealing the home to save energy, this is a debate that's not going to end any time soon.
The Case For Ventilating A Home
Ventilation is important because of its far-reaching effects. Roof ventilation allows moisture to dissipate rather than accumulate, avoiding problems such as mold and rot in rafters, roof sheathing and other framing members located in the attic. Vent fans in kitchens and bathrooms provide “active ventilation” that exhausts odors, excess moisture, smoke from cooking and stale air, all of which can contribute to indoor air pollution.
In older houses, a substantial amount of air leakage ensured a fairly constant supply of fresh air from outside, balancing the volume of interior air that leaked out of the house.
However, the development of tighter building technology that began in response to the oil embargo of 1973-’74 changed home ventilation in significant ways. Motivated by a sudden spike in oil and energy prices, builders constructed super insulated houses that were also super-tight. Not surprisingly, this early attempt at energy efficiency resulted in homes plagued by moisture and indoor air pollution problems.
Today our knowledge of building science allows us to actually measure building tightness (using a blower door) and install active ventilation systems (“energy-recovery ventilators,” “heat-recovery ventilators” and other devices) to ensure a healthy and controllable degree of ventilation. Yes, it is possible to “build it tight and ventilate right.” But the best way to ensure the optimum level of insulation, air sealing and ventilation is to enlist the expertise of a trained home energy analyst like the professionals at Dr. Energy Saver.
Finding A Happy Medium Between Insulation, Ventilation, And Air Sealing
Today, we know that some ventilation is needed in a home, but that the old way of letting the home vent “randomly” was simply too draining on the utilities. However, a marriage of these two techniques can be created with a controlled ventilation system. This kind of system limits unnecessary ventilation of the home, while facilitating forced-ventilation systems in often-damp areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Creating a proper balance between your home's energy efficiency and ventilation systems is best done through a professional consultation. If you're interested in our Syracuse insulation, air sealing, or other energy efficiency services, contact CNY insulation online or by phone today!