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The Importance of Good Home Ventilation During Winter

Opening windows to let fresh air in during winter is out of the question for most. Learn how mechanical ventilation can help during the colder months.
Last Updated on January 13, 2022

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Opening windows or doors for fresh air is a great way to filter out the stale, stuffy, polluted indoor air. However, during the colder winter months, opening windows and doors to breathe fresh air into your living space is impractical. Additionally, it can quickly create an uncomfortable and freezing cold home. That is why good home ventilation during winter is critical for homeowners.

Mechanical ventilation is a great alternative indoor air quality solution. Not only can it be used year-round, but it also works alongside your home’s HVAC system. Both ERV and HRV whole-home ventilation systems can be relied upon to ventilate homes, buildings and any indoor space during every season—including the cold winter months. The best system for your home will depend on your space’s specific ventilation needs.

Why Mechanical Ventilation Is Beneficial

With so many household expenses already, why should you bother spending money on a whole-home ventilation system? Dry stale air in your home is not only unpleasant, but it’s also unhealthy. While the air in your home might smell clean, that doesn’t mean it actually is. It’s impossible for the human nose to detect the multitude of contaminants circulating throughout an indoor space. Undetectable air pollutants poorly impact the health of occupants—worsening asthma and allergy symptoms and increasing the risk of more serious health concerns, illnesses and respiratory diseases.

Fresh Air Ventilation: From skin irritation to headaches to fatigue, are your symptoms related to poor indoor air circulation? Find out what stale indoor air really is and how it affects your health →

Recently, over the last few decades, air quality and building regulations for homes have changed. Surprisingly, older buildings constructed during a time of less regulation ensured that at least some fresh air seeped indoors through natural cracks in the home’s walls or foundation. Thanks to modern construction standards, albeit helpful in many other ways, homes have less natural airflow than before.

And that’s saying something considering older homes with draftier spaces still require increased incoming fresh air for healthier indoor air. According to the EPA, the need for ventilation in every space is clear. Whole-home ventilation systems can help remove unwanted indoor air pollutants and instead make sure that only clean crisp fresh air is circulating through the space.

What Is Mechanical Ventilation?

A mechanical ventilation whole-home or whole-building system works in tandem with the already existing HVAC system. Mechanical ventilation solutions push fresh air throughout the space by circulating air through ductwork with the help of the HVAC system fans. Many of us already have space-specific ventilation systems in our homes, like bathroom fans or the fan above stovetops to remove excess moisture and smoke. Whole-home systems use the same process for the same purposes but on a larger scale. 

System installation is relatively painless—it simply requires the addition of the ventilation product to the HVAC system and the ability to run ductwork to the outside. This is an incredibly low-maintenance yet high-return product because it’s efficiently providing fresher cleaner air as long as the system is running. There are two types of whole-home ventilation systems to consider for your space: heat recovery ventilation systems (HRVs) and energy recovery ventilation systems (ERVs).

Which Is Better for Ventilation During Winter?

Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems (HRV)

Heat recovery ventilation systems remove stale air from your home while bringing in fresh air from outside. The system does this by warming the air coming in from outside without having to generate its own heat. By recycling heat from the outgoing air and using it to warm the incoming air, HRV systems are incredibly energy-efficient. The stale air and fresh air never mix during the heat transfer process, ensuring that only the cleanest breathing air is in the living space. HRVs are able to reduce energy bills making them a smart investment both for the short-term and long-term.

Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems (ERV)

While HRV systems have many advantages, it is not always the ideal choice for every space. Homeowners that live in drier winter climates, in particular, are better off choosing an energy recovery ventilation system instead. ERV systems also remove stale air from your home while bringing in fresh air from the outside. And, they do so with a two-fan system in addition to a heat exchanger.

Additionally, ERV systems work to maintain good humidity levels in your home while also saving energy. This results in reducing the effort placed on air conditioning systems. During the cold and dry winter months, an ERV also transfers humidity. The humid air being pushed out is mixed with the new dry incoming air. During warm and humid summer months, humidity from the outside air is removed before it enters the home. If the humidity levels in your home are also a concern, then you should strongly consider an ERV system.

Indoor Air Quality Solutions

Many of us notice poor indoor air quality during the colder winter months. Sore throats in the morning and dry skin throughout the day are more noticeable. As a result, investing in a whole-home ventilation system is a great upgrade to better prepare for the winter weather and cold months. Contact us to get in touch with a local indoor air quality specialist. They can survey your home or building and determine if an HRV or ERV system is more beneficial to improve the air quality in your space.

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