Winter is almost here and there is no better time to talk about our homes ventilation systems. The cold is fast approaching and I thought I’d touch on two vital air movement systems in our homes to prepare for it. I plan on going over the homes air to air exchanger as well as the homes furnace with hopes you can use both with confidence and give you the assurance of a more energy efficient system.
Your furnace is the heart of your home. It is the way to supply heat as well as deliver more comfortable air to the interior of the home. The single most important thing we can all do with our furnaces is change air filters frequently. I don’t recommend buying expensive filters rather just changing them more often. Expensive filters only make the furnace work harder to move the air. I always recommend to my customers leaving the furnace fan on throughout the entire year. It has been proven that running the fan constantly uses the equivalent energy as 2 light bulbs, but it greatly reduces the amount of gas consumed by the furnace. This will cut down on your energy costs. Regardless if it is winter, spring, summer, or fall this holds true.
Air flow on the furnace creates a more balanced home when it comes to the temperature which in turn leads to lower humidity. Humidity is caused by temperature differences as well as pressure differences. If we can eliminate both, we are well on our way to a more comfortable home. In a home with a 2 zone system, you are able to change the dampers on the furnace to control the amount of air flow to a certain area. While auto systems are nice, manual systems offer similar results and are much more cost effective to install. With warm air rising in a home, I recommend pushing more of the air flow to the lower of the 2 zones on the furnace come winter. I simply reverse this in the spring when we get ready for the air conditioning to take over. Air movement that is controlled by zones allows us to create a much dryer and more evenly heated home.
There are two types of overall heating systems that can be installed in a home. A Balanced(air to air exchange system) and a Forced Air heating system. The balance system is what I recommend and what is typically installed in my new homes. The air exchanger is a mechanical way to replace dirty air in your home. They should only be run more often in the winter months as we close windows and stay in doors more often. What they do is pull cold air from outside and push the warm, moist, dirty air from the inside of the home. As these two things are happening they cross paths in the air exchanger and the warmth of the air leaving is extracted and added to the cold air coming in. This is what makes them a more efficient way to replace the air leaving the home. Forced air heating systems are still commonly put in by builders today for the cost savings, but only rely on the fresh air intake pipe in the basement to replace the air needed. If it is 30 degrees below zero outside, that same temperature of air is entering into the home. The only time an air exchanger should be run in the summer is when taking a shower, bath, or doing laundry. Even then, the buttons you press in these locations will only turn on the system for about 15 minutes. Keep the name as simple as it is. Air exchanger simply exchanges air. We want and need to do this more in the winter when we have a dirty air environment, but don’t want this to happen in the summer when we have paid top dollar to cool and condition the air. We would not want to exchange this expensive air for the humid hot air outside during summer. It has been proven that exchangers cut down on sickness too. They where designed for efficiencies and have delivered this second benefit to us as well!
Air exchangers do require some maintenance, however. Typically they have 2 filters in them to prevent dust from getting into the core of the air exchanger. They need to be cleaned monthly and should be done as a habit when you change your furnace filter. If you simply vacuum or tap out the dust in the filters, they will give you years of worry free use.
Whether you are a past customer or a possibly looking to build a new home, I’d be more than happy to walk through this in person to further elaborate on both of these vital systems in a home. As always I’m looking for ways to cut down on energy consumption, while bringing the most comfortable environment to a home possible.