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Don’t Overlook Proper Ventilation
Making your home more airtight with new windows, insulation or a finished basement can actually hurt your energy efficiency if you don’t also ventilate properly.
How Ventilation Used to Work
Until very recently, homes were built to breathe. Insulation was seldom used, windows were single-pane and drafts were just part of life. Home heating systems had no problem finding oxygen for combustion, attics were naturally ventilated and fresh outdoor air always found its way in somehow.
Solve One Problem, Create Another
Today, in the age of double-paned windows, whole-house insulation and vapor barriers, we’re also seeing moisture problems that lead to mold problems and poor indoor air quality. It only makes sense that if you seal the house and don’t circulate the air, the humidity and gases that once flowed freely in and out are now trapped inside. And they wreak havoc on the home’s structure, not to mention its inhabitants.
Consult your HVAC contractor to see if your home needs mechanical ventilation. A fan can provide outdoor combustion air for your furnace. Good combustion helps it operate more cleanly and efficiently and keeps it from depressurizing your house. An air-to-air heat exchanger brings fresh air into circulation in your heating and air conditioning ducts. It preconditions the air before sending it in, so you’re not decreasing your system’s efficiency with cold air.