white kitchen with plants and big bright windows

Going green with natural ventilation in your home

LIVE healthier | 5 MIN READ | 2019-10-24

Asthma affects over 3.8 million Canadians and 25 million Americans, and living conditions play a big role in our respiratory health. Sometimes, something as simple as improving air circulation in the home can make a huge difference. While there are plenty of methods that use technology to ventilate a home, it’s also possible to renovate for improved air quality naturally.

Why is air circulation so important? 

white bedroom with big window and plants on the windowsill

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

With the growing push toward energy conservation over the last few decades, more and more homes are being built to be super-insulated, or more resistant to outside air infiltration. Though this shields our homes from the elements, they can still use a good amount of fresh air. Basically, to maintain good air quality indoors, fresh outdoor air needs to come in, and dirty air needs to go out.

Indoor air can build up high levels of dust, odours and other pollutants. While plants can clean the air and help control humidity naturally, so can knowing how to circulate the air properly. 

According to some experts, humidity levels should be kept lower than 50 percent to prevent mold growth and certain respiratory issues. Using a dehumidifier or well-maintained heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can also keep mold growth at bay, as well as prevent moisture damage like wood rot. But you can also achieve this by harnessing nature with natural ventilation.

What is natural ventilation?

bright dining room with brick wall and sliding glass doors

Photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels

Natural ventilation cools spaces without using mechanical energy. Before electricity, buildings were intentionally designed to make the most of natural light and ventilation. Windows, doorways and chimneys had to be strategically located to circulate fresh air and maintain a comfortable temperature. These traditional techniques are still being used by architects who are conscious about using less energy.

Buildings designed with the environment in mind naturally stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The designer makes use of the “chimney effect” or “stack effect” to effectively circulate air so that homes don’t have to rely on air conditioners and fans. The chimney effect takes into account how hot air rises and cold air sinks, and works best in climates with regular breezes and cool nights.

For example, intake vents are typically placed close to the ground because cold air flows close to the ground. Air outlets, on the other hand, should be placed on or near the ceiling, because as air warms up, it rises. Ensuring there’s space between furniture can also promote natural ventilation, and keeping doors between rooms open to encourage air to move naturally through your home also helps.

How does natural ventilation work during the winter?

a snow covered street with cars and houses

While it’s easy to understand how natural ventilation can help cool a home, keeping it warm during the winter is another thing. Recent innovations in natural ventilation make use of systems that mix cold fresh air and warm room air before letting air enter the home, effectively halving heating bills. 

Minto Communities designs and builds homes with LEED Certifications and Net Zero Energy innovations always top of mind. Features like passive heat, air-source heat pumps, and using environmental preferred products ensures that new homes are good for people and the planet. These features also ensure that your home will stay warm for less energy and money, even during the winter.

Landscaping can also play a part in natural ventilation. A strategically placed fence or hedge, for instance, can block wind and help keep a home warmer during the winter.

Fostering air circulation in your home won’t just keep your family healthy, but can also lower your energy bill significantly. Natural ventilation is all about working with the environment – not against it. By keeping this principle in mind, you could reduce the amount of energy you need to keep your home comfortable, no matter the weather.