COVID-19 Puts the Spotlight on Ventilation

October 14, 2020 | Blog

Most Americans are spending more time than ever at home, with a higher concentration of people (and pets) in the home or the threat of a highly contagious virus HVAC systems aren’t designed for either this. It is rare for a home to have a well-designed and installed ventilation system, the “V” in HVAC. Online searches for solutions to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) are rising with customers seeking and willing to spend money on proven solutions.

Homes of all ages should add fresh air ventilation, it is a critical tool for improving indoor air quality (IAQ). Even though almost any improvements in IAQ come with added energy use, occupant health and safety are the top priorities. Therefore, promoting ventilation solutions through customer engagement, education, and programs creates a win-win opportunity for energy providers and their customers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised consumer awareness of the importance of air ventilation and filtration in homes and other enclosed spaces. Controlled ventilation with outside air has long been a critical tool in the home performance and high-performance construction toolboxes (ASHRAE Standard 62.2). It is now receiving increased interest as residents search for solutions to improve their homes’ indoor air quality. The World Health Organization and scientific consensus confirm that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is spread by tiny aerosol particles. Proper ventilation has the potential to dilute virus concentration indoors, just as it dilutes the concentration of other indoor pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), combustion byproducts, and moisture.

Many homeowners are looking for permanent solutions that will improve IAQ during this time and in the future, and many contractors are back to work. Solutions include ventilating dehumidifiers, heat/energy recovery ventilators (HRV and ERV), constant duty exhaust fans, and central fan integrated supply ventilation. A trained and certified professional can assist homeowners in making the right choice and properly installing the system.

For renters and those not ready to welcome workers into their homes, there are steps they can take to bring in the fresh air. Residents can still induce fresh air into their homes even though most homes do not have controlled ventilation systems. If bathroom and kitchen fans are ducted to outside, turn on these fans anytime someone is showering or cooking. Anytime people are home, draw air in from outside by turning on these fans. If possible, it is best to open a window to let in the air coming in from a known location (rather than the attic or crawlspace).

With families working and learning from home, proven IAQ solutions are top of mind. Now is the time to promote proper ventilation and filtration solutions, which will pay dividends for both the residents and utility for years to come.

About The Author

Sydney Roberts, Ph.D., Technology Director, Apogee Interactive, Inc.

Sydney G. Roberts, Ph.D. is the Technology Director at Apogee Interactive, the industry leader in utility customer engagement solutions. Dr. Roberts has created and launched successful energy efficiency and building performance research programs with utility, government/municipal, corporate, and academic partners, and is recognized as one of the country’s foremost leaders in building science and home performance. Sydney is passionate about empowering citizens, business owners, and utilities to make informed choices for their energy futures. Dr. Roberts is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Building Performance Association.

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