Self-builders are being encouraged to make their homes as airtight as possible to maximise energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of their property. This makes providing effective ventilation more important than ever. Here, Robert Dennis, Product Marketing Executive at Airflow Developments looks at some innovative ventilation solutions on the market that reduce moisture and excess heat in the home whilst maintaining a healthy internal environment.
An airtight property is an efficient property – it retains warm (and cooled) air more effectively, keeping energy bills down and minimising its day-to-day impact on the environment. However, a sealed building can be more susceptible to damp, mould and condensation, especially in areas such as kitchens and bathrooms where we generate high levels of heat and moisture through cooking and bathing. Without effective ventilation, this can cause leave unsightly and unpleasant marks on ceilings and walls – leading to time consuming and costly redecoration work.
Even more worrying is the negative effect poor indoor air quality can have on health. It’s a perturbing statistic that over 15.3 million homes in the UK are at risk of Toxic Home Syndrome. This is when a person’s health deteriorates as a result of poor air quality in the home caused by pollutants.
As such, when considering ventilation solutions, it is important to select not only high-performance products but also the most appropriate system for your requirements and specific areas in the home. Approved Document F of the Building Regulations sets out guidelines on the recommended volume of air extraction for common ‘wet’ rooms that typically drive ventilation requirements, namely:
• Toilets: 6 l/sec (22 m³/hr)
• Bathroom/shower rooms: 15 l/sec (54 m³/hr)
• Kitchens adjacent to hob: 30 l/sec (108 m³/hr)
• Kitchens without a cooker hood: 60 l/sec (216 m³/hr)
• Utility rooms: 30 l/sec (108 m³/hr).
A de-centralised mechanical extract ventilation (dMEV) system can be a useful addition in highly insulated properties as it provides a quiet and unobtrusive ventilation option.
For example, Airflow’s iCONstant unit incorporates an electronic flow sensor, which ensures that optimum performance is maintained and that user-adjustable air flow rates remain constant – the key to a healthy, balanced home. Extremely economical to operate, the annual running costs of the system when used on its lowest speed are as little as over £1 per year; less than the running costs of a low energy light bulb. In addition, the iCONstant features an intelligent control unit that minimises the length of the boost speed, ensuring that running costs for the fan are kept to a minimum.
Intermittent extractor fans are the most widely used ventilation option in bathrooms, kitchens or in rooms without a window. They can be turned on manually or automatically via humidity and motion sensors, as and when required.
For kitchen areas there is also Airflow’s QuietAir QT150. QuietMark approved, the unit is a highly energy-efficient axial fan with a long-life ball-bearing motor that provides 40,000 hours of operation. It is fitted with a room refresh interval timer that enables automatic extraction at pre-set times, and also benefits from an extremely low noise level (35 dB(A)) for a fan of this performance.
Effective ventilation is integral to maintaining a healthy home. As well as protecting the external fabric of the building by minimising damp and condensation, some systems have an inbuilt filtration system to clean the internal environment of odours and airborne allergens including dust, pollen and mould spores that can exacerbate hay fever and asthma.
When we take into account that we spend more than 90% of our time indoors and that the average adult requires 15,000 litres of clean air every day, today’s advanced ventilation solutions really are a breath of fresh air.