Energy audits can improve IAQ

Energy audits can improve IAQ

Photo courtesy of Zehnder America

Does your air conditioner kick into high gear in the summer? Is all that cool air staying inside or is it leaking out and pulling hot outdoor air in? A summer home energy audit is an excellent way to stay comfortable and identify issues with home energy efficiency.

An energy audit is also an opportunity to boost indoor air quality, since home energy performance and home air health are closely linked. Here are some common single- and multifamily home performance issues, the impact on indoor air quality and solutions for healthier indoor air, according to Zehnder America.

Addressing air leaks

A major component of an energy audit is determining the amount of air leakage in a home and locating specific areas of concern. In most homes across the country, hot air from the attic makes its way in and cool, conditioned air is pushed out through the basement or crawlspace.

These air leaks not only cause problems with discomfort (since the home will be hotter), but they also affect energy efficiency and indoor air quality. As hot air from the attic enters, the air conditioner will work overtime trying to keep you cool, resulting in high energy bills. In addition, humidity and contaminants freely enter, which can have an impact on your health. Once air leaks are located and solved, not only will the home’s energy efficiency and comfort increase, but its indoor air quality will also be ready for improvements.

Are your vent fans working properly?

Particles from cooking, fumes from cleaning supplies and excess moisture from showers can build up and negatively affect the home’s indoor air quality. If the  range hood and exhaust fans aren’t working optimally, contaminants stay trapped inside.

An energy audit can help uncover whether or not these systems are working effectively. For example, some exhaust fans vent air into the attic instead of to the outside, degrading indoor air quality in other parts of the home, and adding potentially mold growing moisture to the attic space. Other exhaust fans are not sized to extract the proper quantity of air, allowing contaminants to be left behind. While some exhaust fans have ducting issues that prevent air from effectively being extracted.

How oversized air conditioners create humidity issues

Many air conditioners are oversized. Although this might not sound like a problem, it can cause energy bills to skyrocket and harm indoor air quality. Oversized units don’t need to run very long to cool the home, but they do not run long enough to control home moisture levels, especially in a moist climate.

An energy audit will discover or not the AC is properly sized. An auditor can provide solutions for increasing energy efficiency, comfort and indoor air quality with a system that is properly sized.

Topics: Architectural Firms, Automation and Controls, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, HVAC - Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Interiors, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Urban Planning and Design, Ventilation

Companies: Zehnder America

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