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Best practices for designing an energy-efficient residential ventilation system

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Best practices for designing an energy-efficient residential ventilation system

By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Jan 08, 2024

The need to reduce carbon emissions is becoming more urgent. This has led to the integration of energy-efficient residential ventilation systems in residential buildings.

Residential ventilation design requires optimising energy efficiency, both to meet legislative requirements and to make cost savings.

This article provides a guide to the best practices for designing residential ventilation systems that not only enhance air quality but also contribute to energy conservation.

Why energy efficiency matters 

The core of any residential ventilation system lies in its ability to maintain optimal indoor air quality while minimising energy consumption. Understanding why energy efficiency matters is essential in the creation of sustainable living spaces.

Efficient ventilation systems ensure that fresh air circulates through the home without unnecessary energy expenditure. This not only promotes a healthier living environment but also reduces the strain on energy resources. By minimising energy consumption, these systems contribute to a lower carbon footprint, supporting global efforts to combat climate change.

Understanding the importance of energy-efficient ventilation extends beyond the immediate benefits to homeowners. The broader impact on the environment and the long-term sustainability of residential buildings promote a greener and more sustainable future.

How can we reduce energy consumption through residential ventilation design? 

Reducing energy consumption in residential ventilation design requires a strategic approach. State-of-the-art systems that prioritise energy efficiency without compromising on performance should be a core aspect of both new building design and the redesign of older buildings

The best practices for energy-efficient building design include:

Smart technology 

One key strategy is including the use of advanced technologies, such as smart ventilation controls in the design. These smart systems can adjust ventilation based on real-time air quality and occupancy, ensuring that energy is only expended when necessary. 

Component planning 

Optimising the design to create a comfortable and energy-efficient indoor environment requires careful consideration of the system components. Residential ventilation requirements should be considered at the beginning of the project to ensure that the building is as eco-friendly as possible. 

Along with choosing the right type of ventilation system for the property, considering the ductwork is key to achieving maximum energy efficiency.

Locating ductwork in the best position to cope with the requirements of the building includes:

  • Consideration of the length of the ducts – the longer they are the more powerful the fan will need to be to maintain the airflow. 
  • Shape – straight ducts are more energy efficient as bends require more power and increase the resistance within the system.
  • Placement - locating ventilation intake and exhaust points strategically enhances the system's effectiveness.
  • Sizing – in terms of the volume of air it carries efficiently and where it will be located (behind a suspended ceiling or on view).
  • Quality sealing to avoid air loss.

The planning that goes into residential ventilation design not only supports energy efficiency but also assists the calculation of the ROI when planning an investment in mechanical ventilation.

Combining with natural ventilation 

Residential ventilation systems can be combined with the use of windows and skylights, ultimately leading to a reduction in the overall energy load.

At the initial design stage, the correct placement of windows facilitates the inflow of fresh air while promoting the expulsion of stale air. Additionally, windows enable passive cooling during mild weather, diminishing the reliance on mechanical ventilation and further optimising energy consumption.

As for skylights, these play a crucial role in enhancing natural ventilation. By harnessing the stack effect - where warm air rises and exits through higher openings - skylights are integral components in promoting air circulation. 

To achieve maximum efficiency, architects should consider factors such as prevailing wind direction, building orientation, and local climate patterns when combining windows and skylights into the residential ventilation system. Strategic placement ensures optimal airflow and minimises the risk of unwanted drafts while reducing energy consumption.

The synergy between natural and mechanical ventilation systems should be carefully planned. Smart technology can synchronise the air flow ensuring a seamless transition between natural and mechanical ventilation based on real-time conditions. 

Implement zoning systems 

Zoning systems consider factors such as room usage, occupancy patterns and the overall layout of the home. Mechanical ventilation is instrumental in this process, offering a reliable and controllable system to ensure optimal air quality in each designated space.

The importance of mechanical ventilation within zoning systems lies in its ability to adapt to varying demands. In unoccupied areas, residential mechanical ventilation can be intelligently regulated to operate at lower capacity  conserving energy without compromising the overall effectiveness of the ventilation system. 

This control is particularly beneficial in larger homes or buildings with fluctuating occupancy, preventing unnecessary energy expenditure in spaces that don’t require constant ventilation.


By adhering to the best practices architects and designers can create living spaces that prioritise air quality, energy conservation, and sustainability. Through careful choices in components, technology and location, energy-efficient residential ventilation systems are core in the construction of eco-friendly homes.



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