Our recent series of blog articles focussed heavily on the regulations regarding indoor air quality in new build homes. We have drawn your attention to your obligations and requirements as a house builder, helping you to ensure that your buildings are compliant with applicable legislation. However, your duty of care towards the buyer of the property does not end there.
Your commitment to your customer’s health and the health of the environment for future generations is not limited to environmentally friendly building design and the installation of an adequate ventilation system. That said, once the keys to a property have been handed over, it is up to the new homeowner to do their part to maintain ventilation systems, adopt healthy maintenance practices, and ensure continued compliance with indoor air quality standards.
To this end, in this article we offer five tips that can be passed on to customers to help them achieve and maintain fresh and pathogen-free air in their new homes.
In a living space lacking a mechanical ventilation system, the addition of one can significantly enhance indoor air quality and elevate overall comfort levels. Opting for a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery (MVHR) brings several additional advantages to any home. MVHR not only replaces stale air with heated fresh air but also contributes to the removal of pathogens, allergens, and pollutants from the indoor environment. Furthermore, MVHR systems can help offset heating costs by recovering energy from outgoing air, making them an energy-efficient choice.
While retrofitting a comprehensive MVHR system can entail extensive and costly renovations, there are alternative options to consider. For those with budget constraints, a Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) system represents a viable whole-house ventilation solution. Alternatively, homeowners should prioritize the installation of mechanical extract systems in kitchens and bathrooms. Here you can find more information on the best way to ventilate a room with no windows. Additionally, ensuring an adequate number of appropriately dimensioned trickle vents are placed throughout the building can further improve indoor air quality and comfort. By embracing mechanical ventilation solutions, one can enjoy a more consistent, efficient, and healthier living environment.
While the instinct may be to keep windows closed to ward off allergens and external pollutants, embracing fresh air can be a beneficial choice. Closed windows may seem like a shield against allergens, but some argue they can foster allergen buildup indoors. In cases where homes are situated near busy roads, it's wise to recommend a controlled approach to window openings. Nevertheless, advising the use of window ventilation is crucial. Even in winter or urban environments, brief window openings can offer advantages.
Consumer Reports highlights insights from Heather Viola, DO, a primary care physician at Mount Sinai Doctors-Ansonia in New York City, emphasizing that "simply opening a window for as little as 5 minutes daily during winter can enhance a home's air quality by expelling stagnant air and reducing indoor air pollutant accumulation." However, it's important to acknowledge that natural ventilation cannot replace mechanical ventilation as it has its limitations and may not provide consistent or controlled airflow, potentially leading to temperature and indoor air quality issues.
Keeping an eye on the air quality inside homes helps to make informed decisions, assures you that safety levels are on point, and could potentially enhance the health and safety of the families living there. Several devices can be set up in the living space to monitor indoor air quality. These devices include VOC sensors that keep track of harmful chemicals, carbon dioxide meters, carbon monoxide alarms, and radon detectors.
Excessively damp or warm environments can result in the proliferation of bacteria and allergens, as well as the formation of mould. This can cause or aggravate the symptoms of a wide range of respiratory conditions. Many home heating systems operate on a thermostat, which can help maintain a comfortable and healthy temperature in the home, while also avoiding excessive heating bills. Failing this, room thermometers are widely available at low cost.
The same applies to monitoring air humidity – a hygrometer can be purchased at relatively little expense. It is recommended to keep humidity levels in dwellings between 30 and 50%. If levels exceed this, consideration should be given to installing or upgrading existing mechanical extract fans in the kitchen and bathroom or purchasing a dehumidifier.
There are a number of practices that can be adopted to improve air quality. In isolation the difference may be negligible, but in combination they can significantly improve indoor air quality. These include:
By passing on these recommendations to customers who are purchasing the properties, you can demonstrate genuine concern and set yourself apart as a responsible and caring property developer. For further reading, there are a wide range of articles available via the Envirovent website – feel free to recommend us to your customers as well!
© EnviroVent Ltd 2023. All right reserved. Part of S&P Group.