It’s always a good idea to have an energy-efficient home. But what does that mean in practice? There are many aspects to this question, but today we are going to focus on the role of ventilation when it comes to your electricity usage. Specifically, we will focus on the problems that can come from an improperly ventilated attic.
The Problems Of Overventilation
So, our goal is to lower your electric bill by lowering your energy usage. This goal requires that we answer a question: what part of your home electrical system is eating up the most power and money? The answer, in nearly all cases, is the HVAC system. This one purpose accounts for almost half of all home energy usage. The amount of energy that is required to keep the temperature of your home at a constant state far outstrips everything else in your home. So, that’s where we need to focus our attention.
the HVAC system is connected to a thermostat, which is just a temperature-activated switch. It tells the system what to do and when to do it, and regulates every part. When the weather is cold, it tells the HVAC system to produce heat until the desired temperature is reached.
Because hot air has a tendency to rise, it will end up in the attic. Once the attic has become filled with hot air, the hot air will begin to permeate the rest of the house from the top down. But, of course, that won’t work too well if the air is escaping from the attic. That’s why an over-ventilated attic will cause your heating bills to go through the roof.
In the summertime, you get a similar problem. The basic function of an air conditioner is to displace hot air with cool air. Because cool air descends, this process will take place from the ground upwards. Still, excess ventilation can lead you to a situation in which the heat from your attic settles downward, negating the effects of your air conditioning. This forces the AC to work harder in order to compensate, causing the bill to hike upwards.
The Problems Of Underventilation
At the same time, underventilation is just as bad. Once again, we come back to this basic principle: The harder the HVAC system has to work, the higher your electric bill climbs. This is where the importance of pressure comes into play. When your home is tightly sealed, the air is more compressed, and the system has to work harder in order to move that much air. If you leave too many of your vents closed, the problem becomes even worse.
This is a particularly big problem in the winter. During the winter, people are tempted to keep their homes tightly shut, so as to keep the heat inside. Of course, that makes it harder for that heat to circulate. And guess where most of it goes? You guessed it…the attic. During the winter, it’s best to crack the windows slightly so that things don’t get too compressed and humid. That brings us to the most often-overlooked problem in this category.
There is another big problem that will come from a poorly ventilated attic/home. That problem is humidity, and it should not be underestimated. If you want to understand this problem, think about how a terrarium works. Living organisms exhale water vapor, and the water vapor tends to collect on the outside of the glass. Your home works the same way. Human respiration processes, as well as the evaporation of household liquids, cause your home’s air to be naturally humid. The only way to deal with this problem is through sufficient ventilation. This allows the wet air inside your home to be switched with dry air from outside.
How To Get it Right
It can be tricky to get this kind of thing right, finding a happy medium between too much and too little. For starters, you should get a small hygrometer. This is a device that measures humidity. As we explained before, the air in your home is naturally humid, but only if you don’t have sufficient ventilation. Thus, you can use a hygrometer to get an idea of how well-ventilated your home might be. Anything above 65% means that your home probably needs more ventilation.
It’s also a good idea to change your HVAC filters about once a month. A clean filter allows the system to work with less obstruction, and that will translate to a lower bill at the end of the month. You should also make it a habit to keep all your vents open. This helps to keep the air pressure low. Once again, the goal is to allow your HVAC to be lazy.
Good insulation can also make a big difference. If you find any little cracks or gaps in your home, seal them up with some expanding foam. If the insulation is old or inferior, switch it out with something better. The whole point is to control your home’s level of ventilation, and you can’t do that if you can’t account for all the leaks. You want the air to escape at the places that you choose, and nowhere else.
While this can seem like a tricky problem, it really isn’t as hard as it may seem. If you run into trouble, you can always call a professional. In many cases, they will probably be willing to give you some good advice for free. Speaking of which, we hope that our free advice has been of use to you. If so, please fill out the contact form below so that we can bring you more of our expert advice.