Don't Swap Poorly Insulated Homes With Poorly Ventilated Ones!
As the Government’s Green Deal initiative swings into action this month, with home owners now able to take out long-term low-interest loans to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, it will be a challenge not to swap poorly insulated homes with inadequately ventilated ones.
Inadequate ventilation can cause minor health problems such as headaches and dizziness, through to more serious ones including respiratory illness and carbon monoxide poisoning.
For this reason, ventilation in the workplace is covered under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which state that workplaces need to be adequately ventilated by clean air drawn from an external source outside of the workplace and circulated throughout the building. However, while new homes are covered by Building Regulations, there is a danger that through ad-hoc energy improvements to reduce our bills, those of us living in older homes could be seriously harming our health through well-intentioned measures such as installing insulation and double glazing.
Penney Poyzer, from the Daily Telegraph, lives in Nottingham and retrofitted her Victorian semi so as to reduce heating bills from £2,500 to £200 a year. Penney says thinking about ventilation is vital. “Victorian houses were designed to be 'leaky’ to draw out harmful gases from coal burning and to supply inner rooms with fresh air. Stopping the leaks makes your house warmer, but poor ventilation is one of the key sources of mould and damp.” Penney solved her ventilation problem by installing a relatively new technology: single-room heat-recovery units in her bathrooms and kitchen. These through-the-wall ventilation ducts cleverly trap heat from stale air being drawn out of the house, and, via a heat exchanger, use that heat to warm fresh air coming in.
Andrew Mellor of PRP Architects, who has been involved in several retrofit projects, said: “Traditional mechanical ventilators or fans in kitchens and bathrooms remove bad smells and moisture from the rooms but in doing so also remove warm air and expel it outside of the home. Individual room heat-recovery ventilators recover that heat and preheat replacement incoming air to make the room more comfortable and reduce the amount of heat wasted, which in turn reduces heating bills.”
“Don’t forget your ventilation when insulating your homes” says Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire.