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  • Ventilation in Apartments: Improving Air Circulation

    Ventilation in Apartments: Improving Air Circulation

    On hot summer days, when going outside feels like walking into an oven or a sauna, we often flock to indoor spaces to find an escape from the heat. While air conditioning is necessary for such situations, proper air ventilation is equally important. However, many people are unaware of how apartment ventilation works!

    Air conditioning is a type of mechanical ventilation. The main difference between AC and ventilation systems is that air conditioning recycles and cools the air. On the other hand, ventilation systems draw fresh outdoor air in and push stale indoor air out. To achieve optimal air quality and circulation, you need air conditioning and ventilation working together.

    Continue reading to learn more about the importance of good air circulation!

    Why Do Apartments Need Good Air Circulation?

    The EPA estimates that Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, where air pollutants are sometimes two to five times more concentrated than they are in outdoor air. Because of this, the concentration will likely be higher if there's poor ventilation in an apartment. Some common apartment air pollutants include:

    • Carbon monoxide
    • Lead
    • Molds
    • Ozone
    • Pesticides
    • Pet dander
    • Radon
    • Tobacco smoke

    With the potential for those pollutants, it's essential to know how to circulate air in an apartment to safeguard your health and indoor air quality.

    Benefits of Good Air Circulation

    Besides limiting air pollutants, here are some benefits of an apartment with good air circulation:

    • Better indoor air quality: As air pollutants subside, air quality improves. Robust air circulation systems reduce humidity levels and remove unhealthy substances from the air. They replace polluted air with fresh and clean outside air as they do so. On days when outdoor air quality poses a risk, you can still breathe in the fresh air.
    • Increased energy savings: While ventilation alone may not be able to cool an apartment sufficiently alone, it can reduce AC dependency. As AC systems use large amounts of energy, minimizing AC use while maintaining a comfortable temperature can help save on energy costs.
    • Improved comfort: Improved air quality also results in a more comfortable living space. Indoor air pollutants can cause asthma or allergy flare-ups, sore throats, rashes, eye irritation and other health concerns. Since bacteria and viruses thrive in warm, tepid air, good air circulation can help prevent illness and infection. Good air circulation will also rid an apartment of stale smells and foul odors. Better health and fresher air will optimize anyone's apartment living experience.

    Consequences of Bad Air Circulation

    The benefits of good air circulation make it easy to guess the consequences of bad air circulation. Insufficient air circulation often causes poor indoor air quality, increased energy costs and uncomfortable living conditions. Other consequences of bad air circulation include:

    • Bad odors.
    • Potential health issues.
    • Increased pollutants and unhealthy substances in the air.
    • Less efficient cooling and increased dependence on AC systems.

    What Types of Ventilation Are in Apartment Buildings?

    Knowing the different types of ventilation that apartment buildings use is helpful in understanding how apartment ventilation works and how to create airflow in an apartment.

    Mechanical Ventilation

    HVAC systems include a mechanical ventilation framework, which uses fans and ducts to control airflow into and out of buildings. They pull in warm, moist outside air and replace it with cool, dehumidified air.

    Mechanical ventilation systems also regulate climate-controlled air within the home. They improve indoor air quality by controlling indoor humidity levels and outside airflow.

    Some downsides of mechanical ventilation include increased energy costs and potential air moisture issues. However, they effectively cool your house down and provide solid air circulation.

    Natural Ventilation

    Natural ventilation refers to ventilation that doesn't use fans or ducts to pull air in from the outside. The simplest example of natural ventilation is opening the apartment windows to let fresh air move through the unit. Natural ventilation offers a cost-free way to get fresh air into your home.

    While you can save on energy costs by using natural ventilation as much as possible, it's essential to understand the many situations where it isn't a workable solution. While natural ventilation reduces reliance upon mechanical ventilation systems, it has no way to control indoor humidity levels. It also doesn't keep climate-controlled air inside the apartment building and if the outside air is stale, odorous or polluted, natural ventilation can decrease indoor comfort.

    Hybrid Ventilation

    Hybrid ventilation systems attempt to capture the benefits of both natural and mechanical ventilation while minimizing their downsides. These systems involve fresh air inlets that allow outside air into the building and an air duct routing system that directs the air to a supply fan. The supply fan increases air pressure and disperses the air throughout the apartment building. Then the ceiling exhaust fans expel stale indoor air outside the building.

    How Can You Improve Air Circulation in an Apartment?

    You have several ways to improve air circulation in an apartment! Depending on your ventilation system, some options for circulating air conditioning more efficiently include:

    • Opening windows and vents: Apartments usually have fewer windows and air vents than houses, making it more challenging to keep the air fresh. With fewer entry points, it's even more important to make the most of what you have by keeping apartment vents windows open whenever possible.
    • Strategic fan positioning: Placing fans in front of open windows can propel fresh air inside and circulate air conditioning in an apartment.
    • Changing air filters: Clogged air ducts commonly cause poor air circulation in apartments. Make sure to change your air filters frequently or ensure your property manager changes them regularly.
    • Using air purifiers: Air purifiers remove odors and contaminants from indoor air. Since apartments have fewer windows and air vents, air purifiers are an excellent investment for apartment dwellers who want to neutralize stale air.
    • Assigning smoke-free zones: If possible, make your apartment a smoke-free zone or designate areas where tenants or visitors can smoke, such as a balcony or near open windows.
    • Sealing your ducts: Poor ductwork leads to various ventilation issues, such as odors seeping from vents, poor airflow, hot and cold spots, rattling sounds and increased energy costs. Sealing your ducts can solve many ventilation issues.
    • Cross ventilation: Cross ventilation combines strategic fan positioning with open windows and vents to create cool environments. An open window lets in outside air to freshen and cool the indoor space. Strategically placed fans increase the air pressure and direct it to an outlet window where the air escapes. Placing a fan in front of the inlet window propels the air through your space, while a second fan changes its direction toward the outlet window.

    Want to Improve Your Air Circulation Today?

    Let us help you find the right air filter or a great air purifier today. For all your comfort and ventilation needs, choose Ingrams Water and Air Equipment.

  • What Temperature Should You Set?

    What Temperature Should You Set?

    Finding the right temperature setting can save you money, increase comfort, and overall make you a happy homeowner! Learn the best temp for you here!
  • Converting From Baseboard Heating to Forced Air

    Converting From Baseboard Heating to Forced Air

    Baseboard heating and forced air are some of the most popular ways to keep a home warm, but what's the difference between them, and which one is better?
  • What Types of Thermostats Are There?

    What Types of Thermostats Are There?

    Heating and cooling your home contributes to a majority of your energy expenses. Upgrading your thermostat is a great way to cut down on those costs and fine-tune your at-home comfort. Adjusting the temperature throughout the day, such as while you're away or while you sleep, can save you up to 10 percent annually and even ensure a good night's rest. But since there isn't one thermostat to rule them all, you'll want to make sure you upgrade to a thermostat model that is compatible with your home's system and wiring.

    So how do you find out what kind of thermostat you need? To answer that, let's take a look at what types of thermostats are available, how they work with your HVAC system and what you should be looking for in a replacement.

    What types of thermostats are there?

    Thermostats fall into two general categories — manual and programmable. Between these two models there are three styles — electronic, electromechanical and smart. This variety allows for a few different combinations, so let's take a look at each option to better understand what they offer and how they work.

    Manual thermostats

    Sometimes referred to as analog thermostats, manual thermostats require homeowners to manually adjust their system to manage their home's temperature. They tend to cost less up front and they can last longer, but they aren't always reliable when it comes to temperature accuracy. They can also make it harder to cut energy expenses, since you have to remember to change the temperature every time you leave, come home or go to sleep. As home technologies advance, people are beginning to shift away from manual thermostat models in favor of their programmable counterparts.

    Programmable thermostats

    Programmable thermostat models are ideal for customization and energy savings. As their name suggests, homeowners can program these thermostats to adjust the temperature during different parts of the day. This cuts down on the cost of heating or cooling the house while residents are away. Different settings can be chosen for certain days of the week, such as keeping things warmer or cooler on weekends when individuals and families are spending more time at home. Programmable models allow you to keep the house at your preferred temperatures while you're there and modify it while you're away, ensuring reliable comfort without hiking your utility bills.

    While these models tend to have a higher price tag up front, programmable thermostats can save you money in the long run. Just don't try to treat a programmable model like its an analog thermostat! Allowing the automatic controls to do the work, as opposed to turning the temperature up and down, is your best bet for using a programmable thermostat to its full potential!

    Styles of thermostats

    All thermostats regulate a home's heating and cooling system, but how they do that and what systems they're compatible with are what determine the style. The three styles, their function and capabilities are as follows:

    • Electronic thermostats use digital sensors to detect temperature and adjust the heating and cooling system accordingly. They're all programmable and can be used to customize settings and control air accordingly.
    • Electromechanical thermostats are commonplace in older homes and use older technology. Using a combination of electricity and internal mechanics, this style of thermostat often relies on internal coils and a small vile of mercury to manage temperatures. Their programming functions are extremely limited, but they typically work with most gas, oil and electric systems.
    • Smart thermostats are the latest advancement in home technology. They are internet-enabled, which means they can be adjusted remotely through your smartphone, tablet or computer. Smart thermostats offer the most room-to-room customization, maximum efficiency and advanced automation. These are the most sophisticated thermostats on the market, but be aware that they are not universally compatible with all HVAC systems.

    Between these three styles, there are lots of options to consider when deciding which one is right for you, but one of the quickest ways to narrow down the list is choosing a compatible thermostat for your HVAC system.

    Are all thermostats compatible with all HVAC systems?

    Unfortunately, not all thermostats are compatible with every HVAC system. In the same way that not all thermostats are created equal, neither are heating and cooling systems. The ability for systems to communicate with a thermostat and vice versa depends on things like voltage, wiring, and zoning, among other things. Understanding your home's heating and cooling capabilities can determine which thermostat will work best for you.

    How do I check my HVAC system's compatibility?

    There are several things that determine your HVAC's compatibility. While you may be able to determine some of these components on your own, having a professional to come look at your system is the best way to get an accurate idea of what you'll need in a new thermostat. Let's break down the four things a professional is going to look at in your system — wiring, voltage, zoning and stages.

    Wiring

    Wiring is the biggest determinant of which type of thermostat is right for you. The system you have will determine what wires are available for connection. A more complex thermostat may require wiring that is not available in your equipment, which may eliminate some contenders. Another wiring consideration is where your original thermostat is placed in your home. To avoid some technical rewiring work, you'll want to ensure that a new thermostat is able to replace the old one where it currently rests on the wall. Each HVAC system is equipped with a circuit schematic, but it's best to leave deciphering these up to the professionals! A misstep with wiring can lead to all sorts of damage, including malfunctions, expensive repairs and higher utility bills.

    Voltage requirements

    Your thermostat needs to be compatible with your HVAC's voltage requirements. All systems have one of these three voltage levels:

    • Low voltage or 24V power
    • Millivolt
    • High voltage, 110V or 240V power

    Most thermostats are designed for low voltage systems, which is the most popular level in homes today. However, if you have wall or floor heaters, the voltage will be millivolt, and if you have an electric baseboard system, the voltage will be high. Be sure to look for this classification when shopping for your new thermostat. Once again, a professional is your best bet in understanding the voltage compatibility you'll need.

    Zoning

    The temperature in a house can vary room to room and floor to floor. Whether the sun beats down on the upstairs during the afternoon or a section of your house was poorly insulated, there are many causes for these discrepancies. That's where zoning comes in! System zoning refers to a network of thermostats that control various parts of your house and are connected to a primary control center. Using dampers in the ductwork, the separate thermostats work independently to maintain each zone's programmed temperatures.

    By controlling the flow of air to an unused section of the house you can save money, or you could customize bedroom temperatures to suit individual preferences. Though systems with zoning capabilities require an initial upfront investment, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that proper zoning controls can save homeowners up to 40 percent on their energy costs!

    Single-stage, two-stage or variable speed

    Heating and cooling systems can be classified into three output stages: single-stage, two-stage and variable speed. A single-stage system can only operate on one output setting, which is full power. It's either on or it's off. Two-stage systems offer more flexibility. These systems have the option to run at a slower speed, usually around 65 percent. This is a great option for milder climates since it can heat or cool the house gradually. Two-stage systems can also run at full capacity, which can be used during more extreme weather. Variable speed systems offer a range of speeds that allows your system to nuance its output for different temperature conditions. The best way to determine whether you'll need a single-stage thermostat, two-stage thermostat or variable speed thermostat also involves wiring, which is yet another reason why calling a professional is a smart move!

    What should you look for in a replacement thermostat?

    Now that you understand your system's compatibility requirements, you may still have a handful of thermostats to choose from. There are some additional variables to consider when upgrading your thermostat, including price, features and precision.

    Price

    When considering price, there is a thermostat for every budget. Some manual thermostats can cost as low as $20, while advanced thermostats sell for well over $500. While a low-cost option may be a tempting place to save money, spending a little extra up front may actually be the best way to save over time. Choosing a compatible thermostat that offers energy-efficient technology can save you in your heating and cooling bills, an expense that adds up in a hurry. Just be sure you don't spend extra for features you don't intend to use. Know your system and your lifestyle needs and spend accordingly!

    Features

    Thermostats offer a variety of unique features for your system. Programmability is an obvious feature, allowing you to automate the temperature in your home for different times of day or even days of the week. Just set the controls and walk away! Some thermostats offer additional inputs and can collect information on humidity levels and outdoor conditions, as well as options like occupancy sensors.

    Internet-enabled smart thermostats allow you to control your home's system from your mobile device. This can allow you to lower the temperature while you're away and turn it back up before you get home. This is convenient when going on vacation or for people with unpredictable schedules. They can also send notifications to your device to help you keep track of your energy use for cutting costs.

    For homeowners with a variety of air-quality control units, such as humidifiers, dehumidifiers or air purifiers, there are thermostats that can manage all of your equipment. Coordinating your home's systems through one thermostat is a very convenient and attractive feature!

    Precision

    Choosing a thermostat that offers temperature precision can make all the difference. Today's technology can help decrease the discrepancies between what your thermostat says and what your system is actually doing. By being able to detect the ambient temperature more efficiently, your HVAC system won't have work as hard. Not only can this help with energy-efficiency, it can keep you comfier and from fiddling with your system's settings.

    Looking For a New Thermostat?

    Your search ends here! Let us help you find the perfect thermostat to suit all your needs at Ingrams Water and Air Equipment.

  • How Does an Air Handler Work?

    How Does an Air Handler Work?

    An air handler is one of the most important parts of your home comfort system, but how exactly does it work? Learn about it by clicking here!
  • How Do Evaporator Coils Work?

    How Do Evaporator Coils Work?

    If you've ever wondered how evaporator coils help make your home comfortable, click here to learn about one of the most important HVAC units!
  • How Does a 95% AFUE Gas Furnace Work?

    How Does a 95% AFUE Gas Furnace Work?

    It's well known that a 95% AFUE gas furnace is highly efficient, but how does one work? If you've been considering buying one, click here to learn more.
  • What's Inside Packaged HVAC Units?

    What's Inside Packaged HVAC Units?

    A packaged HVAC unit is a great way to provide comfort to those in your home. But what's inside a packaged HVAC unit? Learn this and more here!
  • Can I Use a Smart Thermostat?

    Can I Use a Smart Thermostat?

    Using a smart thermostat can be one of the greatest ways to ensure total comfort and increased savings. Find out why and how to install one here!
  • How Long is an Average Furnace Life?

    How Long is an Average Furnace Life?

    Knowing the signs of an aging furnace will help you understand when it needs to be repaired, or when it needs to be replaced.
  • Should I Turn My AC On and Off?

    Should I Turn My AC On and Off?

    You might want to shut your AC off to save money every day: you're not there to feel it! Unfortunately, doing this can actually produce the opposite result.
  • Gas Furnace Maintenance: What's Involved?

    Gas Furnace Maintenance: What's Involved?

    Staying on top of your furnace maintenance schedule will extend its life and improve its operation. Learn what entails furnace service here.

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