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.
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