Many homes today use artificial ventilation provided by modern HVAC systems. Although HVAC systems are considered to be a defining innovation responsible for bringing comfort into homes and commercial establishments, HVAC systems are also one of the most significant contributors to carbon emissions. If you want to shift to more eco-friendly living, one of the easiest and most practical methods is by incorporating natural ventilation into your home. Simply put, you will allow outdoor air to naturally ventilate and cool the interior living space through openings like windows and doors.
Incorporating natural ventilation in new builds
In the planning stages of building a new home, natural ventilation can be integrated through the following design elements:
- Taller windows. Taller windows that are at least 3.6 feet in height will help with air movement indoors and reduce the heat load on the ceiling. Depending on the architect’s preference, tall windows can be constructed into panels with window controls for easy opening and closing.
- Air or wind deflectors. A wind deflector changes the direction of air flow and is either installed in a horizontal or vertical position. Different forms of wind deflectors include slats and overhangs placed at higher levels for redirecting air movement.
- Window orientation. The ideal location of windows should be in the south or north sections of a house. This orientation has the optimum effect of allowing the natural breeze to enter and flow inside during summer. You can add small high windows in the north and south side of your home with manual window controls for access.
- Transitional space. A transitional space like a balcony or atrium helps encourage air flow inside the house.
Natural ventilation does not only cut down energy consumption but also helps improve indoor air quality which is beneficial to the environment and the occupants.
Retrofitting natural ventilation into your home
If you want to incorporate natural ventilation into your home, the following are a few suggestions which are effective retrofit solutions:
- Cover pavement with vegetation. Covering exposed pavement and hard surfaces with grass and vegetation reduces heat retention. This method can also help direct cold air into the home.
- Water features. Water is a crucial element that helps facilitate natural ventilation and cooling. Adding water features such as a pond or fountain near open spaces can help cool air before it enters the house.
- Bamboo and wicker furniture. Bamboo and wicker have low heat retention and usually have airy construction. Although typically used outdoors, bamboo and wicker furniture can also be used indoors to create a cooler atmosphere.
- Opening windows frequently. Many people these days barely open windows and doors for reasons such as safety, noise, and outdoor pollution. But you will be surprised at the amount of pollution indoors due to volatile organic compounds found in household cleaning chemicals. Open windows regularly to keep outside air in because fresh air will help improve indoor air quality.
Natural ventilation was somewhat put aside when modern HVAC systems became commonplace. But in this day and age when eco-friendly practices are becoming the norm, natural ventilation is one of the most straightforward and practical green living practices to adopt.