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Understanding the finer points of home ventilation

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May 13, 2011

With the push to save on energy bills and make your home as green as possible, wouldn't it be great to find a way to cool your home without having to turn on that air conditioner? If you understand the principles of great air ventilation in your home, you can do just that.

Understanding home ventilation

Many homeowners believe the best way to cool their home during the sweltering months is to simply open a window or two. But if you want effective air flow throughout your home, it's a bit more complicated than that. Try these tips and see how much the thermometer drops.

  1. The chimney effect is the most efficient way to get air flow through your home. This occurs when cool air enters the building on the first floor or the basement level, rises as it absorbs the heat in the room, and then exits out the windows on the top floor. The lower air pressure then pulls even more air in the lower windows.
  2. Start experimenting with the windows in your home. Don't open windows that are across the room from each other. That encourages air to flow straight through, and does little to cool the rest of the house. Instead, open the windows on the lower level that catches the best breeze. Open the windows on the top level on the side of the house opposite the wind direction. This forces the air to flow a longer distance, taking warmth with it.
  3. All your ventilation experiment is for naught if your attic temperature skyrockets. The sun beating down on your roof causes the attic temperature to rise quickly. The best way to avoid this heat making its way to the living space is to use at least a foot of insulation in your attic to combat the transfer. You can also look into reflective roof material that pushes the sunlight away rather than absorbing it.
  4. Even with taking the above precautions, attic ventilation remains an important part of keeping your house cool. You need about one square foot of opening for every 100 square feet of ceiling area. Split the vents equally between the rooftop and the soffits.
  5. If that's not quite enough, consider installing an attic fan as well, but remember, that uses electricity to operate--and that can undermine your energy-conserving efforts.

Let the natural motion of the breeze cool down your home. Take your time with experimenting to find the perfect combination of air ventilation that works to bring down the heat.

About the Author:

Shannon Dauphin is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. Her current home was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her necessary hobbies.

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