Monthly Archives: June 2014

Cool Your Attic with Natural Ventilation

Without a doubt, our attics are the hottest places in our homes. At times during the summer, attic temperatures can reach as high as 200° or more. No matter what steps you take to cool your home, without adequate ventilation in your attic, it can be a struggle to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in winter. In a sense, your home is alive and breathing much like we do. Let’s examine what I mean when I say that our homes are living and breathing. We will also consider natural ventilation and how it will help you save energy in a big way.

Science teaches us that hot air rises. It is this principle that makes natural ventilation work. Most of the heat that is generated in our attics hangs around in our attics; that is why attics are so hot. If there is no place for the hot air to escape, our houses will not start the breathing process. By breathing process, I mean hot air out and fresh air in—without it, cooling our homes efficiently becomes very difficult.

The ac unit in your home does more than just cool your home. The ac unit also circulates air throughout your house. That is the reason for air returns and filters on the ac unit. If you turn your ac unit on and go to a closed room and feel at the bottom of the door, you will feel air being pulled from the room towards the fresh air return on your ac unit. The same principle applies when your ac unit pulls hot air down from your attic through holes, light sockets, and ceiling fans as well as other small cracks in and around your ceilings. This is the main reason we need our attics to be cooler.

  • There are several ways to vent your attic and keep it cooler. There are natural vents that cost you no money at all to operate. These vents work from the natural movement of hot and cold air. There are many types of vents that operate using electricity and will do a great job of venting your attic. But the object here is to save money. You can use one of the following methods to vent your attic; the more you use, the better because all these types of vents work great together.
  • Continuous ridge vents are located and installed at the peak of your roof. They are designed to let the hot air escape through the openings located at the very top of your roof. There will be about a 2” gap on each side of the ridge, and it will run the total length of your building. This will allow hot air to escape from your attic.
  • Gable vents are located at the ends of your attic at the top of your gable ends. These vents will also allow hot air to escape from your attic.
  • Whirly birds are vents that are installed close to the top of your roof. These are installed on the outside of your roof. When the wind blows, the turbines are turned, and it helps exhaust the hot air from your attic.
  • Soffit vents are located at the bottom of your roof underneath the soffits. They are usually installed every 4’ around your house. These small but effective vents are very important because, when hot air leaves your attic, fresh air is pulled into your attic through these vents. This is where the “breathing” aspect of your home originates.

If you install these vents in your home, your attic will cool off several degrees, and your home will be easier to cool—saving you money. Another benefit is that after these vents are installed, it costs you no money for them to operate. You will be cooling your attic with natural ventilation.

 

Understanding Our HVAC Filters

Today, filters are a very important part of our lives. We use filters in our water systems to help filter the water we use. There are filters in our cars and trucks to help them perform efficiently. Your HVAC filter is a very important part of your heating and air conditioning unit’s performance; it helps to ensure that your family breaths clean air, reducing allergies that may be triggered by particles in the air. A clean HVAC filter will also save you money by improving the energy efficiency of your unit. There are three classifications of air conditioning filters based on the materials they are made of as well as the operations they perform. The three classifications are mechanical, electronic, and pleated air filters; we will take a look at each type.

Mechanical Air Filters

This is the most common air conditioning filter used in homes today. The mechanical filter uses synthetic fibers to catch small particles and debris. Mechanical filters are also available as a charcoal filter. Disposable fiberglass filters are available in various sizes to accommodate any HVAC air exchanger. A disposable fiberglass filter is the most economical but also the least effective. Disposable fiberglass filters will need to be thrown away and replaced by a new filter after use.

Pleated Air Filters

A pleated air filter will remove around 35 to 40 percent of the air pollutants found in your home. They are more effective than a mechanical filter because of the denser construction. They contain more fibers per square inch than a mechanical filter. Naturally the denser the fibers, the more particles they will absorb and remove from the air. These filters are more expensive, but you get what you pay for.

Electronic Air Filter

The electronic filter is the most expensive of the three types; it is also the most effective. It will trap the smallest of dust particles and debris. An electronic filter will also filter smaller molecules such as smoke, mold, and pet odors. These filters will have a longer life—lasting up to 6 months in some cases. Electronic filters are also marketed as allergy-free filters.

Air conditioning filters are classified into categories according to their MERV rating. Filters belonging to the MERV 7 category will remove larger particles and provide standard protection. MERV 8 filters will provide higher protection against pet odors, dust, and pollen particles. The best filters are found in the MERV 11 category. These filters will provide the best protection from allergies and asthma illnesses. If you have any question about which type of filter would be best for you and your family, check with your HVAC contractor to help you with your decision.