How Your Home’s Air Conditioner Affects Air Quality

Published on March 08, 2019

Home Air Conditioners Air Quality

The air quality, energy efficiency, and overall comfort of your home is directly tied to how well insulated and air sealed it is. By having a well-sealed and properly insulated home, you may notice a significant difference in comfort and air quality over a leaky home with poor insulation. The HVAC system in your home is also important, as it plays a significant role in keeping a home comfortable and with a consistent supply of fresh air from both the air conditioner and the furnace.

HVAC is an acronym, and it stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning - a very necessary factor in keeping a home comfortable. Many homes have a very poor HVAC system, and as a result they can negatively affect how comfortable the home is. By understanding how your HVAC system works, and how it can be used or improved effectively alongside airtightness and insulation improvements, you can become well equipped to start working towards higher levels of air quality and comfort at home.

With the help of Barrier Science’s team of Registered Energy Advisors, you can rest easy knowing that your home is functioning as efficiently and effectively as possible - which is especially important after doing major renovations such as installing new insulation or a new addition to your home.  

How a Home Air Conditioner Compares to the Average Commuter Car’s Air Conditioner

To help illustrate how an HVAC system works, as well as how it could be improved in a home, its beneficial to look at how it works in the average commuter car. If you are on your way to work, and you find yourself a bit too hot or a bit too cold, you are able to adjust not only the amount of air flow coming out of your vents, but also how much heat or cooling is pumped out as well - a feature that many HVAC systems do not have.

Car Air Conditioner

In most homes, the furnace and air conditioner simply have an on-off switch, with no option for variable fan speeds, heating, or cooling amounts. This makes it more difficult for a home to become comfortable, as these single-speed systems have no ability to accurately control the home’s temperature. More advanced furnaces and air conditioners are able to output variable amounts of heating, cooling, and air movement, making them more energy efficient and effective at keeping a home comfortable and with sufficient fresh air circulation.  

The air conditioning system in the average commuter car is also able to direct airflow exactly where it is needed - on the windshield to thaw some ice, or on your face to cool you off on a hot summer day for example. But in a home with a single-speed fan, it is much more difficult for a home to direct the airflow where it is needed, even in homes that have individual vents for air conditioning for each room.

This is due to the nature of a single-speed system, as it alternates between being on and off to control temperature, as opposed to a multi-speed system - such as the one found in the average commuter car - where it is able to quietly and continuously run at a low speed, providing fresh and filtered air to every room in the house. A multi-speed system can also help you save on energy, as the system does not need to run at full power every time the home’s temperature needs to be adjusted, and it allows for the correct amount of air to be pumped to each room that requires temperature adjustment or control.

Your Air Conditioner and Furnace Need Air Tightness and Insulation Help

Even if your home has a state of the art furnace and air conditioning system, it will still be difficult to maintain its level of comfort if the home is leaky and/or poorly insulated. Improving the level of insulation and air sealing in your home not only supplements your HVAC system, allowing it to work less often and more efficiently, it also works to improve your home’s energy efficiency, air quality, and even its market value due to desirable utility bill savings.

Through an Airtightness Test or a Home Energy Assessment, you can be made aware of how the energy efficiency of your home could be improved, and which methods of improvement would be the most cost-effective for you to consider. Barrier Sciences Group is proud to provide these tests to Ontario homeowners, and our Registered Energy Advisors are always happy to help you decide which options are the best fit for your home, your lifestyle, and your budget.

HVAC Air Conditioner

In a well sealed home, air quality improvements can be noticed because a lower amount of unfiltered air makes its way into the home’s interior; helping to keep pollen, allergens, dust, and even smoke in check. With a multi-speed HVAC system, the home’s air circulation fan can run at a lower speed and more often than a single-speed HVAC system, allowing for more air to be filtered through the HVAC system’s filters. This further improves air quality and allows the you to breathe even more fresh air than if they just had a well insulated and air sealed home.  

Control Humidity, Save on Energy, and Create Fresh Air

A very useful metric for determining the level of humidity in a home or building is called the dewpoint. The dewpoint refers to the temperature where air within a space cannot hold any more moisture, causing condensation to form. In a home, if condensation is forming on the interior of windows, then the dewpoint is too high, and is likely causing water to form inside the walls of the home as well.

Water and humidity buildup can cause mold and rot to occur, damaging the home’s structure and its air quality. Air conditioners are able to help control the level of moisture in a home, and lower its dewpoint through dehumidification. Air sealing and proper insulation can also help with dehumidifying the air to a comfortable and safe level, as less exterior air is able to penetrate and intrude through unsealed cracks and holes in the building envelope.

By getting in touch with BSG’s team of Registered Energy Advisors, the way that your home handles humidity and air quality can be illustrated and explained to you, allowing you to make an informed decision on how improvements can be made in the most energy efficient and affordable way possible.

The Canada Greener Homes Grant offers home efficiency renovation grants up to $5,000.

Homeowners Canada-wide are eligible for the Canada Greener Homes Grant, announced on May 27, 2021. This new incentive offers up to $5,000 in grants for home efficiency retrofit renovations, plus a $600 reimbursement for pre- and post-work EnerGuide evaluations. Eligible retrofit scopes include home insulation, heating, doors, windows, photovoltaic solar panels, resiliency measures, and thermostats.

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