These Design Principles Can Help You Make Your Home Well-Ventilated
Before we begin to share how to ventilate your home, it is imperative to understand the why is ventilation important.
Ventilation in today's homes has become more important than it was for homes that existed long ago. Houses built a century ago had no insulated walls thus had gaps, cracks and holes, that allowed the flow of fresh air.
Also, the building material used were mostly natural products that did not result in significant production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, flame retardants, and other chemicals that are so prevalent in today's building material, furnishings, and other stuff. In order to overcome these hazardous gases and even let the walls and home breathe, ventilation is of utmost importance.
How do we ventilate?
Today, a large population lives in pre-designed and constructed highrise apartments, leaving them with little choice to the overall design of the home. Nonetheless, if you live in one such apartment, there are important factors you must keep in mind to ensure maximum ventilation:
- Cross ventilation: Windows or vents placed on opposite sides of the building let the natural breeze move in and out, a pathway through the structure. This is called cross-ventilation as illustrated in the diagram below. Try and pick a home that has rooms which reflect the below illustrations:
- Greens that promote ventilation: An important part of ventilation is to improve air quality. You could do this by replacing stale air with new fresh air. Use some simple indoor plants that act as natural air purifiers and significantly improve the quality of air in your room. So, if you have a room or a balcony, close to your room, keep a few of plants including Dracaena, Bamboo plant and even the Aloe Vera plant. In a month, you can actually feel the difference in the air quality.
- Type of windows/openings: Use casement windows to catch and deflect breeze from varying angles.
Source: Dept of Environment and Resource Management, Qld
For breeze collection, window design is more important than orientation. Wind doesn't blow through a building — it is sucked towards areas of lower air pressure. To draw the breeze through, use larger openings on the leeward (low pressure or downwind) side of the house and smaller openings on the breeze or windward (high pressure or upwind) side. Openings near the centre of the high pressure zone are more effective because pressure is highest near the centre of the windward wall and diminishes toward the edges as the wind finds other ways to move around the building.
- Mechanically balanced ventilation: In case you have a spacious home with insufficient ventilation, and reduced air flow because of the proximity of other buildings, then you may have no option but to opt for an artificial-balanced ventilation system, Balanced ventilation systems can be either point-source or ducted. Ducted systems help deliver fresh air to spaces that are most lived in (living room, bedrooms, etc.) and exhaust indoor air from places where moisture or pollutants are generated (bathrooms, kitchen, hobby room).
Shezaan Bhojani is an award-winning Architect and Co-Founder of Design Café, an online interior design company that lets you design and build your home interiors in four easy steps.