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Your Build - Spring 2018

Phase 2 Framing Your build Enhancing ventilation 42 Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4 Spring 2018 Insulating your home to improve your energy-efficiency is not a particularly new concept, but new techniques and drives to improve the insulation of properties is leading to more airtight homes, which introduce a new set of problems. Elliot Warrington, managing director of Solarcrest, explains more Season 2018 inhomes People generate a lot of moisture. From cooking, bathing, drying clothes and even breathing, it contributes up to 20 pints of moisture to your home a day for a family of four. In an airtight home when the heat is kept in, so is a lot more of that moisture. This condenses on colder surfaces causing damp and eventually black mould forming on windows and walls. Putting on the heating doesn’t make the problem go away, even though the condensation might vanish. It’s only evaporated and is still in the air ready to cause problems later. Black mould is unsightly, unpleasant and annoying to deal with, and has numerous wellknown impacts to the health of people living in a property. Recent research has linked its presence to not only the exacerbation of asthma symptoms in children, but also its initial onset. Poor ventilation leads to poor health The University of Otago in New Zealand has published a report comparing children who had recently begun suffering with asthma to a control group with no symptoms, and found a clear link between the first time a child begins to develop the condition, and living in homes which suffered from damp and mould, with evidence that the worse the mould problem was, the higher the likelihood of asthma occurring. People understand that poor insulation means high energy bills, but they don’t always realise that poor ventilation leads to poor health. ‘Build tight – ventilate right’ is the mantra of the Energy Savings Trust, because airtight properties don’t leak heat. When you warm them up they retain heat, sometimes all day. The only problem is that if you don’t change the air to remove the moisture and prevent the mould, your new airtight home will quickly turn into a Turkish bath. Half a job is worse than no job at all. Current advice on combating the damp is often as basic as ‘open a window’ or fitting window trickle vents and running noisy extractor fans. In a modest twobed home, the sum total of those window vents is equivalent to a 12-inch square hole in the side of your home, which defeats the object when the rest of your home needs to be airtight. If you shut those vents to prevent the draughts, you stop the path of air through the home and with it the ventilation. Extractor fans can only extract from a sealed house for so long. Meanwhile, simply opening a window isn’t ideal if you happen to suffer from hay fever, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, asthma, or live near a busy road where there is dangerous pollution from diesel engines, which exceed safe limits. Airtightness and ventilation Mechanical Heat Recovery Ventilation (MVHR) works by drawing air from wetrooms, such as the kitchen or bathroom, then using the heat from that air to warm clean fresh air from outside, before feeding it into bedrooms and living spaces. As well as removing the damp air that causes mould, filtration systems in the units also prevent dust, pollen and even the toxic diesel fumes from entering your home, leading to a healthier home all around. With MVHR you can have airtightness and ventilation without losing heat. We weren’t at all surprised to see the results of the study in New Zealand. We often point to a similar piece of research from the University of Wrexham from 2011, which showed that the installation of a quality ventilation system could significantly reduce the number and severity of asthma attacks in sufferers, leading to benefits such as fewer days off school and fewer medical costs, even to the extent that the study suggested making these systems available on prescription. As suppliers of both airtight insulation and MVHR ventilation, we have a unique perspective on how the two elements mesh together, both in the construction phase and operationally when the system is up and running, and we know that there is little point in fitting one without the other. Installing MVHR should be mandatory in all newbuilds and renovations based on the health benefits alone, not to mention the energy, cost and carbon-saving potential from airtight homes that only MVHR makes possible. www.solarcrest.co.uk


Your Build - Spring 2018
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