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The importance of improving indoor air quality

The ventilation industry has developed a range of energy-efficient products over the past few years to help its customers achieve robust sustainability targets. 

However, it is not enough just to specify a “green” product – the selected item actually has to work when installed, and continue working to achieve its potential. 

This is where the technical design stage comes in. A design service should focus on building regulations, sound and fire protection, ease of installation and commissioning.

Heat recovery units (HRUs) have been the most popular new products. Specifying them makes sense as they reuse the heat contained in the air by passing it over a heat exchanger on its way out of the building, then use that heat to warm fresh air coming in.

Today’s HRUs can achieve heat recovery in the low 90% mark, but only if the ducting is specified and installed correctly. A design team that includes people who know how to fit the product, understand the time and performance benefits of self-sealing ducting, and who look at the challenges around a specific install, can provide an accurate quote and advice on how to avoid pitfalls. The technical team should look at the practicalities when designing a ventilation scheme. What will work well for one building may not work quite as well for another, simply because of its layout and void space.

Once installed and commissioned, it is important that homeowners understand what a powerful tool a heat recovery system can be in helping reduce heating bills. Just as with a new car, it requires a little maintenance – not much, but filters and grilles do need to be kept free of dust. 

As technology for the home is developed to cut energy bills and improve human health, some responsibility does then lie with the occupant to carry out simple checks for it to function correctly.

Some companies offer filters for their heat recovery systems. This is because filters are designed to keep dust and other particles out of the air, thereby ensuring
the health of the occupants of the house. Filter technology is a science in itself, and filters are designed to be appropriate for specific locations.

The straightforward modern estate property may just need to focus on filtering general dust and pet hair. However, if it is located near a road, small-grade road dust may also need to be filtered. If it is surrounded by fields pollen filtering may be important, and in all cases mould spores and viruses need to be filtered during the winter months.

Homeowners simply need to be made aware that it is good practice to vacuum their filters and clean grilles with a dry cloth every three months to keep them free of dust.

If HRUs are looked after, in turn they will look after indoor air quality and maintain a healthy environment for householders.

Kevin Hippey is general manager at Vortice

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