Timber Frame Interior Air Quality
Feeling too cold or too warm? Most of us simply adjust the thermostat, AC, open or close a few windows, grab a sweater, shed a sweater, wrap up in a blanket or some other similar behavior to help us feel more comfortable inside our homes. The comfort of your home as attributed to variations in temperature can be attributed to any number of sources and we will talk about the most important ones.
The primary reasons for your discomfort include, poor insulation, uncontrolled air-infiltration/exfiltration, out-dated window glass, windows facing the wrong direction, a floor plan that disregards the sun’s path, an older or improperly sized heating and/or cooling system and finally, inadequate air-management system or none at all. Whatever type of heating system that your home has, the interior air needs to be properly treated to create a healthy and comfortable environment.
Everyday, the weathermen will tell us what temperature to expect along with percentage of humidity because they understand that too much or too little moisture/humidity will affect our level of comfort almost as much as the temperature. Within your home, you may be overlooking the importance of controlling moisture, or the relative humidity*. (Note: “relative humidity” is the amount of moisture in relationship to the temperature, i.e. the higher the temperature the more potential moisture that air will contain within a given volume.)
Too high or too low, relative humidity will have a negative effect on our personal comfort and quite possibly our health. Prevailing wisdom suggests that the relative humidity on the interior of a home should range between a low of 30% to a high of 50%. Within this range, personal comfort is optimized and the potential for the growth of mold and fungi will be minimized, and air-borne respiratory allergens greatly diminished. (Note: Regarding allergies, consult your physician regarding humidity in your home and the installation of HEPA filtration.)
When heating your home, the higher the level of moisture/humidity the more comfortable you will feel. When cooling your home, the lower the moisture/humidity the more comfortable you will feel. For example, in Florida, 90 degrees Fahrenheit with 80% humidity will feel oppressive whereas in Colorado 90 degrees humidity 30% humidity, will feel relatively comfortable. Consequently, by maintaining the proper level of moisture in your home you can save on heating and cooling costs while experiencing greater comfort.
Recently, most manufacturers of residential heating and cooling systems have come to recognize the importance of managing the quality of the interior air and not just heating or cooling it. A well-schooled Architect will also know the importance of including air-management in a new home and in fact, it is required by many building codes.
Interior Air Quality Solutions From Woodhouse
At Woodhouse we have recommended air-management systems for all of our homes for decades and see the need for air-management on a number of fronts. First is the tightness of our homes (a good thing and something that is now being required by building codes) as related to the use of SIPs to enclose the timber frame. An air-management system will introduce fresh, pre-conditioned exterior air into a tightly constructed home in lieu of the haphazard leaks of older homes and building systems. Second is to maintain a higher and more consistent moisture level as part of the maintenance of the timber frame itself – too little or too much moisture can be detrimental to the timbers.
Fortunately for most of us the physics of a creating a comfortable home is easily reduced to an affordable and now necessary air-management system that can be included as part of your HVAC system. But please contact us at Woodhouse if you have any further questions about the importance of moisture and air-management within the interior of your timber frame home.