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Understanding Impacts of Ventilation on Moisture Levels in Homes

Photo of Simplified schematic representation of a cross-flow energy recovery ventilator core that allows transfer of heat and moisture to incoming supply air from exhaust air. This core helps maintain indoor conditions while bringing in fresh outdoor air. USDA Forest ServiceSimplified schematic representation of a cross-flow energy recovery ventilator core that allows transfer of heat and moisture to incoming supply air from exhaust air. This core helps maintain indoor conditions while bringing in fresh outdoor air. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : “Build tight, ventilate right” is good for reducing energy use in homes. Ventilation can also change the moisture levels in homes, affecting both human comfort and structural durability. A Forest Service scientist investigated how to predict changes in moisture levels.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Boardman, Charles R.  
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 897

Summary

As buildings are constructed increasingly air-tight to reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling, they require mechanical ventilation (fans) to bring in outdoor air to maintain indoor air quality. Ventilation has a strong effect on comfort, indoor humidity levels, and durability. One type of ventilation technology that reduces the energy needed to heat or cool the outdoor supply air is known as an energy recovery ventilator (ERV). This piece of equipment transfers both heat and moisture between exhaust air and supply air streams; however, the amount of moisture transferred between air streams is a complicated function of indoor and outdoor conditions and ERV material properties. Manufacturers typically provide information only for summer and winter extreme conditions. A Forest Service study at the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisc., combined (1) in situ field measurements using an ERV in the Forest Products Laboratory’s Research Demonstration House, (2) laboratory measurements of material properties, and (3) computer modeling to characterize the moisture transfer through the ERV under a wide range of conditions. This study provided a physical basis for understanding and optimizing ERV performance and for understanding the impact of the ERV on indoor humidity conditions.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Forest Products Laboratory

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