Article by Alan Macklin – Elta Group Technical Director
As a leading provider of ventilation solutions, one of Elta Fans’ greatest priorities is to provide, through its products, excellent indoor air quality (IAQ) for all environments.
Nowhere is this more important than in homes. The launch of the Elta Fans’ Mori dMEV decentralised mechanical extract ventilation unit is a great example of how the effects of IAQ influenced and drove the intensive two year design and development programme.
Why is IAQ so important?
Indoor air quality is vital to the health of our nation. Statistics tell us that the average UK citizen spends a staggering 90% of their time indoors and that 70% of this time is in their own homes. So it’s not surprising that indoor air quality is vital to the wellbeing of our population.
Today’s concern is that with so many properties being designed to be as near air tight as possible – to keep energy bills to a minimum and to prevent warm air escaping – there is evidence that adequate ventilation is put at risk. With that fact in mind, it’s no surprise that the stale, contaminated and humid air that we are breathing in our homes is bringing serious illness to many of our population.
The phrase ‘Toxic Home Syndrome’ refers to a person’s health deteriorating as a result of the air circulating in their home. The condition affects more than 15.3 million homes across the UK.
Mould is the enemy
Airtight homes, created by double glazing, insulation, draught proofing, blocked chimneys and other building modifications, bring with them problems of mould and condensation which provide an attractive environment for pollutants.
Mould is a type of fungi, a parasite that thrives on water, a food source and warm temperatures, which can wreak havoc in our homes. Germinating in as little as 4-12 hours, some moulds produce toxins that severely compromise IAQ and sometimes affect our immune systems.
The air we breathe
So who says this is a problem? The World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) for one. The W.H.O. published a paper that concluded that the air we breathe is polluted with, at its worst, a mixture of cancer causing substances. Other effects include respiratory illnesses, nasal stuffiness, coughing/wheezing, eye or throat irritation, skin rash, headaches and fatigue.
The UK press have recently released articles, bringing these issues and warnings to the fore of the public’s mind, graphically depicting the many air pollutants and contaminants that are sharing our homes.
Implications for housing stock
For those involved in owning and managing housing stock, dealing with the consequences of poor ventilation can be costly and severe, year on year.
There’s a vicious circle at work in poorly ventilated properties, condensation problems lead to investigations that result in repairs and treatments that prompt others to complain.
Within new build projects, it is becoming evermore imperative that IAQ requirements, based on a number of factors including location, occupancy activities, construction materials and many, many others are considered at the very beginning of the development and design process.
Bringing IAQ and ventilation requirements to the table for discussion in the early stages makes it easier, and more effective, to provide good IAQ at no added or reduced cost. Through a ventilation system that has considered all the potential issues and loads from lighting, glazing and building material selections.
This frightening situation has a relatively simple solution – effective ventilation. A balance between energy efficiency and indoor air quality is the aim. Good ventilation ensures that moisture is controlled and reduces air pollutants, leading to some significant benefits including: reducing condensation, air draughts, controlling dust mite populations, and allergenic materials.
Buildings need a constant supply of fresh air to ensure the good health of occupants. A well thought through ventilation strategy can, in the case of rented properties; help reduce maintenance budgets, the risk of tenant complaints and call outs. There are many well proven ventilation fans and products that can solve problems that often arise in kitchens, bathrooms, shower areas etc.
The innovative Elta Fans Mori dMEV decentralised mechanical extract ventilation unit has been designed around the need for good and reliable IAQ. Independent test results from the Building Research Establishment (BRE) highlight the unit’s low running costs, carbon footprint savings and multi application functionality.
The Mori dMEV has an annual running cost of less than £1 per year in a kitchen and just £0.75 in a bathroom/utility area. So for a typical house (kitchen + 3 wet rooms) average running costs would be £3.25 per annum.
Power consumption for continually running the Mori dMEV equates to almost a third of the energy of an 18W low energy light bulb in use four hours a day.
The unit also has exceptionally low noise levels that make it quieter than a ticking watch (typically 13 dB(A) for bathroom/utility. The product has brought to the house building and social housing markets, unprecedented efficiency. Each Mori dMEV saves 1.96 kg per year of CO2 compared to the next best unit on the market.