Our house came equipped with two HRV systems. I know this will excite some people - and perhaps in some houses HRV systems are worth having, but I am not sold. Ventilation is good, yes, but several thousand dollars is a big outlay for something that only somewhat dries out the air.
That's a bit beside the point when someone has already put the systems in, though, so we thought we'd give it a whirl. Well, we've been here for two months now, and used the HRVs for the first month (maybe a bit more) while we worked out what to do about heating (there were two heat pumps, but they only heated the rooms they're in, leaving the rest of the house pretty cold).
We've now decided on our heating solution (a reasonably uncommon option for Kiwis - ducted gas central heating - more on that soon as we're in the process of installing the ducting ourselves) and have had a bunch of electrical work done, including having the HRVs removed. Have we noticed a difference? Not really.
We're well aware that ventilation is very important for a healthy home - and lacking in many NZ houses, probably mainly because they feel so cold - but there are other ways to achieve that.
The best way to ventilate, and cheapest by a long shot, is to throw open the windows - as many as possible, in particular those which will catch the cross wind - for 10-30 minutes once a day. Yep, those minutes will be a bit chilly in winter, but a dry house is healthier and easier to heat. Once you've closed 'em up again crank up your heating and it'll warm back up in no time.
If your house is particularly damp (i.e. if you notice a lot of condensation on the windows or walls) you might need to take more targeted action.
The first thing is to avoid putting moisture into the air if possible. Just breathing adds some moisture but don't stop doing that! But there are three main culprits, all of which are reasonably easily solved:
Make sure you have a good rangehood over your hob (and that you use it!), and keep lids on pots as much as possible when cooking.
Install a fan in your bathroom if there's not one already - if possible add it to the same circuit as the lights with a delay timer so it runs for a while to clear steam after a bath or shower.
3. Drying clothes
If possible, dry your clothes outside on the line. If you have a dryer, duct it! This is pretty easy to do - you can buy ducting kits from hardware stores and appliance stores, add a couple of hours of your time (or pay a handyman if you're able) and you're all sorted. Here's the bit I only learned recently - if you can't dry your clothes on the line outside you are better off putting them into a ducted dryer than hanging them on an airer inside. You'll likely use more energy getting the water out of your house than you would have done running the dryer.
|The small droplet symbol on the |
left shows it's on the right mode
Freestanding dehumidifiers are even better at drawing out the moisture, so if you're really struggling to keep the walls dry, buying or borrowing one of those and moving it around the rooms of your house should do the trick.
By all means if these things don't solve your problems maybe look into a ducted ventilation system - but please try the cheaper things first! You might be surprised. :-)
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Have you lived in a horribly damp house? Do you have any tips to add?