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Blog/Opinion: Does ventilation cost or does it pay?

By HHI Staff

Does ventilation cost or does it pay? That is the debate HHI has been having with a few industry leaders from the home ventilation sector.


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The answer is yes - to both questions. 


Ventilation, using quality equipment in the right system, requires an investment. So, yes, ventilation costs.


Conversely, using the right equipment in a balanced system lowers operating costs, protects the structure from moisture, and helps prevent illnesses from poor indoor air quality.


Moreover, extrapolating from commercial data, studies suggest ventilation raises productivity and prevents illness.


According to research published in Indoor Air. 2004;14 Suppl 7:92-101 – The effects of indoor air quality on performance and productivity:


“It was shown in realistic experimental exposures lasting up to 5 h that the performance of simulated office work could be significantly increased by removing common indoor sources of air pollution, such as floor-coverings, used supply air filters and personal computers, or by keeping them in place and increasing the rate at which clean outdoor air was supplied…These short-term effects were demonstrated repeatedly even at pollutant levels that had no measurable effects on the perception of air quality by the occupants themselves.”


According to Bill Fisk, a highly-respected researcher with Lawrence Berkeley Labs:


Conclusions: Effects of Ventilation

  • Offices: Ventilation rates affect sick building syndrome symptoms, work performance and probably absence. Impacts of ventilation rates on chronic health risks are small.
  • Schools: Ventilation rates affect absence and school work performance. Impacts of ventilation rates on chronic health risks are small.
  • Homes: Empirical data too sparse for conclusions, but data suggest increase of adverse health effects at low ventilation rates. Impacts of ventilation rates on chronic health risks are moderate.   


Conclusions: Costs vs. Benefits of Ventilation



  • Value of health and performance improvements with increased ventilation rates far exceeds costs.


  • Limited data suggest that value of reduced absence with increased ventilation rate far exceeds energy costs


  • Insufficient data for conclusions
  • In California, energy costs of mechanical ventilation ~ $200,000 per avoided disability adjusted life year


So health should be the major driver to motivate people to install mechanical ventilation in their homes, but the savings are also apparently there.


So, yes, ventilation does cost, but it also pays.


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HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


While an effort is made to ensure the quality of the content and credibility of sources listed on this site, HHI provides no warranty - expressed or implied - and assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product or process disclosed on or in conjunction with the site. The views and opinions of the authors or originators expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of HHI: its principals, executives, Board members, advisors or affiliates.

(Note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The Healthy House Institute, LLC.)

Does ventilation cost or does it pay? :  Created on June 22nd, 2013.  Last Modified on June 22nd, 2013


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