Monday, February 5, 2018

Ventilation Diagnostic – 5 Ways to Check Your Bathroom Exhaust Fan

The ventilation of your home is a very important component of proper Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). If it is not working properly or is ineffective, it can lead to larger issues. Here are 5 ways you can insure your exhaust fans are operating properly:

1.    Sizing – A common error made when choosing an exhaust fan is the size or how much air does it move. This is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). A quick way to see if you have the right amount is to measure the length and width of your bathroom and times those numbers together. For instance a 10 foot by 10 foot bathroom is 100 square feet. The general rule is a minimum of 1 CFM per square foot. In our example you will need at least a 100 CFM exhaust fan. Typically there is a sticker inside your fan that lists the CFM. If not and you can locate the model number of the fan, you can use a directory such as HVI (hvi.org) to look-up the airflow. If the airflow of the fan is less than what is needed, you might want to consider replacing the unit. Note: there are other factors such as duct length, height of ceilings and more that can contribute to the airflow of the unit. For our purposes we are just concentrating on some simple ways to check.

2.    Obstructions – Once you have determined that the airflow of you fan is what it should be the next item to look at is obstructions. Depending on where your fan is exhausting to will determine how easy this is to do. First do a visual test. Do you see any debris in or around the wall or roof vent? Common obstructions are items like birds nests. If your vent has louvers, make sure they are working and are not frozen shut. CAUTION: if you need to use a ladder or climb on your roof, make sure to adhere to all safety measures to avoid injury.

3.    Cleaning – After checking for obstructions outside, it is now time to check inside in the form of dirt and debris build-up in the fan. The performance of your fan can be reduced if it is not properly maintained. If there is a build up of dirt or debris on the fan blades/blower you are probably not getting the full airflow. The good news is this is an easy fix. Follow the cleaning instructions in the user manual that came with your fan (or access them through the manufacturers website). Make sure to follow all safety precautions including turning off the power supply to the fan before starting.

4.    Living Test – We sometimes think we have to have some expensive piece of equipment or call an expert in to diagnose things. That is not the case with bathroom exhaust fans. There is a very simple test we will call the living test. Is your bathroom fan working the way you want it to? After you get out of the shower is the room full of steam for what seems an eternity? Does mold and mildew grow faster than you can clean it? These are some common signs that your fan might not have enough airflow to do the job. As listed above, you can try and see if it is an obstruction or it needs cleaning but you might want to consider increasing the airflow by replacing the unit. Even if you determine that the airflow of the fan matches the size of the room, different factors can be at play that might require a larger CFM fan.

5.    Function – When we talk about function, we are talking about two factors – mechanical and user. For mechanical, is the fan physically working? When you turn the fan on, does it operate? I think it goes without saying that if the fan is not operating, it either needs to be repaired or replaced. This might sound like a duh moment but we are always amazed how many times replacing an exhaust fan seems to be a secondary project. The second factor is the user. How many times have you used a bathroom without turning the fan on? We are not judging and forgiveness is available. The main reason people give for not using a bathroom exhaust fan is the sound. Even if the right sized exhaust fan is installed, if it isnt turned on because of the sound level, then it is as if there is no exhaust fan there at all. There are two ways to solve for that issue. One would be to replace it with a quieter model. Exhaust fans have come a long way and now, there are many models that operate at an almost silent level. A second way is to install either a humidity or occupancy sensor that will automatically turn the fan on and off taking control out of the hands of the occupants. That wont solve the sound issue, but it will ensure the fan is operating.

To learn more about ventilation, available exhaust fans and Indoor Air Quality, visit the Air King site at www.airkinglimited.com

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

As Advertised Ventilation - Backing Up Those Claims?

You see advertisements all over that make claims about everything from removing stains with one stroke to cars that get 10 times more miles per gallon of gas. Some of them are just downright funny and others leave you scratching your head about the validity of the claim. The ventilation industry is no different. Manufactures are constantly making claims regarding the performance of their products. The two main claims are for air movement – known as cubit feet per minute or CFM and sound levels known as Sones. The question is, how do you know you are getting what you are paying for? Is this just another one of those things where manufacturers make up numbers so they look good? There is hope and it is known as the Home Ventilating Institute or HVI.

HVI is an independent third party testing and certification lab that ensures advertised performance numbers are being delivered. HVI maintains a database of models that have been tested and certified in their facility and publishes this list each month on their website (you can view the list here). Products go through stringent testing for airflow, sound, and energy usage. Once a product is certified, it will display the HVI Certified logo on it. It is very simple from there – no logo or not on the list - not certified.

You might still have some doubts and a common question that arises is, once tested what is to prevent a manufacturer from changing the product? HVI has that covered. Products can be pulled at anytime and a verification test completed to make sure nothing has changed with the product. If the product fails, it will be removed from the directory until a suitable action plan can be put into place and the product delivers the advertised performance.

The next argument that comes up is, who is HVI, I have never heard of them, is this one of those pay-to-play organizations? The short answer is NO. HVI is the leader in ventilation certification and is recognized as the preferred method of performance assurance by the countrys top organizations including; ENERGY STAR®, ASHRAE Standard 62.2, California Title 24, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), RESNET, US Green Building Council LEED and many more. These organizations depend on HVI to certify and verify that the products meet the performance numbers they have set.

Unfortunately there are many manufacturers out there that do not have their products tested and certified. These product usually fall into the Too Good to be True category. While we cannot definitively say they are or are not living up to their advertised performance numbers we can say organizations such as ENERGY STAR will not recognize them. The best way to make sure your ventilation products will deliver as advertised is to look for the HVI logo.

To learn more about Air Kings HVI certified Exhaust Fans and Range Hoods, visit www.airkinglimited.com.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Have What It Takes to Be Most Efficient

As we come into the holiday season and homes are putting up decorations and lights (you are using energy efficient lights – right) it can be a time of holiday bliss. Then it can turn into holiday regret when the electric bills start rolling in (see, told you, should have used energy efficient lights). The holidays shouldnt be the only time to be looking at energy efficiency however.

Almost everyone in the United States is familiar with ENERGY STAR®. We see it everywhere. What many people are not aware of is that ENERGY STAR has a special category that recognizes the most efficient products within a product category for that year. Each year ENERGY STAR provides product performance criteria in order to be recognized. In the ventilation fan category, specifically bathroom and utility room fans they must operate at an 85% higher efficiency level than a standard model. This is measure in CFM/Watt (cubic feet per minute of air the fan moves divided by how many watts of energy needed to run the fan). ENERGY STAR has set the criteria at greater than or equal to 10 CFM/Watt. That means that a 100 CFM fan cannot use more than 10 watts of energy to operate.

Great, but what does this mean in real world numbers? Lets first look at the efficiency number of two 100 CFM fans. A standard – builder grade fan operates at about 1.4 CFM per watt. The Air King model D4S, an ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2017, operates at 15.6 CFM per watt when set to 100 CFM. Now lets take a look at what that means from an electric standpoint. For our purposes, we are going to say the exhaust fan runs for a total of 4 hours a day. The builder grade fan operating at 72 watts for 4 hours needs 288 watts per day. Times that by 365 and you get 105-kilowatt hours per year. Using that same equation the D4S only uses 9.3-kilowatt hours per year.

When needing to replace a fan, energy efficiency is a great starting place. Other factors to consider are sound levels, duct size, fan size and of course price is always going to play a part.

To learn more about the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient Fans visit www.energystar.gov/most-efficient/me-certified-ventilating-fans or the Air King site at www.airkinglimited.com

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

5 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Home’s Energy Usage

When you take a look around your home, there are probably some easy changes you can make to reduce your monthly energy usage, which will in turn reduce your monthly bills. Who doesnt want to save some money each month? Here are our top 5 tips:

Tip 1 – Use LED Lamps. Yes they do cost a little more than traditional bulbs, but the savings add up very quickly. The light output (measured in Lumens) of a 9 watt LED bulb is equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent lamp. That is 51 watts less in energy usage. Now lets assume you replace a main light in your home – one that might be on for 5 hours per day. That is a savings of 255 watts per day for just one light. Times that by 365 days and you get 93 kilowatt-hours. At an average of $.12 per kilowatt-hour that is a savings of $11.16 per year for one light bulb. ENERGY STAR® Certified LED light bulbs also last 5 to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Tip 2 – Adjust Your Thermostat. Turning your thermostat down 2 degrees in the winter or up two degrees in the summer can make a large impact. While this is a little harder to calculate than changing a light bulb to an LED, the savings can be significant and add up over the course of the year.

Tip 3 – Use a Programmable Thermostat.  Very similar to adjusting your thermostat is to install a programmable thermostat. The benefit of a programmable thermostat is that it will reduce your energy usage when you are not home. Even the most basic programmable thermostat will help you save by adjusting the temperature of your home up or down depending on if the home is occupied or not.

Tip 4 – Buy ENERGY STAR Certified Products. Look for the ENERGY STAR logo when you buy products such as TVs, Appliances, Heating and cooling systems and of course Bathroom Fans and Range Hoods. Now we are not saying you need to throw out all your household items and immediately buy new ones, but as the time comes to replace that old fridge, TV, etc. look at the benefits of ENERGY STAR certified products and compare the cost savings.

Tip 5 – Eliminate Vampire Power. Most people dont realize that many of the appliances and electronics in your home use standby power. The biggest users are devices like TVs, printers, microwave ovens and computers. Although the energy usage is small, when you add it up it can be significant. Using a power strip that can easily turn the power on or off to these devises is one way to avoid unwanted power usage.


To learn more about how you can save energy visit www.airkinglimited.com/page/climate-change.html or www.energystar.gov/campaign/home?s=mega to asses your homes energy usage.