Open the Windows, Feel the Breeze, and Welcome Natural Ventilation

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You’ve seen princesses opening windows in the morning while singing a cheerful song. Lovers open their windows to see their significant other waiting on the sidewalk. Some take a deep breath and put on a Cheshire-Cat smile. It’s time to see these scenes through a different lens. That lens is ventilation.

Ventilation is welcoming outdoor air into the indoor environment. The purpose is to keep the indoor air “clean” or less diluted of the particles that have been trapped inside the space. Through this exchange, pollutants in the indoors are diluted and removed to be healthier for living.

One way to ensure the exchange of outdoor and indoor air is by opening the windows. It’s basic, and it doesn’t cost much. It’s cost-effective for people who don’t have a hundred bucks to spare and those living in small apartments.

But First: What About Purifying the Air?

Purifying is different from ventilating. What air purifiers do is rid the indoor air from bacteria, smoke, allergens, and odors, among many things. They suck in the air, process it through multiple filters that trap microns, and release cleaner air into the environment.

Indoors, there’s a huge chance it can heighten your protection from the virus that causes COVID-19, for example. While filters in these purifiers are known to filter 0.3 micron, they are just as effective at capturing 0.01 micron—the size of the COVID-19 virus.

So, what about purifying the air? It helps, but it’s not the elixir. As far as researchers are concerned, the best course of action to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus is staying at home, social distancing, and washing your hands for 20 seconds. Nevertheless, they are a huge contributor for a healthy indoor quality by taking out particles that can give you other ailments.

Ventilation by Opening the Windows

Ventilation sure sounds easy, but there are several components because outdoor air is not necessarily free of pollutants. It’s something that has increased in importance since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The virus, while primarily transmitted by contact, can travel in the air within six feet of the carrier. This is why supermarkets place the stickers on the floor six feet apart and “social distancing” is a thing. Without good ventilation, the virus can stay alive in open air for more than six feet.

There are elements like ventilation rate, airflow direction, and air distribution. Not to mention there are different ways of ventilation such as mechanical, hybrid, and natural. Opening the windows is a natural way of ventilation. However, it does not automatically constitute “good ventilation,” but it’s a good start.

The Ways of Natural Ventilation

woman opening the window

Natural ventilation uses thermal buoyancy to its advantage. When the wind finds its way into the open window, it circulates within the room and exits to another open space. The wind, when it enters, is cooler and warmer when it exits.

Because hot air rises, it exits a window at the upper part of the space. If your apartment has a clerestory window, or a window situated at a higher part of the wall, this could serve as the exit point of the warm air.

This isn’t to say that you need a clerestory window to achieve natural ventilation. You can welcome wind from one side of the house, allow it to circulate and then find its way to another opening at the opposite side of the house. This is called cross ventilation, and it relies on the direction of the wind.

Sometimes, small apartments only have windows on one side of the room because of the lack of space. Single-sided ventilation works, too. As the air will enter and exit through the same window, physics would determine that the indoor air would need stack effect, turbulent diffusion, and aerodynamics. These are related to the mass, temperature, momentum, and other topics in thermodynamics.

Use an Electric Fan

The might little stand fan at home helps with air circulation in your space. The key is to position them wisely. To make your space cooler, situate the fan near the window but only turn it on when it’s colder outside. Otherwise, the fan will blow the heat from the outside towards your room. If you have an extra fan, use it at the opposite side of the house, pointing to an exit. This will push the hot air out of the room.

Natural ventilation is energy-efficient, but you also have to make sure that you’re cleaning the air inside your apartment. So, it helps to have ventilation and air purifying go hand-in-hand in promoting a good indoor quality and breathing in “fresh air” despite being indoors all the time.

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