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Personal: Residential

Cooling and Ventilation Equipment –
Ventilators and Fans

Without a mechanical ventilation system, the amount of fresh air that enters a home is largely a matter of chance. New construction techniques and materials have led to homes that are more tightly built – making proper ventilation all the more critical. If ventilation systems are poorly installed or are being used improperly by the homeowners, the result can be excessively high indoor humidity levels, "stuffy house syndrome," and window condensation in colder weather.

Depressurization – resulting from uncontrolled ventilation – is an even more serious potential problem. Often bathroom or utility fans and kitchen exhaust fans all compete with the home's occupants for fresh air. If more air is exhausted than can leak into the house naturally, the resulting lowered pressure can cause toxic combustion gases to be released from unsealed heating and cooling systems into the house.

Three options to increase ventilation or air flow in the home:

Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems

These systems allow homes to maintain high indoor air quality without excessive additional energy costs. As shown in the diagram below, a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) consists of two separate air-handling systems – one collects and exhausts stale indoor air; the other draws in fresh outdoor air and distributes it throughout the home.

Components of a Heat Recovery Ventilator

Components of a Heat Recovery Ventilator

Air exchange

The HRV system can change all the air in the house over a three-hour period. Most HRVs are also equipped with automatic humidity sensors that increase the ventilation rate when needed – for instance, when you use the shower. Exhaust air is normally collected from the kitchen and bathroom areas, where most moisture and odours are created.

To ensure that fresh air is supplied to all living areas:

  • For homes that have forced-air heating – the HRV is usually connected to the heating system ductwork. This requires running the furnace fan continuously to distribute fresh air throughout the house, increasing operating costs. However, the improvement in air quality is significant.
  • For homes that don't have forced-air heating – the HRV is connected to a specially installed network of small-diameter fresh-air ducts.

More information on heat recovery ventilators

Ventilating Fans

Residential Ventilating Fan: A ceiling or wall-mounted fan (with or without a light source) or remotely mounted in-line fan, designed to be used in a bathroom, utility room or a kitchen range hood, to move objectionable air from inside the home to the outdoors. ENERGY STAR® qualified ventilating fans use, on average, 65 percent less energy than standard models. Because of better blade design, they move more air with less noise and their high-performance motors last longer.

Energy StarSpecific products that can qualify for ENERGY STAR include:

  • range hoods
  • bathroom fans
  • utility fans
  • in-line fans

Criteria for ENERGY STAR Qualified Ventilating Fans

Product Airflow Minimum Efficacy Level Maximum Sones*
Range Hoods Up to 14.2 m3/min
(500 cfm)
0.08 m3/min
(2.8 cfm) per watt
Bathroom and Utility Room Fans .3 to 2.3 m3/min
(10 to 80 cfm)
0.04 m3/min
(1.4 cfm) per watt
Bathroom and Utility Room Fans 2.5 to 3.7 m3/min
(90 to 130 cfm)
0.08 m3/min (2.8 cfm) per watt 2.0
Bathroom and Utility Room Fans 4.0 to 14.2 m3/min
(140 to 500 cfm)
0.08 m3/min
(2.8 cfm) per watt
In-line Ventilating Fans Any 0.08 m3/min

(2.8 cfm) per watt
Not Applicable

* a sone is a measure of how loud the fan is when in operation - the lower the number, the quieter the operation.

If the fan contains a light fixture, the total lamp wattage must not exceed 50 watts. The use of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) is recommended. Fans with a night light must have a light bulb that consumes 4 watts or less. A minimum of a one-year warranty is required. ENERGY STAR qualified ventilating fans may also have sensors, heaters, and timers.

Manufacturers of ENERGY STAR qualified cooling products.

ENERGY STAR technical specifications for ventilating fans

Ceiling Fans

A non-portable device designed for home use that is suspended from the ceiling for circulating air via the rotation of fan blades. Some ceiling fans also have an integral or attached light-kit. Controls can be in the form of a pull chain, slide switch, wall switch/panel or remote control.

Energy Star SymbolENERGY STAR qualified ceiling fans move air up to 20 percent more efficiently than standard ceiling fans. ENERGY STAR specification defines fan airflow efficiency on a performance basis: cubic foot per minute of airflow per watt of power consumed by the motor and controls.

If your ENERGY STAR qualified ceiling fan doesn't include lighting and you wish to add it, be sure to purchase an ENERGY STAR qualified light kit. These kits come with either pin-based compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or screw-based CFLs. This lighting is more efficient than standard incandescent lighting and long lasting, so you won't have to make frequent bulb changes.

Criteria for ENERGY STAR Qualified Ceiling Fans

Fan Speed Minimum Airflow Efficiency Requirement
Low 35.4 m3/min (1250 cfm) 4.4 m3/min (155 cfm) per watt
Medium 85.0 m3/min (3000 cfm) 2.8 m3/min (100 cfm) per watt
High 141.6 m3/min (5000 cfm) 2.1 m3/min (75 cfm) per watt

Manufacturers of ENERGY STAR qualified cooling products

Ceiling fan operating tips

  • Fans should be installed with the blades at least 30 centimetres (cm) below the ceiling, 200 cm from the floor and 60 cm from the nearest wall.
  • Air should be moved downward from the ceiling in the summer to provide a cooling breeze on the room occupants.
  • If the fan is used in the winter, air should be moved upward towards the ceiling to disperse the warm air that tends to accumulate there and distribute it more evenly in the room.
  • During the summer, switch the fan and light off when you leave the room. Fans don't actually cool a room, they just cool you by circulating air.

The ENERGY STAR name and the ENERGY STAR symbol are registered trademarks of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and are used with permission.

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