7 Ways to Optimize Air Flow

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June 16, 2015

A big part of summer life is finding ways to stay cool. One of the most obvious and easiest ways to do this is with air conditioning. But air conditioning gets expensive and pumping cold air into your house through furnace vents doesn’t mean all that cold air will spread throughout the house. What you want to do is increase air flow to move cool air throughout the house. This will keep your house cooler and help cut energy costs.

There are other benefits of increased air flow. It helps keep the air in your house clean, and cycles out dust, pollutants, and other impurities. It can also help prevent mold throughout the house.

Here are seven ways you can increase air flow and save money at home.

  • Unblock and clean vents. Since air from your heating and cooling (HVAC) system(s) flows through furnace vents, if those vents are blocked by furniture or obstructed by debris, they won’t optimally allow air into the house. Go around your house, check all the vents, and make sure they are free of obstructions and debris. Vacuum registers regularly to remove any dust buildup.


  • Clean or replace your air filter. The air filter in your HVAC system prevents dust and pollutants from getting into the unit. But a dirty air filter reduces air flow – and the unit’s efficiency. Clean your air filter every month to ensure your HVAC unit is working to its fullest capacity. Once every season, replace your old air filter with a new one. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5% to 15%.


  • Open it up. If you are not using air conditioning, opening doors and windows is the easiest and most effective way to increase air flow in your home. An opening the size of a window or door allows a large amount of air to circle throughout your home. But opening one door or window alone won’t get the job done. Open several so that the air begins to move into and out of the multiple spaces.


  • Turn on fans. Fans are, of course, a great way to get air moving in your home. When combined with open windows, they can work to increase natural air flow. Window fans are the most effective type. They are large, and because they work in combination with an open window, it combines the effects of both the open window and the fan.


  • Install an exhaust fan. While regular fans blow air away from themselves, exhaust fans suck air back toward – and behind – themselves. The most common locations for exhaust fans are in the kitchen and bathrooms that are susceptible to the build-up of moisture and heat. A good exhaust fan will suck that warm, moist air out of the room and push it out of the house.


  • Install an attic fan. Because they are at the top of the house, attics trap hot moist air – especially in summer. That air can warm the house and also cause damage to the attic floors, ceilings below the attic, and walls in the house. An attic fan sucks this hot, stagnant air out of the attic and your home, helping to cool the entire house while relieving it of potentially harmful air.


  • Seal ducts. In houses with forced – air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. Studies have shown that up to 30% of the air that moves through ducts is lost through leaks and holes in the ducts. This means you’re wasting energy – and cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter. Check the air ducts for leaks. Most heating and cooling contractors can repair ductwork.

If you reside in a 1-4 unit home, sign up for a Home Energy Assessment to see if you are eligible for no–cost air sealing of leaks in drafty areas of your home.

Even by optimizing air flow, you may still need to find ways to cool your home on particularly hot days. Find more tips in the articles “How to Get the Most out of Your House Fans” and “How to Replace Your HVAC Filter”.

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