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Maintaining Optimal Indoor Humidity

 

Different Window Dressings for Different Requirements

 

I should be used to moving constantly, but recently, we decided to put down roots in our native Colorado. We bought a house under 2000 sq. ft., which, let me assure you, is not easy to find! We finally settled on a place in Briargate, in the spectacular Scotch Pine Drive, at once like a cottage, and at once a small ranch house – in the Prairie Style, organic architecture espoused by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was just the three of us, so I didn’t fancy the sprawling homes we saw all over – the maintenance would be killing! I loved the shallow peaked roof and regular windows – none of the exaggerated glamor of curved and peaked windows for me. Besides, I couldn’t have too much sunlight in the house, primarily because I am afflicted by jags of psoriasis. Though exposure to UV light was beneficial to this condition, the harsh sun aggravated the itch and flake. All the rooms had 4’ by 4’ windows, and the bedrooms had 3’ by 5’ casement windows. The entrance doors were glass doors, but I loved the symmetry provided by the top edges of the doors and windows being aligned, unlike what we’d seen in other houses. The beautifully matched oak floors, window and door frames and the staircase railings were features that caught my eye for detail. The master bedroom on the first floor opened into a 6’ by 8’ balcony that was propped on stilts arising from the patio out back.

 

 

HRV or ERV

Over the years, having used the traditional HVAC system has proved detrimental to my skin condition. Both the heating and cooling systems dried out my skin, and I’d had to resort to humidifiers in the house, increasing moisture levels within that was unacceptable, and in turn created problems of mold and bacterial growth that was difficult to manage.

 

 
A Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) uses the heat in the stale exhaust air to preheat the incoming fresh air, reducing the energy consumed to bring it up to ambient temperature. The stale air and fresh air doesn’t mix in the heat recovery process; they simply pass through separate channels in the ventilator core, allowing an exchange of heat through conduction. Although it requires the operation of a fan on a continual basis, the energy recovered from the inside air is many times that of the energy necessary for the fan. This system is considered seamless in the ventilation of sealed structures that constitute high-performance buildings.

 

 
The Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) also captures some of the humidity in the air to keep it on the same side of the thermal envelope that it came from. In winter, the system transfers the humidity from the air being extracted to the incoming fresh (and dry) air to help keep the ambient humidity level at a reasonable value (between 40 and 60%) at all times. In summer, the humidity transfer reverses and the humidity in the outside air are removed before it is injected into the home. This saves energy by reducing the load on the air conditioning system and/or dehumidifier. A high efficiency of humidity transfer would be around 70%, but this value depends on the actual humidity on either side of the envelope.

 

 
Optimal levels of humidity (40%) is critical to my skin condition, so I elected to have the ERV fitted into our home. In addition, I had fans installed in all the rooms, as I believe that mechanical ventilation and cooling/heating systems can be switched off for considerable amounts of time, and in summer, need hardly be used, especially here in Colorado Springs, with the temperature rarely rising above 30 C. Whatever the season, I like ventilating the home naturally, every day; in the heights of winter, too, the windows are left open a crack while I vacuum. Fresh air is critical to healthy skin, not to mention the respiratory system.

 

 
In all our previous homes, we’d made do with the existing window dressings, as Gerard’s Air Force job kept us shifting frequently. His having opted to become a Training Commander has given us the opportunity to put down roots. We’ve collected some valuable pieces of furniture and art over the years, and, but for redoing the cupboards or cabinetry to suit our style, the place is in excellent repair, and we have no other significant investments to make. We had a basement we wanted to convert into a rec room some time later – it was a project we’d left up to Josh, who has started school at the UCCS.

 

 

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Going to Town with the Window Décor

 

We had fabulous views from wherever we looked out of our new house – being located quite high, we could see the city from the side of the house, an excellent view of the undulating neighborhood and the mountains from the front, and a fabulous view of Pikes Peak from the back. I decided on the Shangri-La Shades for the living and dining areas and the landing windows. These exquisitely crafted shades are made of two layers of gossamer polyester fabrics enclosing fabric vanes that can be controlled much like blinds can be, allowing varying levels of light control and privacy, depending on the opacity of the fabric chosen. And I chose the light filtering fabrics as I loved the soft, muted view it provided, filtering the harsh mid-day sun to prevent any damage it could cause to my floor, furniture, artwork, and skin. And I didn’t need the voluminous yards of fabric that I would otherwise need to create the lush effects only drapes can provide. Besides, I could lift them completely out of the way when I left the windows open, to prevent any damage from leaving them fluttering in the breeze.

 
For the bedrooms, I’d decided on the Double Cellular Blackout Shades, for obvious reasons of insulation and light blocking; and Faux Wood Blinds for the kitchen, laundrette and bathrooms to control light and ensure that no damage could ensue due to the humidity of these areas.

 
Both the Shangri-La and Cellular Shades were made with poly blended materials that were GreenGuard and Microban Certified for good indoor air quality and repelling the growth of odor-causing bacteria and fungi. They were also given an antistatic treatment to repel dust, as were the faux wood blinds. I was now resolved into settling into am clean and efficient environment that hopefully wouldn’t play havoc with my skin.

 

 

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