Why Weather Striping All windows is not a good option!
While all of us feel responsible about our environment and want to decrease our impact on the climate change by minimizing our carbon footprint, some of our actions are not helping both the environment and us! Sometimes we promote actions or take actions not seeing the bigger picture from a holistic point of view. What I have noticed in most articles, books such as True Green by National Geographic and other sources for promoting energy efficiency is about sealing and weather proofing all doors and windows by filling all the gaps and cracks! I do not believe that is a healthy or a good solution to help us save energy. Here are my three reasons, please feel free to write your reasons in the comments if you think I am wrong.
From energy point of view:
Although I passed the module of utility design (mechanical/electrical design of buildings) in architectural engineering course about twenty years ago, I still recall, we left some tiny gaps in/around windows for air circulation. It was definitely intentional! We calculated the volume of the fresh air coming through these gaps because we were thinking about the natural air circulation inside of a space. Think about it, if we close all the gaps around doors and windows, how fresh air can enter our spaces. Let me guess, buying an air conditioner/ air purifier to blow in fresh air!? Which one does it cost more energy? Having tiny gaps to provide us fresh air by natural ventilation or using an electric air-conditioner? I honestly do not know the answer in the short and long term. Maybe it has been calculated, if you know please leave it in the comments. We already know 31% of the heat loss is through the ceiling, walls and floors, so we need to insulate them. Not all draughts are unwanted draught. Yes, those that come from the gaps under the entrance doors are unwanted particularly if you live in condos and flat apartments; these gaps should be filled with the metal strip nailed to the threshold to fire-proof your door. Some gaps were designed and left by the engineers to help you have a natural air circulation in your space! If you close all the gaps to keep the heat inside and you do not have an air conditioner then at some point you need to open a window to have fresh air and then you lose way more energy via escape of the heated air from your windows.
From human comfort and health point of view:
When we breathe we use Oxygen and produce Co2 and moist. A conventional ventilation system which blows cold air into a room mixes with the existing room’s air and circulates around the mixture, results in a polluted air quality at the breathing level. We know lack of enough Oxygen can cause headache and sleepiness which decrease our work efficiency. Have you ever been woken up between 3 to 5 am in the morning? One possible reason can be the lack of fresh air, open a window a little bit and you can start breathing normally again. Not mentioning that if you are asthmatic or have hay fever, you wake up sneezing and coughing which is not pleasant when it happens often. Polluted air can cause allergy and asthma and make breathing difficult for children and elderly. Also lack of Oxygen in the long run can damage the brain cells. The best way is to have natural ventilation as it is necessary for human health and comfort.
Ventilation is essential to create a naturally
comfortable space and that is the primary reason of having windows. After all we need fresh air and Oxygen, this is the
most critical element and our vital need to stay alive so it is pretty
important to have access to it everywhere including home, work space, public
you can see from the below picture we intake Oxygen from
air and this is utilized by the human body and we release CO2 in return which
is consumed by plants so
having plants at home can purify the indoor air.
To be more specific you can refer to the NASA Clean Air Study which gives you a full list of plants that purify the indoor air. It also explain what kind of chemicals they filter.See some examples here
From Construction point of view:
We should also think about the buildings and know they breathe too. They need to breath in order to prevent Stack effect. All the water that is produced inside your home during the winter time is harmful to your building. Trust me you do not want to trap the moisture inside your spaces. The best way is to close all the holes from top to down by insulating your roofs and attics. The most important action is to air-seal any penetration in the ceiling first than closing holes in the walls or the floors! There are solutions to decrease the stack effect and airflow resistance to minimize the pressure on the buildings’ structure. Sometimes spaces contain too much moisture that using a dehumidifier seems the only possible solution to provide the human comfort standards. Surely dehumidifiers use electricity and spend energy to fix a problem we created it ourselves. When there are mechanical easy solutions to have natural ventilation, why should we buy air conditioners, dehumidifiers and other electrical equipment to get the same function and result by spending more energy and money (promoting consumerism)?
Weather stripping can cause condensation and therefore moulds. It causes a bigger temperature difference between in the indoor air (warm air) and outdoor air(cold air) which results in condensation. The new energy efficient material and construction techniques keep the cold air outside and keep the humidity inside. You see water on your windows in between the double/triple glazed glasses or on the inside surface running on the window ledge.
Toxic black mould or black mould (The ones you see in the corner of the window, sometimes in bathroom or on your walls) is a name commonly used for Stachybotrys chartarum. It is one of the most infamous toxic moulds because it can grow in houses and is extremely dangerous to humans. Stachybotrys is known as a toxic mould because it produces toxins called mycotoxins. Check the toxic black moulds symptoms; I promise you will be shocked! To prevent black moulds you need to open the windows to let the building dries out. Medical research has found links between mould, house dust mites and illnesses of the throat and lungs. The damp left by condensation will also damage plasterwork and timber windows. You don’t want to create a problem by weather stripping windows and then have to go through more expensive solutions(air purifies, mould removal and refurbishment, cracking windows, more heat loss,…) to solve the condensation, mould and your health problems. If you have proper natural ventilation, you will never have condensation and moulds. We shall be very careful with what we promote people do.we promote people do.
What can we do with the draughts then?
We can strip the larger gaps around entrance doors by using the thresholds, draught excluder, weather strips, dampers for chimneys, door snakes (door draft stopper). Remember there are little things you can do that counts in creating less waste and being more environmentally-friendly. For example, reuse and up cycle what you have at home such as pipe insulation, cardboard tubes, pool noodles and old socks to make a draft stopper ! It can be an interesting fun DIY project for your kids and keep them busy too! You can get good ideas from Pinterest. If you don’t know how to sew then look for draft stoppers DIY no sew. After all your health and well-being matter!
Thanks for reading this article and I hope you find it helpful. Please do reflect your thoughts and mention me of any other factors.