Thursday, December 13, 2007

Radon, Mold and Energy

A bit more on radon. There are two conflicting goods here. Radon is controlled in homes by adding ventilation.

But modern homes are designed to be tight in order to save energy. These two goods are in direct conflict. You can either reduce radon and increase energy use, or vice versa.

Can not do both at the same time. At least not very easily.

On new construction there are some options. Before the slab and foundation are poured a plastic sheet can be laid down that prevents gasses like radon from seeping into the basement. That is probably the ideal solution.

But most of us don't have that option. There are ways to seal a basement from the inside, but I don't claim to know how well they work with radon. These products are mainly aimed at keeping out water. Sometimes they work and sometimes not. With radon? I don't know, but I doubt it.

One additional point. Tight houses do save energy. A lot of energy. But radon is not the only problem with tight houses. There is also mold to consider. Mold grows best in homes that have little air movement.

I suggest if you do live in a tight house to keep the windows open as much as possible, and to keep a dehumidifier running in the basement, even if your basement seems dry enough.

Running the air conditioner in the summer also helps prevent mold, but again you are wasting a lot of energy and costing yourself money.

If your goal is to have a healthy house and to be environmentally sensitive, use fans and keep the windows open in the summer, and use a dehumidifier in the basement in the winter. Keeping the temp low in the winter will also slow mold growth, and save you energy and money.

It is a balancing act. You can not have all of the different goods you might want. You can reduce radon but raise energy costs. You can save energy but have more mold and radon risk.

Each person has to decide what he values.

No comments:

Blogging Fusion Blog Directory Blogging Fusion Blog Directory