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Community and Q&A

When am I allowed to open windows?

DennisDipswitch | Posted in General Questions on

Opening windows…is this permitted anymore? Most houses have ’em. Are we allowed to use them anymore?

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Q. "When am I allowed to open windows?"

    A. Any time you want. Opening windows makes the most sense when the outdoor temperature is between 60 degrees F and 85 degrees F.

  2. albertrooks | | #2

    "Opening windows makes the most sense when the outdoor temperature is between 60 degrees F and 85 degrees F."'

    I'm looking forward to those temperature ranges. It's been a long, wet, dreary winter. Opening windows sound great.

    Bring on the bugs!

  3. Expert Member

    Dennis, your question brings up some interesting themes. There has always been a tension in the energy efficient housing movement over where humans fit in. It could be argued that the failure of many of the "80s solar houses was that their design was more about supporting the house's temperature equilibrium than being a vessel to support their occupant's lives - and it would be a sorry state if we repeat that mistake. I'd hate to think twice about whether to open a window. I do it all the time. Especially now the birds are back and in full song.

  4. Siffe | | #4

    Martin, does the same apply to an unfinished, uninsulated walk-out basement with one wall fully above grade in zone 5A (bordered on all sides by zone 4A)? Could be 10F and dry or humid in winter, 80F and dry or humid in summer.

  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    When I wrote that a homeowner can open a window "any time you want," that doesn't mean that you have to open the windows if you don't want to.

    If the outdoor air is hot and humid, and if the concrete walls of your walk-out basement are cold, why would you want to open the windows?

  6. Siffe | | #6

    Martin: either to warm up the basement, or air it out :-) Certainly wouldn't want to cool it down in the winter, but likely will have an exhaust fan for getting rid of stale air. That will bring air through openings which is considerably colder than the basement.

  7. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #7

    Ventilating when the outdoor air is dry rarely causes problems (other than the obvious energy penalty when the outdoor temperature is very low or very high) -- whether you ventilate with a fan or with an open window.

    Ventilating during hot, humid weather is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. Bringing in hot, humid outdoor air won't cause any problems (a) if you house has no air conditioning, and (b) if your house is above grade and has no basement.

    But if you have cold basement walls, or air conditioning ducts, you have cold surfaces in your house where the humid air can condense.

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