The air can quickly become stale and humid when you’re stuck inside a small space for a long time.
For many reasons, you might have a closed or under-ventilated room in your home.
But there are plenty of ways to make your space feel less stifling without spending a fortune or making any changes visible to guests.
You can ventilate a closed room with no windows by installing a whole-house ventilation system, exhaust fans, ERV/HRV, an HVAC system, or wall fans. Then, switch on your dehumidifier to reduce the excess moisture.
This article highlights a few simple, low-cost DIY ventilation tips that will increase the air circulation in your home without spending too much money on specialist services or fixtures.
Install a Whole-House Ventilation System
Whole-house ventilation systems are designed to keep your home’s air flow consistent and healthy. These ventilation systems have vents that connect to ductwork that runs through your home.
Typically installed in new homes or during renovation, you can also retrofit them to existing homes.
Depending on which system you choose to install, the ducts can run in the ceiling, through the walls, or in separate rooms.
Whole-house ventilation systems aim at circulating the airflow around the entire home, including the rooms with no windows.
These systems fall into three broad categories:
- Exhaust ventilation systems – These systems are designed to create a low-pressure space inside the house.
- As a result, air from the surrounding environment seeps into the depressurized space through other openings in your home (e.g., ducts, cracks in the walls, the attic, and so on).
- Supply ventilation systems – These systems pressurize your home by drawing air from the surrounding environment.
- Supply ventilation systems push the stuffy air inside the building out through the chimney, cracks, and other openings.
- Balanced ventilation systems – These systems blend the properties of exhaust and supply ventilation systems. These are often called ERVs (Energy Recovery Ventilators) and HRVs (Heat Recovery Ventilators). We have an entire category section on ERVs, and HRVs that you can check out here.
- Instead of pressurizing or depressurizing the building, balanced ventilation systems feature two duct systems and two fans that draw in and expel equal amounts of air.
Whole-house ventilation systems are easy to install. They also consume less energy than air conditioning systems which is a great benefit.
On the downside, many do not filter out dust and other contaminants from the air before they get inside your building. For that, you would need to integrate it with an air conditioning system.
Adding a whole-house ventilation system is a relatively significant investment, but it’s likely to solve most airflow issues in your home.
Install an HVAC Unit
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems control the indoor climate in residential and commercial buildings.
They do this by supplying fresh air and expelling stuffy indoor air.
These processes cause a change in temperature, pressure, and humidity levels inside the building, which is what you want in your windowless room.
An HVAC system is an integrated system of mechanical and electrical components working together to manage indoor environmental conditions.
These days, the most common types of HVAC systems use heat pump technology and come as split systems, packaged units, and ductless units.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the most popular types of these HVAC systems:
- Duct-free systems – As the name implies, duct-free systems do not require those metal tubes dug into the walls of your home. They’re smaller, independent units that use smaller components and specialized equipment for greater efficiency, cleaner airflow, and simplified installation.
- Split systems – Split systems are HVAC systems that comprise two separate heating and cooling units. One unit sits outdoors, and the other is installed inside. The unit outside contains the compressor, which is the system’s workhorse. The two units are connected via refrigerant lines that transmit heat collected on the cool side of the system to the warm side.
- Hybrid systems – These systems are an energy-efficient option that is popular in colder climates and works by splitting the heating costs between gas and electricity.
HVAC units can get the job done. Unfortunately, they come at a cost – a single HVAC unit for a family home can easily exceed $1000 with the installation costs. ‘
If this is a deal breaker for you, the next item on the list might be a better fit.
For more information about heat pump heating and cooling, read our article on the subject, here.
Ventilate a Closed Room with Wall Fans
If you’re concerned about the sometimes jaw-dropping cost of installing HVAC and whole-house ventilation systems, you can always switch to a cheaper alternative.
While plenty of standing fans are available in the market, a wall fan is more functional because it doesn’t take up much space.
Wall fans are a great way to save money on your energy bills and reduce your air conditioning costs.
They’re also the perfect solution for homes that don’t have a lot of natural ventilation.
You can install wall fans in any room, but they’re especially useful in bedrooms or living rooms, where you spend most of your time.
Use a Dehumidifier To Remove Moist Air
You may not realize it, but high humidity can interfere with your body’s natural cooling systems.
Humidity is a measure of the amount of moisture in the air, and a high humidity level prevents sweat on your skin from evaporating, making it harder for your body to cool itself down.
The primary cooling effect comes from the heat the sweat takes from your body as it evaporates.
Sweat doesn’t evaporate so quickly in high humidity, which is why you feel clammy and uncomfortable in humid environments because your body produces sweat, but it stays on your skin rather than evaporating.
High humidity levels can also make you sweat more easily as your body tries to stay cooler.
It can lead to discomfort and even a running nose in some people and sometimes causes nausea if combined with high temperatures.
Other symptoms associated with high humidity include skin irritation, dehydration, asthma, etc.
On top of that, high humidity provides thriving conditions for bacteria, rust, and mold that could cause serious damage to your property and impact your health.
Since dehumidifiers work by removing the excess moisture from the atmosphere, getting one to keep yourself cool can make quite a difference.
For more information about lowering your home’s humidity, please read our article that looks at 14 ways to achieve this without using a dehumidifier.
Try an Indoor Plant
Indoor plants are a great way to make your home feel more spacious and abundant.
These plants benefit indoor spaces by brightening the place up and promoting well-being by bringing nature inside.
Some evidence from laboratory tests shows that they naturally filter out toxic elements from the air and produce clean oxygen.
These effects might not be significant in a home environment, but I like to have plants in my rooms because they look good. And if they marginally improve my home’s air quality, that’s a bonus.
Some of the best plants to use are:
- Areca Palm – Areca palms are known for removing formaldehyde, a VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) commonly found in homes. The areca palm loves humidity, so place it in a humid spot.
- Snake Plant – Snake plants thrive in low light, so they are a great option if you don’t have a sunny window.
- Cast Iron Plant – These plants are known for surviving almost anywhere in your home. They survive in low-light conditions, including poorly lit rooms with no windows. They’re also easy to maintain, with the only requirement being to keep away from direct sunlight.
The good news is that you don’t need a green thumb to grow these little beauties – they’re super easy to care for as long as you understand their lighting and watering needs.
However, ensure the plant gets at least two hours of sunlight each day.
Poor indoor air quality can pose serious threats to the health of occupants, so you must take steps to improve it.
Stuffy air in closed spaces is often polluted with dust mites, mold spores, and carbon dioxide from breathing.
These contaminants can trigger allergies, infections, and other serious conditions when left untreated. Fortunately, there are a few ways to improve your indoor air quality.
Opening doors throughout the day, even if only for a few minutes, will allow fresh air to move in and out of rooms freely.
Open the windows in adjacent rooms when it’s nice outside and then close them when it’s rainy or cold.
Fresh air isn’t just healthy; it also helps to regulate humidity levels in small rooms. Opening windows and doors is a great way to flush out stale air and introduce fresh air.
To properly assess the air quality in a space, it is important to install an air quality monitor.
These devices are usually connected to a computer system and are used to track carbon dioxide levels, temperature, humidity, CO, VOCs, and oxygen within the space.
Indoor air quality monitors can diagnose problems with indoor air quality and help determine the best course of action to fix the problem.
Depending on the type of monitor you install, you can also be alerted when air quality levels become unhealthy and pose a risk to the health of individuals in the space.
The best air quality monitors can be installed in individual rooms and can be programmed to sound an alarm when certain thresholds are exceeded.
Air purifiers equipped with High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are a great way of improving indoor air quality.
HEPA filters can remove dust and other particles under 0.3 micrometers.
Use HEPA filters to remove solid contaminants from indoor air and activated carbon filters to remove organic compounds.
One of the most common causes of poor indoor air quality is water. Wet surfaces inside the room can cause gradual damage when the water evaporates and condenses in tiny cracks.
Excessive moisture promotes the growth of harmful mold and bacteria, which puts you and your family at risk of respiratory tract conditions, particularly if you suffer from allergies or asthma.
Keeping the indoor space well-maintained and dry can help mitigate the risk posed by water.
You might spend a lot of time in your small enclosed room, and if that’s the case, you’ll know it can sometimes get stuffy and unpleasant without sufficient ventilation.
The most important thing to remember is to keep the air moving.
A fan, HVACs, or home ventilation systems are the most efficient ways to achieve this.