You might ask, what does carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning have to do with energy efficient homes? Great question! Well, just like any other home, this colorless, odorless, tasteless and highly toxic (deadly) gas is also a problem in energy efficient homes. In fact, the problem could potentially be even worse in such homes.
First, let’s take a closer look at how CO is produced what happens if it’s breathed in.
One of the ways that carbon monoxide is produced is from incomplete combustion. Incomplete combustion occurs when there is not enough oxygen for the fuel (such as gas) to completely react. If a fuel completely reacts, carbon dioxide and water are the main bi-products. One example of incomplete combustion that can occur in our homes is from a furnace that is poorly maintained and not properly tuned. Other sources include water heaters, fireplaces, space heaters, stoves and ovens.
In general, the threshold of danger to humans varies to a small degree; depending on your activity level, pre-existing conditions, such as heart disease and blood disorders, age, etc. Exposure to CO may significantly shorten our life spans due to damage to the heart. Here are some general symptoms to carbon monoxide exposure:
So as you can see, carbon monoxide poisoning is nothing to fool around with. It can be very deadly. Some of the problems that make things even worse are that it is often mis-diagnosed by the victim as only being the flu because the symptoms are so similar. Another problem is that poisoning can easily occur without notice while we’re asleep.
There are a few things which you can do as a homeowner to help protect yourself from this poisonous gas. First, INSTALL CARBON MONOXIDE MONITORS in your home! They are proven life savers. How many depends on the size and design of your home. The number of monitors and placement of them will be outlined in the instructions of the unit(s) you buy. I personally recommend one unit per floor. Second, keep all appliances that utilize combustion for operation in tip-top condition. This includes furnaces, water heaters, stoves, ovens, dryers, fireplaces, etc. Have such items inspected annually by a licensed professional.
So, after all this, I still haven’t answered the question, “what does carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning have to do with energy efficient homes?” The answer is…efficient homes are usually more air-tight, and the more air-tight a home is, the greater chance for CO levels to build-up quickly and at higher concentrations should there be a problem with an appliance. So what’s the final answer? Build an air-tight home (which includes remodeling), have all your combustion appliances professionally maintained, and INSTALL CARBON MONOXIDE MONITORS!