As we approach the time where installers are deliberating on how to implement new guidance to abide by new Building Regulations, specifically on trickle vents, the debate about rules, what you can or cannot do, is going to heat up, with all sides having some skin in the game.
So over the next few weeks, my own advice is to try and cut through the noise and vested interests and listen to what actually matters and what the rules are. Do what is needed to ensure your business follows the rules.
Aside from that, and if we take a wider view of the whole debate, there is absolutely a very valid discussion to be had around ventilation and how our industry can play a part.
Ventilation must be increased
Consider the road construction-based trades have been on over the past couple of decades. We have all been told to make our products and our buildings as insulated and warm as possible. Loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, floor insulation, new energy-efficient boilers, new energy-efficient windows and doors and even more than that. We have all been doing as much as we can to block up every hole, every gap, all in the aid to keep people and their homes as warm as possible.
It’s a noble and logical thought. Warmth requires heating and heating costs money. So why not make homes require as little heating as possible to save money? It’s only becoming more obvious, and certainly so due to the pandemic, that ventilation actually plays a vital role in keeping a house and those within it healthy.
Problem is, we live in Britain. The weather is garbage for a large portion of the year which leaves most of the population disinclined to ventilate. We’re not a country blessed with the weather that makes you want to throw open the windows and doors and let the outside in.
Nevertheless, if we are going down this path of increased energy efficiency and better airtightness then we are all going to have to talk about ventilation in our homes. We have to. If you are in sales like I am and you go to see clients in their own homes you will no doubt have come across increasing cases of dampness and mould in homes. Generally in the corners of bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens and usually fairly close to the windows. In those cases, I always ask the client how often they open their windows. They nearly always say never. That is what we’re dealing with.
Whether it is security concerns, apathy or weather excuses, we have a population that is averse to ventilating their homes.
Why is there such a problem?
Trickle vent makers will tell you that installers need to simply explain the benefits of trickle vents. If it was that easy, we wouldn’t even be talking about this. The industry is split heavily too. I have had tweets from system companies who are less than enthused about them, shining light on the money invested to make their profiles as efficient as possible. I feel fabricators are split on the issue, and the vast majority of installers are just not for them.
So why is there such a problem? Ask installers and they will tell you that their aversion to them is driven by the loathing of them by homeowners. Ask fabricators and they’ll tell you installers just do not like them. And so on and so on.
Putting my consumer-facing hat on, and speaking from experience, homeowners tell me they don’t like them because they cannot stand how they look. Many cannot accept any advantages they bring because of how they look. I live in a new-build and all my windows have them on. Looking at the ones I have, I find myself unable to disagree with my clients. They’re unedifying, cheap-looking and unsightly.
Herein lies the problem, but also the solution to breaking down a barrier and starting the ventilation conversation more purposefully. If the industry can start to produce better-looking trickle vents, then we will start to see things change. Yes, there are some concealed trickle vent products out there, but not everyone uses them. Our industry needs to commit some time and money to the R&D of a range of high quality, aesthetically minimal, noise-resistant and air-tight vents that window systems can adopt across the board. You do that and I can guarantee you that the perception of trickle vents with the public will start to change.
Here’s the good news. We have all the tech and money we need to be able to do it. Our industry has the right minds, the money after a bumper two years, and the tech such as 3D printers to experiment and test until we come up with a product that will unlock the resistance to additional ventilation.
Our industry, as well as others, do have to start talking more about ventilation and what role we can play in making homes more energy-efficient but also more healthy. And that conversation extends to more than just trickle vents. Educating clients about the benefits of cleaner, fresher air inside a home is something we’re all going to have to do if the road Building Regulations are on continues. We will have to move beyond resisting progress and learn to work with what is changing. Something our industry is generally always allergic to.
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I have to agree wholeheartedly with this. Many of the homes we have in this country are old housing stock and not designed for modern living. The more you insulate these homes the more you must ventilate to keep a healthy indoor environment. We need a combined approach to educate the homeowners on the benefits of ventilation including simple facts such as fresh air being cheaper to heat than moisture laden stale air and as an industry we need to develop products homeowners are happy to buy. It feels ironic that so many people go to the gym and eat… Read more »
Paul is correct.
The educational materials and operating instructions for your windows that will now be required to be given to each dwelling owner after the 15th of June will help with this. In addition to the confidence that the new certification and checklists outlining compliance to the building regulations will all play their part in promoting demand for new windows.
The issue surely is about aesthetics. I buy uPVC windows because they look good and last and are virtually maintenance free. Adding trickle vents really made the products ugly but also can be left shut. We do not have trickle vents in our windows but we chose to have some open just slightly for yes you guessed it ventilation.
The consumer will be forced to have trickle vents but that does not mean they will be opened!!! so what is the point. Let the consumer suffer with mould etc as it is their choice surely.
With the new operating manuals that installers will have to provide to the occupiers on each installation which includes the educational information on the reasons for the provision of background ventilation education should be addressed for opening then?
Plus the new generation of trickle vents that are half the size, with very low air leakage performance and only available in any colour or wood grain you want that match your profile they are now camouflaged?
Now you get everything you want?
Virtually every window that is fitted in the UK currently comes with a night vent setting on every opener already – and homeowners rarely use (or even remember) those.
Now they are going to be forced to pay for trickle vents which they don’t want, which are unsightly, flimsy, cheap looking, draughty(!) spider web traps and noisy – and which will also not be used!
I’m afraid the logic of this defies me . . . . . . . .
Mike I think you need to assess the latest generation designs of vents. Available in any colour you want 50% smaller with the same performance Very low air leakage (not draughty unless open? Have efficient insect grilles Acoustic noise reductions of up to 52 DB n,e,w for a 2500 EQA vent Installers will have to leave operating instructions for the windows they fit including educational materials for the need for background ventilation…….so more than the 29% of occupants that were interviewed as part of the development of these new regulations who knew what a trickle vent was and how to… Read more »
“Ventilation must be increased” ? Who are we to dictate to anyone else how they should live their lives and ventilate their homes? We should provide sufficient window openings and it is up to the consumer to use them as they see fit. If we impose trickle vents on customers and they don’t want to use them they will block them off! It is a crazy situation. “We know what’s best for you” – that’s how Command Economies (i.e. China, North Korea) work. There is a proper and reasonable place for giving advice, but in a free and democratic society… Read more »
The new educational materials that must be given to the occupants by installers on every installation will increase the usage rate of background ventilation. Covid has just demonstrated the need for good background ventilation. There is also no place to dictate that occupants shouldn’t be given the choice to use a safe and secure provision of background ventilation, where there is already a hole in the wall and where the window is which has the lowest U value of any other element of the building fabric at 1.4 or as will be 1.2? Thats why they have the choice to… Read more »