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Note: The following information is intended as a general guide only. Seek specialist advice before making any change to your home.

Good ventilation is key to an optimal living environment in the hot New Zealand summer days. Without proper airflow, cooling isn’t as effective and the household is left dealing with things like pollutants and dust in the air. 

On this page, you'll learn things like:

  • Why a ducted ventilation system installed can make a big difference,
  • the benefit of a good air conditioning solution, and
  • why natural airflow in summer is one of the best ventilation options.

I need some air!

Ever been sitting in the lounge and suddenly noticed a huge amount of dust and particles floating around in the air as the sun pours in through the window? That stuff can consist of all sorts of things that you don’t really want to ingest. Even when you put on a fan at full blast – a lack of airflow through the space won’t get rid of this stuff. So as much as you focus on getting a cooling solution in place, make sure your ventilation solution is as equally effective. 

Benefits of a ducted ventilation system all year round

A ducted ventilation system is a permanent fixture in your home, consisting of vents in ceilings and/or walls, tubes and a filtration unit usually up in the ceiling. In a typical positive pressure system, the dry air from the roof cavity is filtered then pushed out through those vents around the house replacing the poorer quality air. This helps reduce or even eliminate moisture on windows and walls, helping to greatly reduce mould during winter.

But in summer time, which is what we’re covering in this resource, a ventilation system is still doing an important job. While there may not be the same level of dampness to combat, there is still that challenge of dusty, allergen-borne air. That same process of pushing filtered air through the home to replace the poor quality air can make the atmosphere much more pleasant to live in – and make cooling easier too. 

What’s required to get a ducted ventilation system in place?

A ventilation provider will need to come to your house and plan out the installation process – that means working out where the filter unit will go, and where the vents should all come out through the home to get maximum effect. If you have a home that is really hard to cool down in summer, make sure you tell the provider this as this may help them offer the best possible solution.

Once the positioning of the components are all confirmed, the installation process will involve cutting into your walls and ceiling, as well as fixing a filter unit to the cavity of the ceiling. Most installations will take no more than a day but this is something you’ll be told at the assessment stage. 

Common rooms that you’ll send filtered air to

Ventilation gets sent to the areas of the home most susceptible to moisture, dust or any other factor that compromises air quality. Where vents go depends on your home, but often you’ll see vents in:

  • Bedrooms
  • The living area
  • An internal part of the house such as a hallway
  • Kids play area
  • Office/study

Bathrooms usually have their own extractor fan designed for the intense periods of moisture like shower steam, so ventilation isn’t often piped into these spaces.  

Air filtration and purifying – free-standing units

If a permanent system is outside of the budget or just not possible (like when you’re renting a property), a free-standing unit might be a better option. And these aren’t ventilation products as such, but rather air quality filters. 

Air filtration and purifying units are plugged into the wall and depending on the product, offer a range of modes and options. They’re typically not too much trouble to move around the home, which is convenient when targeting specific rooms that need improved air quality. Some modern systems will come with an accompanying app which enables you to not only set timers and modes, but monitor the air quality around the unit as it does its job. 

Different air purifying equipment will filter the air differently so be sure to read exactly what it does - and doesn’t address.

These units can be expensive, especially those that are built to do the job well. You should also factor in the need to change the filter periodically (e.g. every year or 18 months). But if you want the flexibility of a portable unit that can be quickly set up in the baby’s room or your study to make the air nicer to breathe, an air purifying unit is worth checking out.

Making sure your kitchen extractor is fully functioning

We spend virtually every day cooking in the kitchen, with most of those days needing the overhead extractor on as we cook on the stove. When was the last time you checked the filters in your extractor hood? Go take a look now – we’ll wait!

Okay, welcome back – what were they like? Clean? Great! Covered in grease? You and thousands of others. The problem with dirty extractor hood filters apart from the gross realisation that all that grime can drip into your food as you cook (we know), is that clogged filters will push cooking steam out into the rest of the house. This hot steam carries tiny particles of whatever you’ve been cooking, heating up the rest of the home and getting in the way of clean, pure air flow. The last thing you want on a hot summer evening is the kitchen contributing extra heat to the house you’re desperately trying to cool down. 

So, take 15 minutes to remove the filters from your extractor fan, give them a good clean with dish liquid and a brush, rinse then leave to dry. Put them back in and be amazed and just how more effective your extractor fan is working. 

Some other parts of the extractor you should check is the fan (often strange whirring noise is a tell-tale sign of an issue), and the vent to the outside. A dirty vent could mean build up of material which can make the extractor less functional and even risky to operate.  

Natural ventilation and fresh air in summer – make the most of it!

Frequently opening up the entire home’s windows and doors is one of the most effective ways to ensure fresh air comes through – and it doesn’t cost you a cent. In the summertime you may wish to do this first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon/evening when you aren’t dealing with peak temps. It also reduces the amount of insects that will come in (although not entirely). 

Cleaner air with less particles of dust, dirt and pollutants is easier to control with your cooling option – and you’ll notice the difference straight away. 

Why you’d still have a quality heat pump/AC unit 

Ventilation is more about air quality and flow than it is about fast-acting cooling. While most modern ducted ventilation systems have a temperature control, this works gradually to achieve an average comfortable climate inside. A heat pump/air conditioning unit can quickly and efficiently blast cool air into a space with virtually instant results. So, set your ventilation temperature to the desired temp, but look to your heat pump (or pedestal fan) to do the heavy lifting on those sweltering days. 

Combining ventilation and heat pump together, a home’s air can be much more comfortable to live in. Ventilation prepares the air to be cooled faster and more efficiently. 

Useful links

Want to know more about the air in our homes? Check out these useful links: