A recent article highlighted a key element of the German approach to fighting the coronavirus: that of opening windows regularly and frequently to allow fresh air to circulate in and out of a building. While a common practice in Germany, where buildings are commonly heated with boilers (which do not provide air circulation) and air conditioning is uncommon, this happens far less frequently in the US, where a lot of buildings are climate controlled.
While most windows in the US are designed to open and close, the fact remains that many Americans leave their windows closed, even when it might be seasonable enough to open them. There are a number of reasons for this, such as:
- more widespread use of air conditioning – many parts of the US have warmer weather than Germany, and buildings in those areas of the country use air conditioning (often a central system) to keep the structure cool
- the prevalence of forced air heating and cooling, which circulates air as part of the heating and cooling process and reduces the sense of “stale” air in a building
- traditionally lower energy prices, which have caused American consumers to be less concerned with using natural methods to cool homes and businesses
- concerns among home and business owners about burglary and vandalism – some home and business owners, even if they can open windows, choose not to do so for fear of attracting criminals
- many Americans are annoyed by insects (especially flying ones) in their homes and thus keep windows closed to prevent them from coming in
Would Americans consider opening windows to fight coronavirus? Possibly.
While using central air conditioning and keeping structures “buttoned up” have become rather ingrained among US consumers, the lower rates of infection due to COVID-19 in Germany (compared to the US) may spur some to not only open their minds, but also their windows, to the idea of using natural ventilation to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Indeed, with the CDC issuing revised guidance to Americans that calls attention to the fact the disease is mainly one that is transmitted indoors, bringing the outside in might be yet another way to stop its spread in the US.
For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in Construction and Building Products and topics such as Windows & Doors (and the related COVID-19 Economic Impact Report on the topic), US HVAC Equipment, Global HVAC Equipment, and Consumer Air Treatment Systems. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.