Obvious Ventilation Controls


Function of ventilation controls is obvious (e.g., bathroom exhaust fan) or, if not, controls have been labeled
Function of ventilation controls is obvious (e.g., bathroom exhaust fan) or, if not, controls have been labeled

Ensure that ventilation controls are identified. If the identity of the switch controlling the ventilation fan isn’t obvious, then identify in one of the following ways:

  • Install a switch that is differentiated or labeled by the manufacturer.
  • Install a permanent label indicating the function of the control.

See the Compliance Tab for related codes and standards requirements, and criteria to meet national programs such as DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home program, ENERGY STAR Certified Homes, and Indoor airPLUS.


Ventilation controls can sometimes look like ordinary light switches. Exhaust fan and other ventilation controls should be permanently labeled as such, unless their function is obvious or they are labeled by the manufacturer.

For more on exhaust fans controls, see Continuously Operating Ventilation and Exhaust Fans.

How to Label Ventilation Controls

  1. Clearly label the ventilation controls (exhaust fan switch) or install controllers that are clearly labeled by the manufacturer.

Ventilation control clearly labeled by installer

Figure 1 - The ventilation control is clearly labeled by the installer. Reference

Figure 2. The ventilation control is clearly indicated by the manufacturer

Figure 2 - The ventilation control is clearly indicated by the manufacturer. Reference

Ensuring Success

The HERS rater should inspect to ensure that ventilation controls are clearly labeled, unless their function is obvious (for example, a bathroom exhaust fan).


No climate specific information applies.


Right and Wrong Images

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CAD Images

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ENERGY STAR Certified Homes

ENERGY STAR Certified Homes (Version 3/3.1, Revision 08), Rater Field Checklist

7. Whole-House Mechanical Ventilation System

7.2 A readily-accessible ventilation override control installed and also labeled if its function is not obvious (e.g., a label is required for a standalone wall switch, but not for a switch that’s on the ventilation equipment).

ENERGY STAR Revision 08 requirements are required for homes permitted starting 07/01/2016.

DOE Zero Energy Ready Home

Exhibit 1: Mandatory Requirements. Certified under ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes Version 3.

More Info.

Contributors to this Guide

The following Building America Teams contributed to the content in this Guide.

Case Studies

None Available

References and Resources*

  1. Author(s): ASHRAE
    Organization(s): ASHRAE
    Publication Date: January, 2013

    Standard defining the roles of and minimum requirements for mechanical and natural ventilation systems and the building envelope intended to provide acceptable indoor air quality in low-rise residential buildings.

  2. Author(s): DOE
    Organization(s): DOE
    Publication Date: May, 2015

    Standard requirements for DOE's Zero Energy Ready Home national program certification.

  3. Author(s): EPA
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: September, 2015

    Document outlining the program requirements for ENERGY STAR Certified Homes, Version 3 (Rev. 08).

Building Science-to-Sales Translator

HVAC Controls/Programmable Thermostat =
Advanced Comfort Control Technology

Technical Description: 

Homeowners with advanced comfort control technology are able to save energy and money by programming their heaters and air conditioners to drop to a cooler or warmer temperature during consistent periods of the day. For example, heating temperatures can be lower during the day when nobody is home or at night when people are asleep.  Newer “smart” thermostats have the ability to learn residents’ preferences and can be controlled from smart phones.

Alternate Terms

Energy Saving Comfort Control System
Advanced Comfort Control Technology
Advanced Comfort Control Technology
Sales Message
Advanced comfort control technology allows heating and cooling equipment operation to be set and scheduled for each home. What this means to you is optimum control and efficiency from your comfort system. Wouldn’t you agree advanced control technology should be included in all new homes?
Last Updated: 03/14/2016

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