Your furnace and ductwork can become contaminated with dust, dirt, pollen, and other debris. When this happens, these contaminants circulate around your home and can cause asthma, allergies, and other symptoms.
Lexington Heating and Air uses electricity and refrigerant to turn air into warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer. This process is based on the principles of thermodynamics.
You breathe in about 11,000 liters of air a day, and it’s important that the air inside your home or business is healthy. If it’s not, then you might experience a variety of symptoms like irritated eyes and throat, fatigue and even respiratory problems. The good news is that taking proper steps to improve indoor air quality helps alleviate these symptoms and prevent them from developing into more serious health issues down the road.
One of the most common ways to improve your indoor air quality is to control humidity. Having too much humidity leads to excess moisture, which can promote mold growth and increase dust mite populations while also attracting pests. While having too little humidity can cause itchy, flaky skin and static shock while increasing dust levels. A properly functioning heating and air conditioning system balances the level of moisture in the air, ensuring that it is neither too dry nor too humid.
Improving your indoor air quality can help with allergies too. Airborne allergens such as pollen, mold spores, animal dander and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are known to trigger allergic reactions in building inhabitants. Good ventilation systems remove these irritants from the air, helping reduce the amount of allergy symptoms that people experience such as sneezing, coughing, itching and irritation.
Other factors that can affect indoor air quality include temperature and humidity control, ventilation rates, the use of odor-reducing cleaning products, and the operation and maintenance of HVAC systems. Having these systems working as they should can make a significant impact on your indoor air quality and ultimately help you achieve a more comfortable home or office.
With summer approaching, the 60 million Americans that suffer from seasonal allergies will be battling their symptoms. Tree pollen, neighbor’s mowing lawns and professional golf on the television are just some of the reasons you may find yourself reaching for a tissue or running to your medicine cabinet to relieve itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and nasal congestion.
These allergens can make their way into your home on your shoes and clothing, as well as through the ventilation system and even through your pets, who shed pet dander. You can significantly reduce the amount of allergens in your home by regularly dusting, vacuuming and mopping. A filtration system is also a must, and a humidifier can help keep the air in your home at a healthy relative humidity level.
These allergens can enter your house through the ventilation system, your clothing and shoes, your pets’ hair, and even through your pets themselves. By routinely vacuuming, mopping, and dusting your home, you can drastically reduce the number of allergens present. In addition, a humidifier can assist in maintaining a healthy relative humidity level in your home’s air. A filtration system is also essential.
Unfortunately, these strategies only go so far. Your HVAC system can help reduce allergy-causing airborne pollutants in your home by providing an effective filtration and cleaning process. Regular filter changes, a high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA filter and duct cleaning can dramatically increase your indoor air quality and eliminate many common allergens such as dust mites, mold spores and mildew spores.
It is also important to keep your windows and doors closed when pollen counts are high, and you should avoid using fans that stir up dust and pollen from surfaces in your home. An air conditioning unit with a UV sanitizer is another great addition to your HVAC system because it kills bacteria, viruses and mold spores in the ductwork. An air purifier with a MERV rating of over ten is another helpful device to combat airborne pollutants that your furnace and standard air filters cannot.
When pollen counts are high, it’s also critical to keep your windows and doors closed and to stay away from fans that could potentially stir up dust and pollen from surfaces inside your house. Another fantastic addition to your HVAC system is an air conditioner with a UV sanitizer, which destroys mold spores, viruses, and bacteria in the ductwork. Another useful tool to fight airborne pollutants that your furnace and ordinary air filters cannot handle is an air purifier with a MERV rating of more than ten.
Many people use pesticides to eliminate bugs that scurry into air conditioning vents, and while these sprays can effectively kill the pests, they cannot reach all of the bugs hiding within. Plus, spraying a home with fungicides causes those chemicals to recirculate throughout the house, exposing people and pets to harmful levels of poisonous substances.
Most often, bugs move into AC vents because they have easy access to a resource: water. Cockroaches and other insects are especially drawn to water leaks because they provide a moist environment where they can reproduce easily. So, if you notice any leaks in the walls or ceiling around your home, make sure to seal them as soon as possible.
In addition, if you have outdoor air conditioning units, it is important to keep the area surrounding these clean and free of overgrowth. There should be a 3-foot clearance between the outdoor unit and bushes, flowers, trees, and shrubs to prevent insect migration through these vents into your home.
Another simple way to stop bugs from entering the air conditioning system is to cover all vents with mesh screens, which can be found at most hardware stores and are a cheap and effective solution. Additionally, it is important to explore the outside of your house and check for any cracks or crevices that could allow bugs to enter. Fill these areas with caulk that is safe for your home’s wall material. Finally, if you have a garden, be sure to regularly sweep up leaves and debris to prevent them from accumulating near your home. This will also help deprive critters of their preferred food source and discourage them from moving up to your air vents.
When your HVAC system isn’t running properly, it has to work harder and use more energy. That extra strain costs you in higher electric bills. A yearly AC tune-up by professional technicians will help you save money over time with a well-functioning system that uses less energy to heat and cool your home. You can also save by keeping up with the basic maintenance, like vacuuming your ductwork regularly and keeping furniture away from registers. Also, consider a smart thermostat that allows you to control your air conditioning with a mobile app from anywhere.
According to the Energy Department, your HVAC system consumes 12 percent of your household energy – more than a quarter in hot, humid states. You can reduce your energy consumption by installing a high-efficiency unit with a SEER rating of 16 or higher. Upgrading to a new system will save you more than $660 a year, or $13,000 over 20 years at today’s electricity rates.
Many utility companies offer incentives for homeowners who are willing to go green. If you upgrade to a high-efficiency system and take other energy-saving measures, your utility bill will plummet, and you’ll have a home that’s more environmentally friendly. That’s an investment that will pay off in both the short and long term of homeownership and will improve your home’s value if you ever decide to sell. You can even qualify for tax breaks on your new HVAC system if it meets certain criteria. Contact your local utility company to find out more about their discounts, energy efficiency programs and budget billing options.