Air Quality in Your Home Can Be Up To 10 Times More Polluted Than Outdoor Air!
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the air quality in your home can be up to ten times more polluted than outdoor air. Ironically, this condition is due in part to the significant advancements that have been made in attempts to improve home comfort, lower utility bills and reduce energy consumption.
However, in the process, tighter, more energy efficient homes prohibit the free exchange of air that was typical of their drafty predecessors. Consequently, chemicals present in building materials are not as easily dissipated and can aggravate allergies that result in sneezing, wheezing and watering eyes – or more severe reactions – depending upon one’s sensitivity to certain chemicals.
Fortunately, there is a trend toward more “green” environmentally-friendly and people – friendly building materials that contain fewer chemicals, which can aggravate allergies and produce potential health problems. In addition, there is a new generation of air cleaning and purification systems that will remove odors, dust, animal dander, mold, allergens and other particulate matter that can make you sick. Some are portable while the better, more effective systems are integrated into your furnace to provide whole-house coverage.
When it comes to indoor air quality, the biggest misconception that most people have has to do with their furnace filter; they have a notion that it is designed to rid their home of impurities in the air. WRONG! Truth is a run-of-the-mill furnace filter is designed primarily to prevent debris buildup within the furnace inner workings and does little or nothing to improve indoor air quality. Don’t get us wrong, keeping your furnace clean will go a long way in lowering your utility bill and extending the life of the unit, but don’t expect any health benefits.
Keep in mind that not all furnace filters are created equal. The least expensive of the lot typically consist of fiberglass mesh. They provide minimal protection and, in our opinion, are a waste of money and time – since they must be replaced monthly under the best of conditions. A better alternative is a pleated filter. The fabric filter media will capture smaller particles and the pleating provides more filter surface area. An added benefit is that better pleated filters have a life of three months under most conditions. Here’s a simple test when shopping for a filter. Bring along a shaker of salt. Sprinkle salt onto the fiberglass mesh filter. Note the amount of salt that makes it through the filter. Perform the same test with the pleated filter. Note the difference. Virtually all of the salt will make it through the mesh filter whereas none of the salt will travel through the pleated media. Needless to say, indoor air particles that negatively affect your health are significantly smaller than a grain of salt.
A step up the air purification ladder is a large pleated media air cleaner we like to think of as a “turbo-charged” version of the pleated filter. A Media Air Cleaner is attached to your existing heating or cooling system and utilizes a High Efficiency Particulate Arrester (HEPA)-type filtering media. Ironically, the particulate-capturing capability actually improves the longer it is used. Thus, the filter will last one to two years.
If you’re really serious about cleaning up the air in your home, consider an Electronic Air Cleaner. As its name implies, this state-of-the-art technology uses an electrode in combination with fiber media to deliver among the cleanest air possible. Particles entering the air cleaner pass through an electrode, which focuses and intensifies an electrical field generated by ionizing wires. The particles are charged in the electrical field and then collected on a grounded micro-fiber media. As with the Media Air Cleaner mentioned earlier, an Electronic Air Cleaner is installed at your existing heating or cooling system. The filter media needs to be changed once a year.
According to the Center for Disease Control, “Common harmful molds can be found in air conditioning systems including Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Cladosporium.” That’s right, your air conditioner’s evaporator coil is a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi and molds that can lead to odors, illnesses and bothersome allergies. When properly installed near the air conditioning coil, a UV Germicidal Lamp kills the harmful growths and eliminates the odors associated with this growth. In fact, The U.S. Government requires UV lamps above cooling coils to control microbial growth in government buildings. And as an added benefit, when your air conditioning evaporator coil is clean, it’s easier on the compressor. That means greater efficiency and lower utility costs. The UV lamp eliminates biological growth so there’s much less wear and tear on your cooling compressor, extending the life of your air conditioning equipment.
While a UV Lamp kills the living bacteria, molds and fungi particles on the air conditioning coil, an Air Cleaner permanently traps them along with other irritants in the air that affect indoor air comfort.
Letting a little fresh air in by throwing open a window is a more traditional means of improving indoor air quality. While this method still works, it’s not something most folks will do on a cold winter’s day or during the heat of summer. However, today there are “Fresh air intake” systems called Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV) that can be incorporated into your central system to exchange stale inside air for fresh outside air and to help manage humidity year-round. In winter months, the heat of indoor air to is used to warm up the incoming cold fresh air, recovering a substantial amount of energy. In summer, warm fresh air passes near outgoing conditioned air, cooling it down. The result is greater indoor comfort at the lowest possible cost. Although the ideal time to install an ERV is during construction, it can be added to any existing heating/cooling system.
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