Ninety percent. That’s how much of their time the average American spends indoors. At least we do better than residents of the United Arab Emirates, where the average is 99.9% (and a normal summer temperature is 122 °F).
If you spend a lot of time indoors, then you should be concerned about the quality of the air you’re breathing. Indoor air is significantly more polluted than outdoor air. It has higher concentrations of poisonous gasses such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and nitrogen dioxide. Worse yet, organic irritants such as mold spores, pet dander and dust are all more prevalent indoors as well.
Prolonged exposure to household air pollution can contribute to a number of serious diseases: stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to name a few.
Limiting your delicate, irreplaceable lungs’ exposure to things that make you ill is always a good move. That’s why if preserving your health is your priority, you should take every step you can to improve your indoor air quality. Here are a few ways you can start just by focusing on your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system!
Replace HVAC Filters
HVAC filters prevent fine particles from traveling through the ventilation system. They limit your exposure to irritants, as well as more serious threats such as hantavirus. Filters also promote greater HVAC system efficiency by preventing dust from gumming up sensitive components.
If you’re using normal filters, you want to replace them every 90 days. If you have pets in your home, you should replace your filters every 60 days. If you have pets and suffer from allergies, then you may find you’re most comfortable when you change your filters every three to six weeks.
Upgrade HVAC Filters
Air filters are ranked according to their minimum efficiency reporting values (MERV). A filter with a MERV of 1 is the poorest, and can only intercept dust and other large particles with 20% efficiency. A filter with a MERV of 20 is best, although you would only find one in the ventilation system of a high-tech facility, such as a hospital or pharmaceutical factory.
But you can still come closer to MERV 20. Instead of using regular pleated filters, which typically have a MERV of 5 to 13, consider switching to a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. A HEPA filter has a MERV of 17 or higher. That means it traps pollutants as small as 0.3 microns (~0.00001″), including bacteria and viruses, and it is 99.97% effective at its job.
High-quality HEPA filters are more expensive, but at least you only have to replace them once or twice a year.
Install an Air Purification System
Upgrading your HVAC system’s filters can only take you so far. When you want the cleanest indoor air, it’s time to install additional filters inside the ductwork.
- Expanded media filter. Once installed by a professional, this boxy 8″ thick filter will trap many of the pollutants that escaped your forced air furnace’s stock 1″ filter.
- Electronic filter. Also known as an electrostatic precipitator, an electronic filter generates a high-voltage current to charge microscopic airborne particles. The filter then traps the particles on its oppositely charged collector plates.
- Ultraviolet filter. Ultraviolet (UV) light may be bad for your skin – but it is instantly lethal to microscopic organisms. In essence, a UV filter eradicates bacteria and viruses by bombarding them with radiation. And because it’s tucked safely away in the ductwork, it does not expose household residents to that radiation.
Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance
Professional HVAC maintenance won’t just spare you from discomfort, needlessly high utility bills, and a potentially catastrophic breakdown during winter. When an HVAC technician performs maintenance, they check for leaks, dirty and broken components, and other issues that could impair the system’s ability to maintain a healthy indoor humidity level. Once they have completed any necessary repairs, your home will become less susceptible to black mold growth.
If you would like to install filtration in your home’s ventilation system – or simply receive the expert maintenance which keeps you comfortable and healthier all year round – then you only have to contact Haugan Heating & Air Conditioning. We service residential and commercial properties throughout the greater Sioux Falls, SD area!