Indoor Air Quality
Home Comfort is about more than just temperature…it’s about maintaining a healthy home environment with Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).
Indoor Air Quality is among the Environmental Protection Agency’s top 3 health concerns. The agency reports that with dust, pollen, pet dander, mold, chemical fumes, and cigarette smoke, the air inside your home can be 2-5 times dirtier than the air outside. Since so much time is spent indoors, it’s important to keep the quality of indoor air as healthy as possible.
The American College of Allergies says that 30% of adults and 40% of children suffer from allergies. Your home should be a safe sanctuary for you and your family. We offer many products that can improve your indoor air quality and help you breathe a little easier.
Poor indoor air quality can be linked to many illnesses, and problems resulting from allergies to things like dust, and mold. Sometimes occupants experience symptoms that do not fit the pattern of any particular illness, including dry or burning mucous membranes in the nose, eyes, and throat; sneezing; stuffy or runny nose; fatigue or lethargy; headache; dizziness; nausea; irritability and forgetfulness.
Air FiltrationThe most basic step to take when improving your indoor air quality is to invest in a good, high quality air filter. Air filters are designed to work right alongside your heating and cooling equipment to remove dust and other particles from your home. Air filters come in different efficiencies known as Minimum Efficiency Rating Value, (MERV). The higher the MERV rating, the smaller the particles of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and other airborne contaminants it is designed to filter out. By using a good quality filter, and changing it regularly, you can improve the quality of air in your home.
Filters like the one shown can provide relief from many common allergens, but if additional air cleaning is required, an Electronic Air Cleaner (EAC) or ultra violet (UV) lamp units are available.
UV Air Treatment System (UV Lights)
UV lamps are designed to bathe your cooling coil with intense UV-C light. These lamps sterilize coil surfaces to maximize system efficiency and protect the air you breathe.
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) is a disinfection that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to kill or inactivate microorganism. It is used in a variety of applications, such as food, air, and water purification.
The air in today’s tightly-sealed, well-insulated homes can become stale as the same indoor air is circulated and re-circulated. This makes it necessary to bring in fresh air and remove stale air. An air exchanger is an appliance that expels odors, stale air or excess humidity to the outside and replaces it with fresh air throughout the day. Fresh air is tempered, filtered and then distributed throughout the home. In Minnesota, the most common air exchanger is the Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV). This appliance is typically used only in the winter. An Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), can limit the amount of moisture entering the house and can be used year round. Air exchangers are integrated into forced air heating and cooling systems.
Other than temperature, nothing affects your comfort more than humidity, and there’s a fairly narrow range between too much and too little. We carry top of the line equipment to bring you comfort at any temperature.
Dehumidification/HumidificationDust mites and mold love moisture. On the EPA’s Ten Things You Should Know About Mold, number two states there is no practical way to eliminate all mold spores in the indoor environment. Keeping the humidity level around 30-50% helps keep dust mites, mold and other allergens under control. The best way to do this is by using a dehumidifier during the summer months, and a humidifier during the winter months.
Dehumidifiers work by moving the warm humid air over a cold evaporator coil that causes condensation. The condensate is then drained away, and the dehumidified air is recirculated back into the home. Many of today’s IAQ Controls (thermostats that also have humidistats) can use your central air conditioner to remove excess humidity. Where humidity is a significant problem, a whole house dehumidifier may be required.
Some additional tips for dehumidifying your home:
- Use an exhaust fan or crack open a window when cooking, running the dishwasher, or bathing.
- Don’t overwater houseplants.
- Vent the clothes dryer to the outside.
- Fix leaky plumbing to prevent moisture-loving mold.
Humidifiers make dry air more comfortable by adding indoor humidity. During the colder winter months you will typically see a drop in humidity as cold air doesn’t hold the same moisture as warm air. A humidifier is easy to maintain. It typically requires one humidifier pad change at the start of the season, and to turn the water on in the fall months, and off in the spring. The use of a humidifier in a home can relieve:
- Dry skin
- Sinus congestion
- Dry throat
- Nose irritation
- Bloody noses
- Dry cough
- Cracked lips
- Cracked hardwood floors/furniture
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
These are chemicals found in home furnishings, carpets, building materials, paints and lacquers, cleaning supplies, waxes, pesticides, moth repellents, air fresheners, and dry-cleaned clothing. VOCs evaporate into the air when these products are used or sometimes even when they are stored. Volatile organic compounds irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and cause headaches, nausea, and may damage the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Some can cause cancer. Solutions for high VOC levels include ventilation, sealing surfaces that emit VOCs, and VOC destruction technologies.