Indoor air pollution is a serious problem that affects all homes and other buildings. The problem tends to be the worst during the colder winter months when your heating system is running. The good news is that there are a variety of things you can do that will help to keep the air quality in your home better during the winter, and this guide will show you some of the most effective options.
Replace Your Furnace Filter Regularly
Replacing your furnace filter regularly is essential as it will not only make your heating system work more effectively but also help to prevent air quality issues. The dry, winter air often leads to homes becoming overly dusty, and the furnace filter helps to prevent this as it will constantly filter dust out of the air so that your heating system doesn’t spread it around the house. Any furnace filter you choose will be fairly effective at trapping dust, but using a higher-rated filter is definitely better if you want to overcome issues with allergens and airborne pollutants.
The efficiency of HVAC air filters is usually measured using the MERV or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value scale. The scale goes from MERV 1 to MERV 20, but residential air filters tend to range between MERV 5 and MERV 12 or 13. The higher the MERV value is, the more efficient the filter will be at trapping allergens, contaminants and pollutants. A MERV 5 filter is mostly only effective for trapping larger particles like dust, whereas higher MERV filters can trap much smaller particles like pet dander, mold spores and dust mites as well as smoke particles, exhaust fumes and airborne chemical contaminants. Opting to use a MERV 10 or 12 filter will cost you more, but it is also one of the easiest ways to keep the air quality in your home higher. Keep in mind that not all furnaces or heat pumps have the power to create the airflow needed for fine-mesh filters. Installing a filter rated higher than your HVAC unit can handle can cause strain and premature wear on your system.
No matter what filter you choose, you should always clean or replace it approximately every three months. Check the filter every month or so to get an idea of how quickly your filter will clog. The dry Utah climate tends to result in lots of dust getting inside, which can cause the filter to clog more quickly. The cold winters here typically result in furnaces running regularly both day and night, which will also cause the filter to clog more quickly.
If you don’t replace the air filter often enough, it will become less effective. As the filter clogs up, it will also reduce how much cool air is drawn into the furnace resulting in it heating more slowly and causing your energy bills to increase.
Use a Whole-Home Humidifier to Prevent Issues With Dry Winter Air
A whole-home humidifier can be a great investment that will both improve the air quality in your home and help make it more comfortable. Dry indoor air is always an issue in the winter and can be especially troublesome any time you have a cold or flu or if you suffer from asthma or breathing issues. Low indoor humidity causes your sinuses, throat and nose to dry out and become irritated, which can lead to coughing, nose bleeds and other issues. It also dries out your skin and hair and can lead to itchiness, skin irritation and flaking skin.
When the air is overly dry, it will pull moisture out of materials like wood and leather potentially leading to cracking and warping. Dry air will also make your home always feel colder than it would if the humidity level inside was a bit higher.
A whole-home humidifier will help to avoid these issues. This type of unit is mounted onto your home’s ductwork and will constantly pump out warm, moist air whenever your heating system is running. The heating system then circulates the moist air throughout the home to raise the humidity level in every room. This makes this type of unit far superior to portable humidifiers that can only humidify the air in one space at a time. A whole-home humidifier will also use less energy compared to running a portable unit in all of your bedrooms and other parts of the home.
Bring Fresh Air Inside With a Mechanical Ventilation System
Mechanical ventilation systems can also be a huge help during the winter. Indoor air pollution tends to be higher in the winter simply because you usually keep your windows closed and your home shut tight. This leads to the air quickly becoming stale and the concentration of airborne pollutants increasing. A mechanical ventilation system will prevent this problem as it will work to vent all of the stale, polluted air outside while also bringing fresh, clean outdoor air inside.
A heat recovery ventilator or an energy recovery ventilator can be a great choice that will boost the air quality in your home without causing your heating bills to increase. These units don’t just pull cold air in from outside. Instead, they capture heat from the air they pull out of the building and transfer the heat to the air being brought in from outside so that the incoming air is around the same temperature as the air inside the home.
Overcome Allergens and Pollution With an Air Purification or Filtration System
The most effective option for boosting your home’s air quality and overcoming issues with allergens and indoor air pollution is to install some type of air purification or filtration system. There are a wide variety of options available that will work to filter out the vast majority of airborne particles as they circulate through your ductwork.
One option is a mechanical air cleaner, which is essentially just a larger, more efficient version of a standard air filter. There are also electronic air cleaners that use charged plates to capture and filter out almost all airborne particles. These units ionize the airborne particles or give them a charge so that they are attracted and stick to the plates. This ionization process makes this type of unit extremely effective as it can capture even tiny particles that otherwise could be too small for a standard filter to catch.
Air scrubbers are an option that will clean the air flowing through your ductwork and the air throughout the home. This type of unit releases special ionizing molecules that will stick to particles in the air and also on all of the surfaces in the home. These ions will alter or deactivate most chemical pollutants, and they will also destroy organic molecules like mold spores, bacteria and viruses. When the ions come into contact and stick to the particles, they also make them heavier so that they fall out of the air. This ensures that you don’t have to breathe the pollutants in and also that you can easily clean and get rid of them when you wipe down your counters and other surfaces, vacuum your carpets and mop your floors.
Blue Best Heating & Air offers a range of indoor air quality solutions for customers throughout the Bountiful area. We install and service humidifiers, air purification systems, air scrubbers and other types of indoor air quality equipment. Our certified technicians also specialize in all types of heating and cooling services, and we can help to ensure your home stays comfortable throughout the winter and summer. For more information on our range of indoor air quality services, give us a call today.