Are you wondering about the relationship between air conditioning and indoor air quality? We’ve got some answers for you!
In the heat of summer, for most of us, AC usage increases. Often, this means the windows are closed and the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system is recycling indoor air. If left unchecked, this air can carry contaminants that are harmful to your health.
But there are simple solutions and steps you can take to keep you and your family healthy this summer! Follow these tips to maintain healthy air quality in your home while your air conditioner is running.
How Does an Air Conditioner Affect Indoor Air Quality?
The main purpose of air conditioning is to improve comfort levels by cooling your indoor space, regulating the temperature through fans, refrigerants, and evaporator coils. It isn’t specifically designed to clean and purify indoor air, but you can influence the quality of the air inside your home by keeping evaporator coils clean and being savvy about the type of filter you use and how often you change it.
On top of that, monitoring your home’s humidity, checking your ductwork, and putting a little time and effort into preventative maintenance can go a long way to reduce household contaminants and keep indoor air fresh, clean, and healthy. Read on to find out how.
Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Home – Choose the Right Filter and Change it Often
All HVAC systems use an air filter to remove particles from the air. As the filter removes air pollutants and contaminants like pollen, pet dander, dirt, dust and debris, it becomes dirty and ineffective over time. Experts recommended changing it at least every three months or checking with the manufacturer for a recommendation on exact timing.
Some filters will fail to remove allergens from the air. Different filters work for different air pollutants, depending on how tightly they are woven. For maximum efficiency and higher air quality in your home, look for a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, and focus on the MERV rating of your air conditioner. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) will guide you in finding a filter that works best for you. A filter with a higher MERV rating will have finer and better filtrations, making it very effective at providing high air quality; however, it may have less air flow and cause problems, so it’s important to make sure the filter you choose is compatible with your system.
Monitor the Humidity in Your Home
While the ideal humidity level in your home ultimately depends on your personal preference, experts suggest a range of 30% – 60% humidity to maintain optimal health and indoor air quality. High humidity levels can cause the air to feel hotter than it really is, prompting the air conditioner to run more often, increasing your energy bills. More importantly, excess moisture creates a toxic breeding ground for mold and bacteria.
A dehumidifier can help to remove excess moisture, restrict household allergens, and improve your indoor air quality. You can also keep humidity levels low with consistent use of ceiling and exhaust fans.
Other Tips to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home
After you’ve assessed your filter and the humidity in your home, here are a few other simple steps you can take to improve indoor air quality.
- Check your Air Ducts
If your ductwork isn’t installed properly or maintained, it can become a problem, distributing contaminants throughout your home. It’s a good idea to hire a professional to make sure your ducts are circulating clean, fresh air.
- Use Indoor Plants
Household plants are a beautiful way to naturally purify the air. Plants will organically pull contaminants out of the air as they take in carbon dioxide and release fresh oxygen into your home.
- Open your Windows
On cooler days when you don’t have the air conditioning cranked, open doors and windows to air out your space and allow fresh air to circulate.
- Keep your Space Clean
The less contaminants there are in your home, the less toxic particles there are moving through your air conditioning system. Keeping your floors and countertops clean, using non-toxic cleaning products, and emptying filters in your household appliances (vacuum cleaner, clothes dryer, and kitchen vent) will go a long way to improve the air quality of your home.
If you have questions or would like support keeping your indoor air quality high and maximizing your health this summer, call the experts at Ashton – we’re here to help!