Breathe in, breathe out. The quality of the air we breathe is more important now than ever before. We’re spending so much of our lives indoors, it’s crucial that we make sure it’s clean and safe. Just like the outdoors, the air in our home contains moisture, odors, allergens, and other pollutants but unlike the outdoors, we can do a few things to stop pollutants from building up in our space. At the end of the day, a breath of fresh air can make all the difference in our lives.
The keys to improving the quality of air in your home are managing indoor air circulation, ensuring a flow of fresh air, as well as maintaining air filtration and sterilization. Makes sense and sounds pretty straightforward, right? Here’s how you can make them happen:
HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. And what you want to get is a HEPA air filtration system which will reduce the amount of particulates in the air. Also known as a HEPA air sanitizer or air purifier, a standard HEPA system is 99.97% efficient at removing particulates that are 0.3 microns in size or larger such as pollen, mould, tobacco and cooking smoke, household dust, and bacteria. You can install a whole home HEPA system that integrates into your heating and cooling system or buy a standalone unit. When shopping for a standalone unit, consider the cost of replacement filters, look for certifications like the Energy Star logo, Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) Verifide seal, and clean air delivery rate (CADR) rating (the higher the CADR, the faster and more efficient the air purifier is), the size of your room, and noise performance. Once you’ve found a system that works for your home, place it in a spot where nothing obstructs airflow. Remember to clean the filters regularly.
Building on that, there’s a category of HEPA air purifiers that use short-wave ultraviolet light to reduce pollutants in the air. This UV germicidal irradiation (UVGI) deactivates airborne pathogens and microorganisms. Historically, this process has been used in hospitals to disinfect water and surfaces and has been shown to be effective in cleaning the air as well. With a UV light air purifier that’s integrated with your home’s heating and cooling system, air passes through UV lamps that directly disinfect the air for the entire home.
For those who need to replace their furnace, you may want to consider installing a model with an electronically commutated motor (ECM) variable speed motor. A variable speed motor precisely controls the flow of heated or cooled air throughout a home. This energy efficient unit can be set to run for longer periods of time to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the home. (By the way, it’s a common misconception that a longer running unit will cost you more in electricity. ECM motors are designed to run 24/7 and actually uses less electricity than a standard PSC motor.) When the fan is in constant operation the motor will continue to slowly circulate air, allowing your furnace filter to capture more contaminants, keeping your unit clean and efficient. Combined with a HEPA air filter, your home’s air will be cleaner.
If you live in a recently built home, here’s something you may not know. As construction techniques have become more energy efficient, homes have better air sealing and insulation which means there is less air leakage, heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. While good for the planet and your energy bill, the downside is a lack of fresh air being brought into the home.
Because the house is sealed the air inside collects moisture and pollutants from everyday activities done in your home. This is why you need an air exchanger with a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV). These systems remove stale and polluted air from the house to the outside and replace it with an equal amount of fresh air – exchanging the air multiple times a day. During heating season, HRVs will also help warm the incoming air so your heating system doesn’t need to work as hard. Combine an HRV or ERV system with your indoor plant garden, and you’ll have an abundance of fresh air everywhere.
Finally, as with many areas around the house, allowing dust to build up only leads to more headaches, sometimes literally. A home’s ducting can collect dirt, dust, mould, pollen and pet dander over time. Make sure to sign up for routine duct cleaning service to remove these allergy-aggravating contaminants.
And that’s it. Start with a HEPA air filter and work your way up to get cleaner, safer air in your home. Soon, you’ll wonder how you were ever able to breathe easy before. To learn more about the products and services mentioned in this list, visit enercare.ca/safer-air-solutions.