Poor indoor air quality and indoor air pollution are problems that plague virtually every home and all other buildings. The EPA estimates that the air inside most buildings contains three to five times more pollution than the air outside the building. In extremely hot climates like Arizona, indoor air quality is generally always much worse during the summer since most people tend to keep their AC constantly running and their windows always closed.
Part of the reason for this is that cooking and many of the cleaning products you use give off various pollutants. Many of the building materials in your home and even your furnishings and electronics also continuously emit potentially harmful chemical pollutants known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Whenever your home stays closed up without fresh air coming in, the concentration of all of the pollutants continues to rise. The good news is that there are some simple solutions that can help improve the air quality in your home so you and your family can stay healthy and breathe more easily.
1. Only Open Your Windows When Necessary
Arizona luckily doesn’t have as big of issues with pollen or mold spores in the outdoor air as other places. Some types of pollen like ragweed and tree pollen can be a big issue in the spring, and there is also lots more pollen in the air in the early fall after the monsoon rains. Both desert plant and grass pollens can also be moderately high throughout the summer. Dust is obviously a major issue all summer long as well.
Any time you leave your windows open, you’re potentially allowing lots of dust and other allergens inside, which can worsen air quality and be especially problematic for people with severe allergies. The other obvious reason for not wanting your windows open is that it will quickly make your home much hotter thanks to the extreme Arizona heat.
Instead of opening your windows to let the stale, polluted air out and replenish your home with fresh air, a better option is to install some type of mechanical ventilation system such as an energy recovery ventilator or heat recovery ventilator. These types of systems will regularly draw fresh air in from outside the home while also pulling the polluted air back outside, and they do this much more effectively than opening your windows ever could.
Most systems have an internal filter that will minimize the amount of dust and other allergens that get pulled inside the home. Another advantage of these systems is that they also transfer heat between the outgoing and incoming streams of air, which means that they will essentially pre-cool the fresh air coming in to prevent it from making your home much warmer.
2. Wash and Brush Your Pets Often
Summer is the time when pets typically shed the most. All of the hair and dander they give off can contribute to poor air quality, and the best way to prevent this is to make sure you brush and wash your pets regularly. If you have outdoor pets, their fur and paws can also collect lots of pollen and other allergens that then get tracked inside your house. This is another reason why you may want to give them a bath weekly.
3. Use a Higher Quality AC Air Filter
The main purpose of your air conditioning system’s air filter is to trap dust, lint, hair and debris so that it can’t clog up the blower or cause the AC evaporator coil to get too dirty for the system to work effectively. A basic air filter will really only be able to trap large particles like dust and hair and will have almost no effect on your home’s air quality. However, a higher quality filter can help to improve air quality as it will be able to trap the majority of smaller particles including pollen, mold spores, smoke and even some chemical pollutants and contaminants. While higher-rated filters are more expensive, they can definitely be worth the extra cost by preventing air quality issues and lessening your allergy symptoms.
4. Install UV Lights to Prevent Microbes in Your AC System
The evaporator coil in a central AC system is often a hotbed for mold and bacteria growth. When your AC is running, warm air constantly flows over the evaporator coil and moisture in the air condenses into water on the coil. All of this heat and moisture creates the perfect environment for bacteria and mold to thrive. Your AC will then also spread spores throughout your house when it runs. The best way to prevent mold and bacteria issues in your AC system is to install a coil-sanitizing UV light. The ultraviolet light can alter the reproductive ability of mold, bacteria and viruses on the coil to prevent them from multiplying.
5. Upgrade to a Whole-Home Air Purifier or Filtration System
By far the best thing you can do to quickly improve your home’s indoor air quality is to upgrade your HVAC system with some type of whole-home air purification or filtration system. One of the easiest and least expensive options is to install a media filter in place of your existing AC air filter. A media filter is essentially just a larger, much more effective version of a standard air filter that will work to trap far more allergens and pollutants. One major advantage of media filters is that they typically only need to be replaced yearly instead of every few months like a standard AC air filter.
There are also a variety of different whole-home air purification and filtration systems that can be even more effective. Some systems simply use an even more efficient filter, while others use an electrostatic filter that uses charged ions to attract and capture airborne particles as they flow through your ductwork. Another option found more commonly in commercial buildings is an air scrubber, which releases charged ions that spread throughout the home.
It’s possible to choose an air purification or filtration system designed to capture chemical pollutants like exhaust fumes and common household VOCs like formaldehyde. This is important since long-term exposure to many VOCs has been repeatedly linked with an increased risk of certain illnesses including cancer.
It is very difficult to completely prevent VOCs from being present in your home simply because they are given off by so many different things in the home. The most effective option for tackling the problem is to choose an indoor air quality system that will help to filter the VOCs out of the air so that you’re not breathing them in nearly as much.
At Honest Air Conditioning, we’re proud to be the number one choice for indoor air quality services in Mesa. We offer professional indoor air quality testing and we also carry a wide selection of IAQ equipment. If you need any air conditioning or heating services, our team can take care of that as well. Contact us today to schedule an air quality test or if you need any other HVAC services.