Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Improve your Indoor Air Quality

There are many ways to improve your Indoor Air Quality through options like whole house Air Cleaners, UV lights and purification systems, dehumidifiers, humidifiers and fresh air ventilation. You may be thinking, why humidifiers? Sometimes during long cold winters the humidity drops in the home to the point that one, we need to raise the heating temperature to be comfortable and two, the lower humidity can cause skin and sinus irritation making you more vulnerable to infection. The solution is a duct mounted humidifier. It can only operate if the heater is running and the humidity is lower than your adjusted set point. The dehumidifier on the other hand can operate based on high humidity regardless of the temperature or a call of cooling.
A very tight home can sometime become stagnate and/or contaminated with everyday smells from cooking odors, to cleaning supplies. Also whenever we use exhaust fans such as stove hoods, clothes driers and bath room exhaust fans, the air that is removed from the structure has to be made up some how. Usually this comes back into the house from the worst places, such as down fireplace chimneys, dryer, cooking and bathroom exhaust vents. If the pressure inside your home is lower than the outside barometric pressure, guess what happens when you open a door to the outside. Unconditioned air, moisture and particulates come rushing in. However, bringing in a little fresh air, through an Energy Recovery Ventilator, can help reduce many of these issues. The ERV brings in fresh air while simultaneously exhausting stale air from the home. The heat and humidity is transferred from the incoming air into the outgoing air stream through a special heat exchanger. Ultra Violet air purification is also available in different forms from a simple UV light to Photo Catalytic Oxidation devices. The PCO type systems utilizes ionization to reduce particles, UV rays and a catalyst to create oxygen and hydrogen based friendly oxidizers to reduce microbial contaminants and low level ozone to reduce odors. Air cleaning systems range from HEPA filters to Electronic Air Cleaners to a basic 4” to 5” media filters. There are many things to be considered when choosing the right air cleaner for your home. I consider the 2 most important factors to be, your particular needs, such as health concerns, and the type of central heat and ac system you are installing it on. Sometimes the better filtering capability means it is more restrictive to air flow. This can translate to higher energy cost to operate and reduced system capacity if not selected and designed properly. Another factor to consider is maintenance cost. Some systems are more expensive to maintain or require more frequent service than others.

Regardless of your Indoor Air Quality needs, a good HVAC contractor will work with you and help design the right solutions for you.