Citizens of the United States and other developed nations are facing a similar issue: poor indoor air quality. In some cases, it poses significant health concerns as illnesses caused by air quality can be silent and undetectable. Indoor air quality is not a personal matter, but a public hazard as it can affect anyone who steps within its walls. This brief article will discuss some of the most common sources of indoor air pollution.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission attributes some residential air quality concerns to poor ventilation.1 The circulation of air into the home from outdoors helps prevent the buildup of airborne pollutants indoors. While it remains important to maintain energy efficiency, residential properties should never become completely airtight. Simply opening windows and doors often helps alleviate this problem. Installing screens may enhance the comfort of residents by permitting a breeze to flow into the interior while excluding flying insects.
While central air conditioning and heating units offer many advantages, this equipment will re-circulate dirty air in the absence of regular filter cleaning or replacement.2 Asking your HVAC company to regularly perform this type of routine maintenance promotes better indoor air quality. Since a central air conditioner circulates air throughout the residence, taking this step ensures interior air will pass through an effective, clean filtration system.
One major contributor to indoor air pollution proves challenging to detect in the absence of testing. A wide array of gases potentially causes problems in domestic settings. These materials run the gamut from radon, second hand smoke, and carbon monoxide, to a variety of volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”). The latter include formaldehyde, paint, and air fresheners. Sophisticated alert systems assist homeowners in detecting some of these materials, including radon and carbon monoxide, two of the most dangerous gases. Maintaining space heaters, stoves, and furnaces in good working order reduces carbon monoxide hazards. Installing air purification systems may help reduce the presence of circulating second hand cigarette smoke and VOCs.
Finally, allergens such as pollen, dander, and mold spores also sometimes cause indoor air pollution problems for susceptible individuals. These contaminants may enter a home from a variety of sources. As air circulates from room to room, some allergens become airborne. Cleaning vents and air conditioning filters routinely and installing air scrubbers (or other air purification technology) offers valuable assistance in tackling this problem.
Considerable evidence suggests poor indoor air quality stems from a number of sources. Inadequate ventilation, dirty air conditioning filters, noxious gases, and allergens all sometimes cause indoor air pollution. Yet homeowners possess the power to alleviate these hazards! Make sure your residence receives adequate ventilation from the outdoors. Clean household vents frequently. Ask your HVAC company to replace dirty air conditioning filters. Test your home’s radon and carbon monoxide levels, and maintain all space heaters, furnaces, and stoves in good working condition. To combat allergens, consider installing air purification systems. Taking these steps enhances the safety and comfort of living spaces by improving the quality of indoor air.
For countless homeowners, finding ways to minimize utility costs and reduce electric bills can be of paramount importance. Efforts like identifying optimal temperature and thermostat settings for each season and even different times of day can make quite a difference. Operating climate-control systems more efficiently by ensuring that all HVAC appliances and components are kept in good working order can lower household costs without forcing homeowners to sacrifice their comfort. The following guide should provide homeowners with a number of ways to lower their heating and cooling costs.
Temperatures that are too aggressive place greater demand on equipment, require more power, and may even impair the performance and output of climate-control systems. Identifying the optimal temperature range for the system and trying to ensure that temperatures do not become so extreme that undue stress is placed on appliances and equipment may significantly reduce operational costs. Seasonal differences, exposure to direct sunlight, and lower nighttime temperatures are all factors which need to be considered when determining the most efficient range of thermostat settings.
While adjusting temperature settings during off-hours can save money, allowing temperatures within the home to stray too far from the ideal range can create problems. Forcing the system to use more power in order to effectively heat or cool an interior environment rapidly can eliminate the potential savings offered by leaving the system off or relaxing temperature settings throughout the day. Climate-control systems are the most energy efficient when they are consistently maintaining a medium temperature. Constant and moderate use of the system is more cost effective than crash heating or rapid cooling it from extremely hot or cold temperatures at too rapid of a pace.
Knowing which times of day to make use of HVAC equipment can greatly enhance efficiency. While the difference in electricity costs during peak and off-peak hours will vary from one supplier to the next, knowing the best times of day to operate a climate-control system is not a matter that should be left to chance. Adjusting thermostats, regulating operation and placing greater demand on the system before or after peak hours can help to keep costs from getting out of hand. Peak hours vary based on climate and geographical location, so do your research to determine what hours to avoid and which to use your system during.
Operating larger appliances like a central AC unit or furnace in order to heat or cool the entire home is rarely the most economical option. Using fans to improve air circulation or making use of space heaters on window-mounted AC units can help lower electricity bills. Small home appliances that can provide room and area-specific temperature control will help to alleviate the need to use larger and more costly equipment.
Outdated equipment and appliances that have not been properly maintained could end up being a very costly liability. Preventative maintenance and routine service of all HVAC equipment and components ensures that homeowners are able to identify and address any issues which might otherwise impair operation. For homeowners who are serious about lowering their monthly bills, upgrading to a more efficient system or replacing antiquated components with newer-model devices designed with superior efficiency and performance in mind is often well worth the purchase and installation costs. From a blown compressor to a faulty thermostat, even the most seemingly minor maintenance issues could make owners unable to reduce their utility costs, no matter how much they fine-tune their temperature settings.
Replacing or upgrading a central AC unit, whether it be a window-mount or portable AC, can be an important undertaking. Knowing enough to choose the right size and type of unit, as well as being familiar with key equipment features, helps to ensure that smarter decisions can be made. From learning a little basic terminology to finding equipment options that are able to produce superior performance while reducing energy usage, a little education can often make a huge difference.
There are a number of industry terms which can often leave prospective owners feeling lost or confused. Possessing the right vocabulary is often the first step towards finding the unit, system or equipment option that offers the best value. Here are some of the most common terms:
There are different AC systems that have been designed meet a variety of needs. AC units will typically fall into one of the following categories:
Current generation AC units can offer a wide range of features. Energy efficient systems offer comparable performance to older model systems for a fraction of the operational cost. Units that have been designed for quiet operation or those that offer superior filtration for enhanced air quality may also be worth considering. With so many options and choices available, prospective owners would do well to consult with a professional before investing in a new system or unit.
Incidents of teens huffing HVAC refrigerant in order to get high are on the rise. This can cause health problems such as difficulty breathing, irregular heart rhythms, nerve and brain damage, and even death. If your air conditioning unit isn’t effectively cooling your home during the hot summer months and your HVAC technician discovers that your system’s refrigerant is low, but finds no leak in your equipment, it is possible that someone is tampering with your system to huff the refrigerant.
To prevent these incidents, the California Mechanical Code was changed, resulting in CMC 1106.3.1. CMC 1106.3.1 mandates that all outdoor refrigerant service ports be fitted with locking-type tamper-resistant caps or be otherwise protected from unauthorized access. Locking refrigerant caps and the tools to remove them are not sold to the public; only an HVAC professional can install and remove them, ensuring that the refrigerant in your system isn’t accessible to your teens or those who would harm themselves by huffing it and that your HVAC system will continue to function effectively.
Be proactive about ensuring the health and safety of yourself and those around you. If your outdoor HVAC unit’s refrigeration ports are not currently fitted with these locking, tamper-resistant caps, contact a local air conditioning professional such as Precision Temperature today.
People are spending more time than ever indoors. The quality of the indoor air you breathe is therefore extremely important to your health. Poor air quality can contribute to health problems including asthma and other respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even some cancers. Just short-term exposure can lead to immediate effects such as eye, nose, and throat irritation, dizziness, headaches, and fatigue.
But what causes indoor air pollution, and how can you reduce it in your home or office? Below we discuss some common sources of indoor air pollution and three ways you can improve indoor air quality.
Indoor air pollution can come from a multitude of sources. These can include: outdoor air pollution that is brought indoors; radon; household cleaning and maintenance products; fuel-burning appliances; building materials; home furnishings; personal care products; moisture; tobacco products; and central heating and cooling systems.
Which of these indoor air pollution sources are most and least important to your health depend on how much pollution each source contributes and how harmful each pollutant is, as well as the frequency of pollutant emission.
There are three main strategies to help improve indoor air quality:
Preventing indoor air pollution in the first place or reducing the levels of pollutant emissions is often the most effective, cheapest way to improve indoor air quality. This can be done by eliminating the pollutant source, such as tobacco products; physically enclosing the source, such as those containing asbestos; or maintaining and adjusting the source to reduce emissions, such as in the case of gas stoves.
Pollutants can accumulate to unsafe levels if too little fresh air enters indoors from outside. While reducing the amount of air that leaks into and out of your home can help lower heating and cooling costs, a controlled means of ventilation is then needed to prevent high levels of indoor air pollution.
Most heating and cooling systems do not bring fresh air into the building. Natural ventilation via opening doors or windows or mechanical ventilation involving fans and outdoor air intakes helps remove indoor airborne pollutants, improving indoor air quality.
Air scrubbers are mechanical systems that remove particles from the air. They may use physical filters or UV lights, or even a combination of the two. How effective an air scrubber is at removing indoor air pollutants depends on how efficiently it removes pollutants from the air, how much air it draws in, and the strength of the pollutant source. While not all indoor air pollutants can be combated using an air scrubber, air scrubbers can help improve indoor air quality.
Without proper attention to indoor air quality, the air you likely spend much of your day breathing in might be creating serious health problems. Take action by controlling the source of indoor pollutants, increasing ventilation, and investing in an air scrubber. Precision Temperature’s knowledgeable technicians can answer any questions you have about improving indoor air quality in your San Diego home. Give us a call today at (619) 588-5321!
Forced air furnaces require a filter to function properly and prevent pollutants from entering your home. This furnace filter needs to be checked every few months and changed when it is dirty; more frequently during the winter months when your furnace sees heavier usage. Here we provide a simple step-by-step guide to changing your furnace filter.
The first thing you should do before performing any sort of furnace maintenance is to turn off and unplug your furnace. Then you need to determine what type of filter you have. Your existing filter will be located inside the furnace or the air return vent and will have arrows on it showing airflow direction, which you will want to remember. It may help to write this down. The filter size will also be printed on the cardboard filter frame. If your filter has a plastic frame instead of cardboard, it’s reusable! You just need to clean it periodically with water and a vacuum, rather than replacing it.
If you do need a replaceable filter, the next step is to get the right replacement. You’ll want to make sure to get the same size filter so it will fit your furnace correctly and allow it to function efficiently. Most hardware stores and home centers, as well as many online stores, sell replacement disposable filters. Your HVAC professional can recommend a correctly-sized filter that is effective at removing contaminants from your home’s air. For even more efficient removal of harmful air-borne particles, consider an air scrubber such as the Trane CleanEffects Air Cleaner, which removes up to 99.98% of pollutants and allergens from the air.
Once you’ve located the correct replacement filter, all that’s left to do is install it. There will be markings on the filter that tell you which side should face the furnace. Slide your new furnace filter into place, keeping in mind the proper air flow direction, and replace any covers. You’re all set until it’s time to check it and change it again!
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Changing your furnace filter is usually something that you can do yourself. For most other aspects of furnace maintenance, you’ll want to contact an HVAC professional. Consider a maintenance agreement from Precision Temperature. With seasonal checkups and maintenance on schedule, you’ll get peace of mind and catch any potential problems early, before they become extremely expensive to repair. Call us today at 619.588.5321
Are you wasting money heating your home without properly weatherizing it? Weatherization helps you save money by helping you save energy on both heating and cooling, making it good for both your wallet and the environment! Home weatherization includes air sealing, improving ventilation, and adding insulation.
Preventing outside air from leaking into and indoor air from leaking out of your home is an important, cost-effective way of lowering heating and cooling costs. After all, you don’t want the nice warm air you just spent precious dollars and cents to heat to the perfectly cozy temperature to leak out into the cold night air! And you especially don’t want that heated air to be replaced by cold outdoor air leaking into your home. Air sealing your home by caulking cracks and around door and window frames and weatherstripping doors can help reduce air leakage.
Of course, sealing all the air inside your home may not be the healthiest thing to do. Ventilation prevents pollutants and toxic contaminants from being sealed inside your home and helps maintain indoor air quality. Natural ventilation, spot ventilation, and whole-house ventilation are the main strategies you can use to achieve this.
Natural ventilation is usually the least useful strategy, due to its unpredictable and uncontrollable nature. A properly air sealed home will not be able to achieve sufficient air quality relying on natural ventilation alone because the usual cracks and holes it depends on will have been sealed to prevent the unpredictable and uncontrollable temperature changes that result from natural ventilation.
Spot ventilation helps make other forms of home ventilation more effective by removing air pollution and moisture at the source. Think of kitchen range hoods and bathroom exhaust fans. Spot ventilation is recommended for proper home ventilation and good air quality, but will not suffice as the only means of ventilating your home.
The most robust form of ventilation is whole-house ventilation. Whole-house ventilation systems use fans and duct systems to remove stale air from and bring fresh air into your home. This provides controlled ventilation throughout the house, with no unpredictable cold or hot air entering your home and raising your heating or cooling costs. Some whole-house ventilation systems can even help further reduce heating and cooling costs through changing the temperature of the air coming into the house by transferring heat to or from the air leaving the house.
Properly insulating your home reduces heating and cooling costs and increases home comfort by reducing heat flow. Left unimpeded, heat flows from warmer areas to cooler areas. Insulation helps limit the transferring of heat into or out of your home, thus reducing the amount of energy required to maintain your desired interior temperature. A professional contractor can help you determine what type of insulation you need and where you need it, as well as help install it.
If your heating and cooling energy costs are still sky-rocketing after weatherizing your home, you may need a more efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Precision Temperature, your local San Diego HVAC professionals, can help you find the right system for both your comfort and your wallet. Give us a call today at 619-588-5321.