The Green Home

Take steps to improve air quality

Posted April 9, 2013

As spring time comes around, pollen season begins, setting off allergies and exacerbating health problems like asthma. While you can’t control the air quality outside, you can improve the quality of the air in your home and provide your family a safe haven to breathe easy and get relief from the yellow haze outside.

The air quality in most homes is worse than you might think. The air in your home can be up to 100 times more polluted than the air outside. That pesky pollen, dust, pet dander, chemicals from cleaners, germs, mold, viruses and bacteria are all found in the air you breathe. Your heating and cooling equipment circulates that air, clean or dirty, but only removes only a small percentage of pollutants. Remove these pollutants by adding air cleaners and ultraviolet (UV) lights to your central HVAC system.

At any given time, a great number of micro-organisms, including germs, bacteria and viruses, are circulating in your home’s air. Targeted UV light penetrates micro-organisms and breaks down their molecular makeup, ultimately killing them. UV lights can be installed in either the ducts or evaporator coil, depending on the type of system you have. As the HVAC blower circulates the air, it continuously passes under the UV light, scrubbing out whatever organic particles are vulnerable to the rays. It’s important to remember that ultraviolet light does not affect non-organic particles, so you’ll still want an effective air filtration system working in tandem with the UV lights.

Install a whole-home air filtration to filter dust and pollutants out of the air. This doesn’t mean your furnace filters, which are designed to keep harmful particles from damaging your HVAC system and typically trap only 5-15 percent of airborne particulates. Individual, portable, air-cleaning units can provide some relief, but their effectiveness is limited to the area immediately surrounding the unit. Not to mention that these units are often noisy and unsightly. A better option is a whole-home air filtration product. Attached to your central heating and cooling system, they provide relief in every room of your home. These systems are installed as part of your home’s central heating and cooling system, out of your way and out of sight. That means every time your system runs, potentially harmful contaminants are removed. The resulting clean air is then distributed via your HVAC system's ductwork to your entire home. These systems also require less maintenance than portable units and standard filters.

For best results, there are a couple of steps to take along with installing air filters and UV lights. First make sure your house is properly sealed and ventilated. Seal cracks around windows and doors to keep your clean air in and outside pollutants from making their way in. Use exhaust fans that vent to the outside in bathrooms and kitchens to draw out stale air and pollutants. Second, make sure your HVAC system is properly sealed. Leaky ducts waste your conditioned air and can draw pollutants like mold, dust and insulation particles into your home. Have a professional assess your ducts and seal them as needed.

There are a variety of high quality UV light and whole home filtration products available on the market today. Your qualified heating and cooling contractor can help you determine which is right for your family’s needs.

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About this Blog:

Bobby Ferrel, founder of Green Horizon oversees The Green Home blog. Ferrel is co-founder of Green Horizon, with offices in the Triangle and Charlotte, offering home owners and builders a one-stop shop for energy efficiency and green building. Services include home performance assessments, weatherization, closed crawl spaces, all types of insulation, HVAC and geothermal installation and maintenance. Reach Bobby directly at bferrel@greenhorizon.com or visit him online at www.greenhorizon.com