This time of year, North Texas residents start feeling the pain of allergies even more than usual. The good news is that a few changes to your HVAC system can have a positive effect on your family’s coughing, sneezing, and sniffing. At Efficient Home Solutions, we want to share some ways you can feel better, this spring and beyond.
It’s All About That Filter
There are three ways your filter can help with allergies. The first is to upgrade it to a higher quality, such as one that’s HEPA-rated (this stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air, as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy). We recommend HEPA-rated air filters with the following Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV ratings: 8 (great at controlling mold spores, pollen, dust/dust mites, and bacteria); 11 (all of those plus pet dander); 13 (the previous plus smog, smoke including from cooking oil, and virus carriers); and 16, which captures up to 96% of the smallest airborne particles.
Keep in mind that you should talk with an HVAC professional before changing your filter since airflow adjustments might be required. We’re big fans of the Lennox Healthy Climate PureAir Filter, which is unique because it doesn’t produce any ozone as a byproduct. In fact, this filter actively works to reduce ozone.
Regardless of the air filter you go with, it’s vital to replace it on a regular basis – typically every one to three months, depending on the specific type and its capabilities. If the filter gets too dirty, your HVAC system has to work much harder in order to circulate air throughout your home. This can result in allergens as well as dirt, pollen, and air filter dust spreading throughout your ductwork and having a painful impact on sinuses.
The last way to reduce allergies using filters is to add the specialized kind. Electronic air filters, often known as ionizers or air purifiers, can be incorporated into your HVAC system. These prevent smaller particles from spreading throughout your home and are highly effective at removing contaminants from the atmosphere. Their ability to remove allergens and airborne particles mean they’re especially helpful for asthma sufferers.
Keep Those Ducts Clean
The next way to lessen allergies through your HVAC system is to always keep your air ducts clean. There’s ongoing debate as to whether professional duct cleaning is necessary on a regular basis, but the EPA does recommend cleaning if you see mold growth or if your ducts become clogged with dust and debris. Regardless, you want to make sure your ductwork isn’t impacting your family’s allergies due to hair, insects, pet dander, dust, or anything else.
It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity
Another recommendation for using your HVAC system to reduce allergies is to maintain appropriate relative humidity levels. This is especially key if people in your family have severe allergies, and can be done through the use of humidifiers and dehumidifiers. If it’s too humid, mold and/or mildew can develop; and if it’s not humid enough, particles have an easier time remaining airborne. The goal is the relative humidity in summer of about 45% – 55%.
Light It Up
Finally, you can use UV germicidal lights to help with allergies. These specialized lights can help remove a variety of germs, mold, and fungi living within your HVAC system. Not only does that help your family’s health, but it also allows the system to run more efficiently. The maximum-intensity ultraviolet light prevents microorganisms from growing and spreading.
EHS Can Help You Breathe Easy
Allergies are a fact of life in North Texas, so make sure your home’s air quality is the best possible. According to the EPA, indoor air is up to 70% more polluted than what’s outside. We can assess the air in your home with our Indoor Air Quality Testing, so you have peace of mind that you’re doing everything possible to reduce your exposure to allergies. Contact us with any questions or concerns, and let’s keep allergy season under control at your house.