Fall is an excellent time to start thinking about your indoor air quality. With flu season coming up, you may be surprised at how much your heating and cooling system can help keep you healthy.
People are spending more time than ever indoors. That was true even before 2020: According to one study from 2018, Americans spent around 90 percent of their day inside. Now, it’s likely more, and a lot of that time is at home.
There’s plenty you can do every day to help stay healthy. Washing your hands, getting eight hours of sleep, and eating right strengthens your immune system. But, there’s only so far that will take you if your indoor quality is lousy.
So, we’re focusing on using your HVAC system to get your home ready for flu season in this article. We’re including a few DIY strategies and recommending a few products you’ll need your HVAC service technician to install.
We hope this article sheds some light on a few topics you didn’t know about — and, most importantly, helps you build your own strategy for a healthy home.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions about improving your home’s indoor air quality in East Dundee, IL, or anywhere in the Fox River Valley, call or email Compass today for a free consultation.
Humidity is one of the most significant factors in your home’s air quality, but people often overlook it. During flu season, it’s especially important to keep the relative humidity between 40 and 60 percent.
We can talk a lot about all the ways moisture in the air makes a difference, but we’ll focus on viruses and transmission for this article.
The significant factor here is how far small particles travel in dry air versus moist air. In the summer, when it’s humid, virus particles get weighed down by water droplets. That makes them fall to the ground quickly.
But, cold air is always drier than that. And, when you turn on your heater, you’re adding warmth but not moisture. That makes it unnaturally dry.
As a result, it’s way easier for those tiny particles to travel much further before falling to the ground. It’s why more people catch the flu, and other viruses, in the winter. But, you can prevent this at home.
A humidifier adds more moisture to the air. The quick solution is a small plug-in model, but that only works for one room. You can also consider a whole-home model that connects to your HVAC system.
These treat your entire house at once. And, you don’t have to worry about turning them on or off. They’ll do the job automatically.
Your air filter keeps all sorts of dust, dirt, and other junk from circulating all through your house. Changing it once a month prevents it from getting clogged.
Some people let it for longer than that. If you take out the filter and it’s grey, you’ve left it in too long. At that point, you’re just stockpiling all sorts of contaminants.
Even though the standard filters aren’t made to catch particles as small as viruses, you’ll still catch some there. And, you’ll want to get rid of them as soon as possible.
After that, you can upgrade from the standard screens to get better results. You can’t just use the most robust filter possible. Most residential HVAC systems can’t generate enough pressure to push air through them.
But, you can check with your heating and cooling company to see what your system can take. And, there are other ways to use these more substantial screens.
Like the whole-home humidifiers we mentioned before, you can also get an air purifier system that connects to your heating and cooling system. The best ones can eliminate up to 99 percent of all airborne pathogens in your house.
These come with their own blowers, so you can use the strongest filters that your regular system can’t handle. They provide the extra pressure so you don’t lose air circulation.
Before you fire up your furnace for the season, clean in, on, and around your vents. All sorts of contaminants build up there in months between using your AC and your heat. But, once you turn on the heating and cooling system again, all that junk gets blown into your house.
Admittedly, this isn’t the most powerful step you can take to fight the flu. But it’s free and takes just a few minutes. And, you’ll get rid of dust and other airborne particles that can make you feel sick.
Think of it as an easy way to make your home — and your air — just a little cleaner.
All you need to do is wipe each vent with a damp cloth and spray disinfectant into the ducts. That gets rid of anything that would otherwise irritate you once your system kicked it up.
One of the best ways to keep the air clean in your home is to bring in air from outside. Once you close your windows for good, you lose the effect of fresh air blowing through the house and cleaning out all sorts of airborne contaminants.
That’s why we’ve been better off outside than inside when it comes to catching colds or viruses. All the air out there sweeps away those particles and dilutes their concentration.
Of course, you can’t leave the windows open while running the heat. But, an energy recovery ventilator, or ERV, is the next best thing.
We went through many options here, and we don’t expect anyone to run right out and do — or buy — them all. But, with a free HVAC service consultation, you can create the right strategy for your home and your family.
Call or email us at Compass Heating and Air to find the best way to improve the indoor air quality in your East Dundee, IL home.