Friday, 26 July 2013

Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality in summer

Air pollution is not just something that effects the atmosphere outside which is basically smog, dust or haze hanging in the air. The truth is that most pollutants are found inside homes and commercial buildings, which quite shockingly can be 10 times more polluted than the air found outside. Indoor air can be polluted due to volatile chemicals, dust, lead, radon, allergens, formaldehyde, etc. These pollutants make their way indoors through shoes, pets, or exist on the surface of carpets, furniture and paint on the walls. A major allergen is found on these items called dust mites which are microscopic in size and contain mold and dander. 

Indoor pollutants will affect people with respiratory problems, seniors and children especially those who are sensitive to these conditions. Other health problems may surface later after repeated exposure to harmful allergens. The need to improve indoor air quality has become important over recent years because we all spend more time indoors. Modern homes are built airtight and that’s the main reason that these pollutants don’t escape from inside. 

During the summer months, you can try boosting the quality of air indoors by minimizing the use of harsh cleaners and air fresheners. These chemicals can linger in the air for long periods of time and can become the major source of air pollution indoors. 

You can follow these simple tips to improve indoor air quality during summer to ensure a safe and healthy living environment for you and your family members.
  • Clean it up – Allergens and chemicals can linger in the air for years, thereby increasing the amount of dust and lead content indoors. You can use a vacuum cleaner with strong suction power, rotating brushes and quality filter to ensure that the dirt and dust does not get blown back out in the exhaust. You need to vacuum high traffic areas like carpets, walls and upholstered furniture where dust can easily accumulate. It’s important to wash the air filter also regularly.
  • Keep dust outside – Shoes can bring in all the dirt, dust and pollutants from outside into your home. Place mats at the entrance to your home so that some amount of the pollutants get trapped on the mat and not on the floors of your home.
  • Mop it up – Mopping the floors of your home cleans up the leftover dust that vacuuming leaves behind. New micro fiber mops with plain, clean water can effectively clean the surface area without the use of harsh cleaners and detergents.
  • Avoid the use of harsh chemicals and cleaners – Household items like lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar can clean and disinfect as effectively as conventional cleaners. These items will not put harsh chemicals in the air.
  • Change AC filters regularly – Proper maintenance of your AC systems can help with improving indoor air quality. It’s very important to clean air filters regularly and replace them with new ones every two or three months.
  • Avoid the use of synthetic fragrances and air fresheners – A combination of various chemicals are used for air fresheners and fragrances which can irritate people’s nasal passage and lungs. You can use natural sources like fresh flowers, essential oils to add a pleasant fragrance indoors.
  • Install plants – A natural way to filter toxins and purify the air is by keeping plants around the house. To get the best results, try incorporating at least fifteen to eighteen plants into a standard home of 1800 square footage.
  • Test for radon – You could have a radon problem if you have a new or old home. This odorless, colorless gas raises the potential for developing lung cancer. If someone in your home smokes, then your indoors has high radon levels. Second hand cigarette smoke or passive smoking is worse as it induces health problems like heart attacks, lung cancer, breathing problems, etc. Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals so whoever smokes indoors in doing harm to themselves and to others around them. Either it’s best to kick the habit or smoke outside.
Maintain healthy levels of humidity – Mold and dust mites love moisture and thrive in very humid conditions. It’s important to maintain around 30%-50% of humidity indoors to keep allergens under control. A dehumidifier will help in reducing moisture and control allergens during the summer months. Other ways to dehumidify would be to use exhaust fans in kitchens/bathrooms, fix leaky plumbing, vent the clothes dryer to the outside, stop over watering the house plants and empty drip pans in your window AC.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Service your Air Conditioner, before summer shoots up your bills

The air conditioner is always the hardest working appliance during the summer months. For day-to-day comfort, we always rely on our cooling system be it at home or at the office. For that same reason, it’s imperative to get it serviced before it starts getting warm and humid. You can hire an air conditioning contractor to inspect your HVAC unit and service it regularly for optimum comfort every day. Since it’s a tough piece of equipment, it is engineered to withstand wear and tear but it often leads to instances where you have to maintain it. Like a car, an AC system requires regular tune-ups to run properly and efficiently.

An air conditioner unit loses about 5% of its original efficiency levels during each year of operation without regular and proper maintenance. This actually means that you may have purchased a unit with 12 SEER rating, but without servicing it regularly, it may be functioning only like a unit with 9 SEER rating. Regular servicing will make a system maintain up to 95% of its efficiency and you can also recover most of the lost efficiency if you maintain it religiously. The cost of an annual tune-up can be quickly recovered in the savings on your electricity bills and repair costs. An efficient AC system will also do a good job of dehumidifying your home or office. 

There are a few important reasons to regularly service your air conditioning unit to maintain its efficiency and working life:-
  • Greater cooling comfort – Improve your AC’s overall operation by hiring a contractor to do regular service checks. A dormant air conditioner will lose the ability to produce cool air. So for comfortable indoors all summer long, have problems fixed quickly by an HVAC expert.
  • Lower cooling costs – Energy costs can sky rocket during the summer months because of using the air conditioner every day. However regular maintenance can reduce energy consumption considerably. Working and cooling efficiency will increase and future problems can also be averted by servicing an AC unit.
  • Minimize chance of breakdowns – Inspecting the system for problems regularly and servicing it can reduce the risk of it breaking down. It will enable the HVAC components to last longer and operate properly.
  • Avoid costly repairs – Small problems in your AC unit could lead to huge repairs later on. A technician can identify issues in your system beforehand and rectify them before it becomes a major problem. That is why regular servicing is important which will save you a significant amount of energy and money in the long run. It has been estimated that more than half of all air conditioner repair calls arise due to insufficient maintenance on the part of the owner.
  • Keep warranties – When having regular maintenance done, it’s mandatory to preserve warranties that come with the AC system. Future problems may not be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, if you allow important service checks to fall by the wayside.
  • Check utility bills – You will no longer dread the hot, summer months if you schedule routine maintenance checks. It will help in maintaining the SEER of your HVAC unit, which will result in high efficiency operation and low energy bills.
To sum it up, a complicated equipment like the air conditioner, even if the most reliable will need regular service and maintenance. This way it will benefit in various ways and recover lost efficiency. The unit will also operate efficiently, have a longer life span, increase comfort, avoid break downs and save energy.