As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on and everyone continues to work and turn their homes into virtual classrooms, it’s time to make sure you can breathe the cleanest indoor air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air has two to five times more pollutants than outdoor air. This statistic can be unnerving and, coupled with the fact that Americans spend more than 90% of their time indoors, it amplifies the need for cleaner, more comfortable indoor air.
This winter, as temperatures plummet and you seek warmth indoors, remember these tips from MTB Mechanical technicians that will help you breathe easier.
This is no easy task considering the various filter options available. A great place to start is determining the type of filter you need. Options can include the following:
Choose the Right Filter
- Flat panel filters are disposable, flat panels made of a fibrous material such as fiberglass, polyester or another synthetic material in a cardboard frame. While they’re the cheapest filters you can buy, they’re also the least efficient. They’re designed to keep bigger debris particles such as dirt, pollen, pet hair and lint out of your HVAC system.
- Pleated filters are disposable filters with a bent surface in an accordion-like pattern and are usually made of synthetic material or a cotton-polyester blend. Because of their pleats, they have a larger surface area and can trap tiny particles such as mold spores, pollen and pet dander.
- Washable filters are more eco-friendly and usually available only in lower efficiency. They get dirtier faster and you have to wash them on a regular basis. Even with regular washing they are still likely to develop bacteria and mildew, meaning you’ll have to dispose of them sooner.
- HEPA or High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters can capture 99.97 percent of passing particles that are 0.3 micrometers or larger in size. This includes the tiniest contaminant particles, such as smoke particles, along with many viruses and bacteria.
Once you determine the filter type, you’ll also want to consider care requirements and the filter’s level of particle-trapping efficiency or minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). The MERV scale ranges from 1 to 16, with a higher number indicating a more efficient filter. Care requirements are typically listed on the filter’s packaging. They include recommendations on how often you should change or replace your filter based on type of filter, efficiency, how often your HVAC system runs and the number of people and pets in your home. These are important features to consider and you’ll want to make sure the filter you choose fits your lifestyle, household, HVAC system and your ability to change or replace the filter as indicated.
If you need a reminder to change your filter, sign up for MTB’s filter reminders.
Next, consider humidity levels within your home. Dry indoor air is a common problem every winter. It leaves you less comfortable, raises your energy bills and can cause damage to your home. Humidifiers add moisture to your home’s air, increasing the humidity to a healthy level and helps to keep your lips, nose and skin moisturized.
Assess Your Home’s Humidity Level
MTB Mechanical offers a range of products, including whole home humidifiers such as the Aprilaire® 800 Whole House Humidifier. It connects directly to your furnace, and evenly distributes moisture throughout your home. Not only does a low-maintenance whole-home humidifier create a more pleasant environment, it can also save you money. Warm, humid air feels hotter than dry air because of the moisture it contains. And when the humidity in your home is at an ideal level, you can keep your heat at a lower setting and still feel comfortable.
Consider an Air Purification System
Everyone wants their home to be a haven for work, play and sleep. But each time your HVAC system blows air to keep it at a comfortable temperature, a variety of other things, unseen by the naked eye, can accompany that air. From mold and pollen that make you sneeze to viruses and bacteria that can make you sick, there could be more circulating in your air than you bargained for. You can solve this problem by installing a UV germicidal air purification system, like the HALO-LED™, with UV light right inside your ductwork. UV light has been shown to be effective at killing dust mites, bacteria, viruses and mold spores. Once these pollutants pass by the UV light in your HVAC system, they are no longer able to reproduce and cause allergies or illness. UV germicidal systems can be very helpful for people who have hidden mold in their home, allergies, respiratory problems or frequent bacterial or viral infections.
Many buildings and hospitals use UV light as a method of decontamination in ductwork and MTB Mechanical utilizes this same type of system to achieve higher air quality in homes. Unlike other purification systems designed to remove particulate matter, a UV light actually kills mold spores, germs and other air invaders. By working 24/7 to sterilize, UV germicidal lights eliminate 99.9% of the contaminants in your home and can reduce odors. These systems operate silently and virtually maintenance-free, simply requiring a replacement bulb every, one to two years. The system is so efficient that operating it only costs a few pennies per day.
While there are many ways to obtain optimal indoor air quality, this article can only highlight a few. If you’re going to be working from home or stuck inside this winter, you might as well breathe the cleanest, most comfortable air available. Remember these tips from MTB Mechanical to help you breathe easier this winter, and all year long. Schedule an appointment online or call (704) 459-4066 , if you have questions or need assistance with choosing a filter, in-home humidifier or air purification system.