IAQ Solutions that Make a Big Impact for Allergy Sufferers & Your Health!
Our team talks a lot at different times of the year about indoor air quality, also known as IAQ, and the AC season is one of those times. For homes that are mostly kept closed up during the summer while running the air conditioner, indoor air pollutants and contaminants created by a variety of sources can be as great of a concern as it is during the winter, when our homes are closed up tight and the heat is running regularly. And then, of course, there’s seasonal and year-round allergies to consider!
In this post, we’d like to briefly review the sources of poor indoor air quality, and highlight the IAQ product solutions that are currently most popular with our customers. Some of this may sound familiar to our readers, but we feel it’s a good idea to periodically touch base on improving the environment in our homes – especially when we have something new to say!
We’re glad to report that while our IAQ product line has been relatively stable, effective, and reliable for a while now, there are a couple of ‘newer’ products, with good track records now established, that our team feels comfortable adding to the mix. Please read on for a quick overview of what’s trending in the land of IAQ…
Why Homeowners Should Be Thinking About IAQ
Understandably, IAQ products often take a back seat to heating and cooling equipment, but their importance is becoming more and more recognized by homeowners. Their role in helping to improve comfort levels, control utility bills, and create a healthier indoor environment, in many cases is no longer open for debate – assuming that the products are well chosen and professionally installed and maintained.
Indoor air quality can be affected by the presence of a variety of substances, gases, chemicals, and more. Their sources around the home vary, including construction materials, paint and stains, carpeting, pets, cleaning products, cooking, pollen, cigarettes, soaps, perfume, polish, and printer products, to name a few. Several of these sources give off gases that are classified as VOCs, volatile organic compounds, which like many other indoor air pollutants can be harmful to your health if present in high enough levels.
Poor IAQ can be impacted by the presence of:
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Dust buildup
- Mold and pollen
- Animal dander
- Formaldehyde (which can outgas from construction materials and other household products
- Airborne and surface bacteria and viruses
- Gases from cooking and heating
- Smoking products
- Radon gas
- Lead and asbestos
Homeowners with acute sensitivities or respiratory conditions may be especially susceptible to experiencing reactions when indoor air quality drops to poor levels. However, poor IAQ may be experienced in many different ways by all residents, from the impacts of dry air, excessive dust, and reduced comfort levels, to higher utility bills, and more.
IAQ Solutions Trending with Denver-Boulder Homeowners
Here’s an overview of proven, effective, central indoor air quality products that our team at Save Home Heat recommends and that are popular with our customers:
High Efficiency Media Filters Are Becoming Standard
High efficiency media filters that are 5” thick are a significant upgrade from 1” disposable filters. These furnace filters feature efficiency ratings as high as MERV16, which is often specified in hospital applications. Filters with ratings of MERV11 and MERV16 are both common with our customers, with the decision based on the airflow capabilities of the existing system, as well as price. For those who opt to continue with 1” filters, our service team has found that a MERV8 rating is often a good choice of filter.
Whole-Home HEPA Air Filters for Furnaces or Independent IAQ Systems
HEPA filters, short for “high efficiency particulate air” filters, which were once known only for clean room and other high tech applications, are now available as another furnace filter option for home systems. HEPA filter efficiency ratings are in the MERV17+ range, and in addition to providing very high performance air filtration, are also designed to be installed on whole-home systems in a manner that does not impact airflow, in spite of the very dense nature of these highly effective, top-end media filters.
HEPA Filters For Homes With Hot Water Heat!
Whole-home HEPA filters can also be installed in homes that don’t have a ducting system, such as those heated by a hot water boiler (with baseboard heaters, radiant floor, etc.). This can be accomplished by installing an independent, scaled back ducting system dedicated to indoor air quality. These whole-home systems often incorporate a high efficiency air filter such as a HEPA or a MERV16 filter, plus a central air purifier and a central steam humidifier; in some cases, even an energy recovery ventilator, as well.
Central Air Purifiers: A Higher Level of Protection
Central air purifiers are a great complement to virtually any high efficiency air filter. The central air purifier that our team recommends employs a photocatalytic oxidation process using a proprietary catalyst material. It is proven to be highly effective in destroying a wide range of air- and surface-borne viruses and bacteria, and also at neutralizing many common VOCs. A central air purifier will also help improve the performance of your furnace filter, and it’s worth noting that the model that we install is somewhat unique in that it treats all of the air in a home, not just air passing thru the ducting system.
Central Humidifiers Cover Important Heating Season Ground!
Maintaining proper humidity in your home during the heating season can reduce the viability of airborne viruses and bacteria, decreasing the risk of those in your home catching the cold or flu. There are a host of other benefits, including reducing airborne dust and static shocks, reducing irritated eyes and throats due to dry air, improving overall comfort levels, and helping to control heating costs, too. Depending on the application and the customer’s needs, standard flow-thru or steam-powered humidifiers are both popular choices of the homeowners we serve. During the winter, a properly sized central humidifier can potentially have a big impact on improving your indoor air quality.
Energy Recovery Ventilators are a Proven Fresh Air Solution
Energy recovery ventilators, or ERVs, are another product that’s gaining traction in our market, in particular with – but not limited to – homeowners who have very tight homes and who have concerns about having enough fresh air indoors. Even with properly operating exhaust fans around the house being used regularly (kitchen, bathrooms, workshop, etc.), these may not always be enough to naturally draw sufficient outside air into the house. Having sufficient levels of fresh, outdoor air routinely introduced into your home has been shown to be an important contributor to good indoor air quality, and ERVs are a great solution that conserves indoor heat and humidity.
Like all of the above products, ERVs can be connected to an existing central furnace system or to an independently ducted IAQ system. This means that all of the above benefits can often be enjoyed in homes that are heated by equipment such as a hot water boiler or mini-splits, as well!
The Right IAQ System for Your Metro Denver-Boulder Home
Indoor air quality promises to continue growing as an important aspect of home comfort systems. Products such as media air filters, central humidifiers, and the other IAQ solutions mentioned above are often a good fit for Boulder-Denver area homes. With over 40 years under our belts serving a wide range of Metro Area homes and families, you can trust the experience and the strong commitment to customer satisfaction of our team at Save Home Heat.
To learn more about proven, central indoor air quality products, or to schedule a highly informative, low-pressure, free install quote, please contact our team today.