How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Lungs and CloudsEveryone should be concerned about the quality of the air in their home, from those in Georgetown and Cedar Park, to those in Round Rock and other parts of Austin. Air conditioning is an important part of achieving quality air, but it’s not the only factor. The four factors that are considered when determining indoor air quality are temperature, odor, cleanliness, and humidity.

With high air quality, you’ll have air that is comfortable and clean. It can’t be overstated; clean air has a tremendous impact on your overall health. The air you breathe constantly circulates through your respiratory system and your blood. Poor air quality leads to poor health. So, it makes sense that you’d want to do whatever you can to improve the air quality in your home. Read on to find a number of ways to do just that.

Use Air Cleaners and Dehumidifiers

Dehumidifiers work by extracting water from conditioned air. By doing so, a dehumidifier allows you to control the humidity of the air in your home. Since air contaminants like mold and dust mites thrive in high humidity areas, lowering humidity can help you prevent their spread. It’s recommended that you try to keep your home at anywhere from 30% to 50% humidity in order to achieve this effect.

It’s also worth mentioning that one of the easiest ways for the humidity in your home to get out of control is a leak. That’s why it’s recommended that you fix any leak in your home as soon as possible. Check your roof, basement, and foundation once a year to catch leaks that might not be obvious.

Air cleaners, also known as air purifiers, come in a variety of types, all using different technologies. What they all have in common is that they’re designed for the specific purpose of cleaning your air. Air cleaners suck air through a filter and then release back out air that has had pollutants filtered out of it. They require regularly cleaning the filter inside them but other than that, air filters are an out of sight, out of mind, easy way to make your air more pure.

Improve Ventilation in Your Home

Usually, when people use their air conditioners, they keep all their windows and doors closed in order to maximize what they’re getting out of the air conditioner. This makes intuitive sense because with windows and doors open, the cold, conditioned air will escape and the air conditioner will have to run more in order to keep the house cool. But air conditioners don’t generally pull air from the outdoors. Air is just cycled through the home and through the air conditioning system.

Ventilation is important because it allows the pollutants that are filtered out of the air to be deposited back outside. Poor ventilation can lead to a buildup of containments in the conditioned air. Consider cracking a few windows when weather permits in order to keep air-ventilated in your home, especially during times when pollutants will be high, such as allergy season, or when painting your home. If the weather doesn’t allow for cracked windows for long periods of time, even keeping the windows open for 5 to 10 minutes a day can make a world of a difference. Window and attic fans can also be effective ways to increase ventilation.

Especially when water vapor is being introduced into the air, good ventilation is essential. This is why you should keep a window open when you cook, wash dishes, shower, and run the washing machine.It’s also worth making sure there isn’t a serious ventilation flaw in your home’s design. This refers to checking that any furnaces, fireplaces, gas stove-tops, exhaust fans, and other such appliances are vented away from any windows or air conditioning intakes.

Keep Your House Clean

Machines like air conditioners, air purifiers, and dehumidifiers can do a lot of the work for you when it comes to preventing pollutant build-up in your home. But don’t make the mistake of undervaluing the effect of manually cleaning your home regularly. Chemicals and pollutants often enter and build up in houses through dust and dirt, so clean your floor and dust the surfaces in your home to remove these pollutants.

A vacuum with a HEPA filter can go a long way when it comes to removing dirt and dust from your floor. A good vacuum can remove lead, toxins, pollen, and many other contaminants from your home. Use your vacuum twice a week for the best effect and don’t forget to get the walls, the edges of the carpet, and the creases of your furniture, as these are places where people often forget to remove high concentrations of dust and dirt.

Mopping the smooth surfaces in your home, especially your kitchen, can get dirt and dust that your vacuum missed. Micro-fiber mops can do even more work when it comes to picking up containments. Mop your kitchen once a month to keep it clean and your air quality will improve.

Don’t forget to clean your sheets, pillow covers, and any other washable fabric in your home, as these will collect dust and dirt with time. And remember to change the air filters in your air conditioning system every two months or so, to make sure your air conditioner is filtering air as best as it can.

Lastly, the best way to prevent dust and dirt build up in your home is to keep it from coming in at all. Place a large door mat out in front of your front door and encourage the members of your household to get into the habit of using it.

Invest in an AC with a High SEER Rating

Not all air conditioning is made the same. As technology progresses, new air conditioner technology becomes available that can improve your air quality over what a standard air conditioner can. The SEER rating of an air conditioner rates its efficiency. ACs with a higher SEER rating can run with less power, more often, effectively keeping the air in your home constantly circulated. This means more air is running through the filters and more pollutants are being filtered out.

High-efficiency air conditioning systems are more expensive than more run of the mill models but with greater energy efficiency comes saving in utility bills, so this high initial cost will eventually be paid off with enough use. Especially high-efficiency systems, such as those with SEER ratings 16 and above, have variable speed motors that do even more for air quality. These can more efficiently control the airflow in your home so that air is circulated and filtered better.

In addition, purchasing a higher quality air conditioner can lead to higher quality air through better ventilation. As previously mentioned, most air conditioning units simply cycle the air indoors and don’t take in air from outdoors. But air conditioners with advanced systems can introduce air from outside through air intakes. So with a better air conditioner, you’ll have air that is consistently circulated, filtered, and cycled through with a high level of ventilation. Better air conditioning in Austin is one of the best things you can do to improve your air quality.

Other Methods

In addition to the above methods, there are a number of things you can do to improve your air quality. Outlined below are some of these methods.

  • Test for radon: Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that can potentially increase one’s risk for lung cancer. It can be found in large soil concentrations and potentially granite countertops as well. All homes are at risk of radon buildups. The chance that your home has a high concentration of radon isn’t high but because the effects of such a thing are significant, it’s worth testing for. Luckily, testing is easy and relatively inexpensive.
  • Avoid synthetic fragrances: Air fresheners, artificially scented laundry products and kitchen cleaners, they all contain a number of chemicals that may act as unnecessary pollutants in your home. Many of these chemicals may not even be listed on the list of ingredients. Switch to naturally scented products if you want to avoid introducing potentially harmful chemicals into your home. If you enjoy using candles to improve the odor in your home, go for natural, soy or bee-wax based candles, as opposed to petroleum wax candles.
  • Make your home smoke-free: As one might assume, one of the biggest positive changes you can make to improve the air quality of your home is to stop smoking in or around it. Cigarette smoke contains a wealth of chemicals with a number of well documented disadvantageous effects on the human body. Second-hand smoke is dangerous, and keeping it away from your home will greatly improve its air quality.
  • Introduce House Plants: House plants are a great way to give your home both better décor and better air quality. Because plants naturally generate oxygen, they help introduce clean air into the air supply of your home. One plant for every 50 feet in your home could significantly reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds in your home. Four plants that have been shown to be particularly effective at filtering out toxins are English ivy, variegated snake plant, peace lily, and florist’s chrysanthemum.

Air Quality and Air Conditioning Repair in Austin

As we’ve seen, there is a large variety of ways in which you can take steps to improve the quality of your air. From dehumidifiers and air purifiers to better cleaning habits and product choices, you can have a large effect on the indoor air quality of your home. With a few changes, some as simple and cheap as not using artificial air fresheners, you can achieve greater health and comfort in your home.

Air conditioning is one aspect that has a great effect on your air quality. Making sure your air conditioner is in tip top condition year-round will ensure that air is properly filtered. Well-filtered air is the air that contains the least amount of pollutants possible. If you live in Austin, AC repair doesn’t have to be expensive or frustrating. At AC Express, we can get you air conditioning repair in Austin quickly and inexpensively, so that you can keep the air in your home well filtered and clean. Call today! (512) 866-5520