Kids in Western Pennsylvania are already entering classrooms for the new school year. And you know what that means! Learning, and football, and…germs! As if the school year overlapping with cold and flu season weren’t bad enough, this is no ordinary school year, as the world continues to battle COVID 19. This year, we need to make sure we’re using every weapon in our arsenal to keep the germs at bay and our families healthy. You may not have known this, but your HVAC system can offer several layers of protection against airborne illnesses.
Weaponize Your HVAC System!
Here are 5 ways to use your HVAC system to stay healthy this fall and winter and fight against colds, the flu, and COVID.
1. Circulate your indoor air.
When we’re sealed up inside, the same, stale air is repeatedly pushed through your furnace or air conditioner. Give your HVAC system something fresh to work with whenever possible. Open some windows and let the fresh air move through your house.
When the weather gets too cold to crack a window, use the other means you have to move the air, such as exhaust vents in the kitchen and bathroom. Ceiling fans also keep the air moving within your home.
2. Filter the air in your home.
Every HVAC system uses some means of filtration to prevent it from getting clogged up with dust and other particulates. Replace your filters more often during cold and flu season. We recommend changing them monthly to ensure healthy air quality but consider changing them sooner if someone in your home has recently fallen ill.
If you’re not already using high-quality HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filters, the time to upgrade is now. HEPA filters trap far more dust, pollen, germs, and other airborne particles of any other filters available. Yes, they’re a little more expensive, but it will save you time lost from school or work, as well as some medical expenses, because you’ll be healthier.
3. Clean up!
A dusty HVAC system is more prone to other pollutants – including germs – gathering there, as well. Keeping the areas around your furnace and central air systems helps keep your vents and ductwork clean. Make sure the are around your system is kept clean but also clean your vents and registers.
You can have your ductwork professionally cleaned, but if that’s not an option for you, a DIY cleanup is better than nothing! Remove the vents and registers and clean off both the front and back. You can also use the hose extension on your vacuum and clean into the ductwork as far as it will reach.
However, you should always schedule the seasonal maintenance for your HVAC system twice a year. Our maintenance appointments ensure not only that your system is clean and efficient, but also that it’s not going to break down on you when you need it.
There are efficient, affordable options for purifying the air in your home these days. There are air purifier and UV light accessories that we can install directly into your HVAC system to help purify the air throughout your entire house. UV lights are used by many schools and hospitals within their HVAC systems, as UV light can destroy harmful microbes, as the air passes by the light. They’re easy to maintain, too. The UV light lasts for an entire year, though it does need to be professionally changed because it’s situated within the ductwork.
There are also non-UV light air purifying accessories that can be incorporated directly into your current system to clean the air throughout your home. They, too, are installed within your ductwork and produce ions that react to and destroy microbes, allergens, and particulates. As a bonus, there air purifiers also eliminate odors!
Stand-alone air purifiers can also be purchased at any home improvement store. But their effectiveness is limited to one level of your home, or even just one room, depending on the purifier and the size and design of your home.
5. Manage the indoor humidity.
Some germs thrive in humid environments, whereas others – including the flu and other viruses – survive for longer in dryer air. A review of dozens of studies has demonstrated homes with an indoor humidity level of 40-60% will have fewer flu viruses on kitchen and other surfaces and handles, as well as in the air.
To manage your indoor humidity, you first need to measure your indoor humidity. You can purchase a hygrometer at most hardware and big-box stores, and they’re small and inexpensive. Portable humidifiers can be added to the rooms in your home where you spend the most time to optimize your air quality and turned on when the humidity gets too low.
Using cool mist humidifiers in your bedrooms during the winter also helps relieve coughing and congestion. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using them in children’s rooms during the night when little ones have caught a bug.
Come up with your action plan!
If you’re interested in adding an extra level of protection for your family in the battle against colds, flus, and – of course – COVID, give us a call and we can help you pick the best HVAC solutions for your home and your family.