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Balancing IAQ and Home Energy Efficiency

As the seasons change in Fairfax, Virginia, you may notice an increase in allergens and contaminants. Pleasant temperatures and springtime breezes are appealing, so many people keep their windows and screen doors open to take advantage of the airflow. However, it can allow allergens to enter your home and lower its air quality. Balancing IAQ with energy efficiency and a comfortable atmosphere isn’t easy. But with these tips, you can find a compromise:

Reduce the Health Risks

Also referred to as sick building syndrome, poor indoor air quality can affect the health and comfort of those who spend a lot of time at home. In a healthy person, the quality of the air may not be as concerning. But those suffering from allergies will typically notice symptoms like sore throats, congestion or headaches when they’re indoors and breathing the affected air. If anyone in the home suffers from asthma, COPD or another breathing condition, it’s especially important to take action.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some of the most common causes of sick building syndrome include:

  • Inadequate ventilation
  • Chemical contaminants from cleaning products, flooring, upholstery and equipment
  • Various biological contaminants, such as bacteria and microbial growth

Outdoor chemicals can also enter a building and contaminate the air. They include motor vehicle exhaust, combustion products from nearby facilities, and exhaust from plumbing vents.

Let the System Do Its Job

Your HVAC system is designed to remove pollutants from the air. As a result, you’ll enjoy better indoor air quality when it’s running consistently.

During the warmer seasons, the air conditioning system can remove excess moisture from the air and keep humidity under control. When it’s chilly outside, the heating system will push air through a filter into the heating chamber, where it’s then redistributed throughout the home.

Both systems rely on filtration to eliminate dust, dirt, dander, pollen and other small particles. Make sure to swap out the filter at least once every three months to ensure that it can trap those particles. If your air quality still isn’t improving with regular filter changes, an HVAC service technician should inspect your system and test the air quality to determine what’s causing the issue.

Get the Ducts Cleaned

Over time, the ducts that circulate air throughout your home become overloaded with dirt, dust, pollen and other contaminants. The filter in your system will catch some of these particles and prevent them from moving into the ducts. But it can’t always trap everything. Regular duct cleaning can eliminate any of the particles that have been left behind.

An added bonus of regular duct cleaning is that the service can also improve the efficiency of your system. When too much stuff is built up in the ducts, the system has to work harder to move air. As a result, it uses more energy and causes your bills to go up.

Seal the Building

Some people believe that the only way to protect themselves from poor indoor air quality is to seal the structure, eliminating exposure to the outdoor elements and allergens. However, a completely sealed space won’t have much airflow. That can lead to a stale and stagnant atmosphere. When you trap the indoor air, you may not realize that it contains chemicals or contaminants from cleaning supplies, paint or other building materials. Exposure to these potentially harmful substances in high quantities can actually be worse than exposure to allergens from outside.

To better understand this risk, think about cleaning the bathroom with all the doors and windows closed. You’d probably start to feel sick within a few minutes of breathing in the fumes of the chemical cleaning products. Likewise, overexposure to and saturation of indoor chemicals can impact your overall health and well-being.

Schedule a duct cleaning or otherindoor air quality service with one of our skilled technicians at Brennans Heating & Air Conditioning by calling 703-783-0145. We’re here to help you live a healthier live and save energy!

Image provided by Bigstock

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