With swirling concerns about COVID-19 and our health, more people than ever have focused their attention on an important subject: indoor air quality. We know now that COVID-19 spreads in part through small droplets we exhale when breathing, speaking, and coughing, and that the virus might linger in the air for some time. Ideally, the best way to keep COVID out of your home is to avoid unnecessary trips, reduce time spent in crowded public places, and to practice good personal hygiene combined with appropriate distancing.
Even so, many homeowners worry about not only how to prevent COVID-19 from circulating in their home, but how to breathe easier indoors regardless of the disease risk. It’s well-known that indoor air quality can affect everything from our health to the quality of our sleep. So, what can you do? Let’s look at a few tips for how to stay healthy in the home during this uncertain time and beyond.
Skip the Split System
Mini-split systems that only cool one room or space in a home can be more efficient in some cases, but when it comes to air quality, they aren’t the best. With a central HVAC unit, you can take advantage of better filtration technology to better control the quality of the air in your home. While not every property is set up for a ducted, centralized AC system, a reliable HVAC contractor can provide you with options for transitioning to a central solution you can better control.
Maintain Your System Regularly
Keeping your air conditioner and furnace in good working order is an important part of protecting air quality — and your comfort. Over time, your equipment will gather large amounts of dust, which could end up circulating back into your home. With that, dust could come allergens and pathogens. Periodic service visits and equipment cleaning, taking place approximately once every six months to each year, will minimize these accumulations and make it easier to maintain a healthful home.
Choose the Best Filtration Options — And Change Them Regularly
When it comes to COVID-19 and health at home, one of the proactive measures you could take concerns your air conditioning filters. Since the coronavirus circulates on the air, a strong filtration solution could trap the virus particles and prevent them from re-entering your home’s air supply. The most useful solution for this application is HEPA filtration, although home HEPA HVAC filters can be expensive and difficult to retrofit on some systems. In other cases, MERV filters with extremely high ratings may be able to trap very small virus particles. Although you should not rely solely on filtration to keep COVID out, they may have an important role to play. Don’t forget to change your filters frequently, too.
Have Your Ducts Cleaned
Is dirty air circulating through your ducts? Dust, mold, and mildew can all accumulate in your ducts over many years, and the problem may be worse if you smoke indoors or have pets. A duct cleaning service will use special tools to flush these contaminants from your vents to provide you with a clean slate.
Open the Windows from Time to Time
Poor ventilation is one of the primary causes of poor indoor air quality. Many, including the EPA, suggesting that homeowners periodically open their windows to allow fresh air to ventilate the house. Naturally, you’ll want to switch your HVAC system off during this time. However, especially when the weather is agreeable, opening your windows can be a smart way to “air out” harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other particles that might detract from healthy air.
Portable Air Cleaners May Contribute to Improved Air Quality in the Home
Home air purifiers have a somewhat dubious reputation, as the manufacturer claims often overstate what room purifiers can capably accomplish. According to the EPA, however, they may have a role to play in keeping homes safer during the pandemic. While the output of air purifiers should not point directly to anyone in the room, their high-grade HEPA filters should still trap virus particles. Thus, while they will not provide any guarantees to prevent transmission, they may reduce the amount of risk if the virus enters the home.
Guard Against COVID-19 for Your Health with Better AC Practices
Protecting your health and that of your family is crucial, and even more so today. Although the best measures to keep out COVID-19 for your health are those centered around personal behavior, you can still set up your HVAC systems to provide air as clean as possible. From periodic duct cleaning to the use of HEPA filtration or very high-efficiency MERV filters, there is much you can do today to make a change for a healthier home and cleaner air. Explore these options today, and don’t forget to find a qualified HVAC contractor to answer your questions and address any concerns.