Devastating wildfires routinely hit Washington State. The Eastern side of the state always get’s hit hard, but we are seeing increased wildfires in the Puget Sound region as well.
Poor Air Quality
Scientific modeling and consensus shows poor air quality from smoke may be increasing in the near future. Air pollution, wildfire smoke and allergens are all contributing factors that can create poor air quality. However, there are steps you can take to help keep yourself safe during the smokey season.
Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
“The most important thing a person can do when air quality becomes unhealthy or hazardous is to limit exposure to the dirty air,” says Craig Olson, HVAC & Home Performance expert at Washington Energy Services. “The notion being, when the air gets bad outside, button down the hatches inside.”
The challenge with this strategy is that most homeowners in Puget Sound do not have air conditioning. Therefore they must decide between uncomfortable indoor temperatures or opening windows for airflow when the outdoor air isn’t safe.
Air Conditioning Helps Circulate and Filter Air
When one has air conditioning, it is critical to keep all windows and doors closed, so the AC can provide cooling and keep your home comfortable. This has a double-positive effect on the air quality of the home. First, it allows the home to have a consistent barrier between outside and inside with all windows and doors closed. But, just as importantly, when your AC is running, you are also cleaning your indoor air as it cycles through the filtration system connected to the ductwork. This removes particulates and cleans the air whenever the HVAC blower fan is on. More advanced filters and cleaners can even eliminate harmful indoor air quality problems like VOC’s, mold and finer particulates.
If AC isn’t an option, there are some tactics homeowners can put into play to help themselves, “If AC isn’t in the cards, consider running the furnace fan during the summer to circulate the air inside the home.” Mr. Olson suggests. “You don’t get the cooling and humidity reduction, but it can take the edge off the heat while cleaning the air through the filter system.”
HEPA Filters and Air Purifiers
If you suffer from allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions, it may be wise to invest in a filtering systems with HEPA filters or an air purification system. Along with wildfire smoke, the Pacific Northwest is seeing steady annual increases in total pollen production from plants making our allergy season harder to manage. We are seeing a trend in homeowners electing to add more robust air cleaning to their HVAC systems to help improve their indoor air quality (IAQ).
Clean Air is Very Important – Have a plan!
No matter what, it’s wise to have a plan for poor air quality days during the summer months. We recommend having a strategy for high smoke days, high pollen days and high heat days all of which can trigger poor indoor air quality conditions. Stay safe, have an evacuation plan and make sure you avoid the smoke when you can.