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Posts Tagged: indoor air quality

Improve Indoor Air Quality During Wildfire Smoke

Posted On: Filed Under: Cooling, Indoor Air Quality No Comments on Improve Indoor Air Quality During Wildfire Smoke

Many will remember last year when Seattle had the unenviable distinction of having five times worse air quality than Beijing during another year of wildfire smoke inundating the Puget Sound.  https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/air-quality-in-seattle-currently-worse-than-beijing/813714101

Scientific modeling and consensus shows poor air quality from smoke may be increasing in the near future.  While the long term factors (increases in hazy skies, dirty cars and dry coughs during our summers) cannot be solved quickly, there are strategies one can use to help keep loved ones protected during these likely health hazards.

“The most important thing a person can do when air quality becomes unhealthy or hazardous is to limit exposure to the dirty air,” says Chris Baisch, 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 stifling indoor temperatures or opening windows for airflow relief with worse air quality.

When one has air conditioning, it is critical to keep all windows and doors closed so the AC can do its magic and keep the 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. Baisch 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.”

If you suffer from allergies, asthma or other respiratory conditions, it may be wise to invest in enhanced filtering systems like HEPA filters or UV ionizers.  Along with wildfire smoke, the Pacific Northwest is seeing steady annual increases in total pollen production from plants making our allergy season reliably miserable https://www.columbian.com/news/2018/jun/09/pollen-its-getting-worse/.   We are seeing a trend in homeowners electing to add more robust air cleaning to their HVAC systems for these very reasons and more.

No matter what, it is wise to have a plan for poor air quality periods during the spring and 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.

 

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Indoor air quality—it matters

Posted On: Filed Under: Home energy audit No Comments on Indoor air quality—it matters

There are several factors that contribute to poor indoor air quality. Luckily, there are a few simple steps to combat this problem for healthier air at home.

What are some of the causes of poor air quality?

Understanding the sources of poor air quality is the first step in preventing it. The following list features just a few of these unfriendly culprits.

  • Cleaning products and chemicals
  • Insufficient circulation of fresh air
  • Burnable items such as oil, gas, kerosene, wood, or candles
  • Perfumed or aerosol products
  • Smoke—from cigarettes, fireplace, or outside
  • High moisture (this is especially hazardous in the PNW, as damp conditions can create a breeding ground for mold and mildew.)

How does it affect my family’s health?

Poor air quality can manifest in several health-related ways, including eye, nose and throat irritation, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. More seriously, asthma symptoms—particularly in children—can be worsened. In serious cases, homes with poor air quality can contribute to respiratory or cardiovascular disease or cancer. In short, poor air quality shouldn’t be ignored.

What can I do to prevent poor air quality in my home?

If you suspect poor air quality in your home, don’t panic. Here are two of the easiest, most effective ways to circulate cleaner air.

Get your air ducts cleaned.

You might be surprised by the amount of dirt, debris, and hair that can build up in your air ducts over time. Air duct cleaning helps produce healthier air flow and reduces allergens in your home. Washington Energy Services recommends getting your ducts cleaned at least every two years—more frequently if the home contains smokers, shedding pets, water contamination, damage to HVAC system, residents with allergies or asthma, recent home renovations, or remodeling. Book a duct cleaning here.

Change your air filters regularly.

This simple task can make a big difference in your home’s air quality. While it would be easy to make generalizations about how often you should change your air filters, it just isn’t that easy. The frequency depends on the size of the filters, your HVAC system specifications and usage, whether you have allergies, the presence of shedding pets, and more. Lean on our experts to help you determine the right filter and frequency. Then sign up for our Automatic Filter Replacement Program for complete ease and peace of mind.

We’ll send you fresh filters when it’s time to change them out, saving you time and money, extending the life if your furnace, reducing your energy bills, and most importantly, helping you create a healthy home.

Schedule a Home Energy Audit.

Controlling where and how fresh air enters your home is a major concern when it comes to air sealing and making your home more energy efficient. The energy auditor calculates the required air changes per hour based on a number of factors including the size of the home and number of occupants. The auditor makes sure that the home has the required fresh air for the occupants and for the combustion appliances before and after the weatherization air sealing has been performed.

Strategic air sealing is used to prevent the infiltration of “dirty” or “contaminated” air. Top priorities are the obvious areas; garages, crawl spaces, attics and even basements in some circumstances. Learn more about our Home Energy Audits.

Your home’s air quality is crucial to the health of your family. Washington Energy Services has the products and services to help you breathe a little easier—and cleaner.

Schedule your free estimate

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Improving your home’s performance

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating, Furnace, Home energy audit No Comments on Improving your home’s performance

 

Undertaking a home energy audit creates a baseline for your home’s performance. Our Home Performance Specialists will seek out drafts or leaking ductwork. Once found, Washington Energy Services is able to seal your home so that you aren’t wasting expensive heating or cooling energy. By insulating and air sealing first, you will make your home more comfortable and reduce your utility bills for years to come. Plus, you’ll be able to install a smaller furnace or air conditioner when it’s time to replace that equipment, saving you even more. A comprehensive home energy audit will scientifically determine how much air leakage exists in your home and the current insulation levels and quality of installation–and how you can improve.

Duct sealing & replacement

Duct work repair seattle washington energy services

Our certified technicians are experts in sealing your home’s ducts to optimize air flow. Duct work must be well sealed, insulated, and balanced to ensure your home’s heating and cooling systems work as efficiently as possible. Most homes have leaky duct work and insufficient air flow, which results in an uncomfortable living environment — regardless of the thermostat setting. A duct system that is properly sealed can make your home more comfortable, energy efficient, and deliver cleaner air.

Indoor air quality (IAQ)

Poor ventilation increases pollutant levels. Sources that emit gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of IAQ problems in homes. Poor ventilation can increase levels of these pollutant levels by not directing them outside and by not bringing in enough “fresh” outdoor air to dilute indoor pollutants. High temperature and humidity can also play a role. Indoor air pollutants can cause a variety of health problems including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, asthma, and even eventually respiratory disease, cancer, and heart disease. Our Home Energy Specialists have been trained to diagnose the indoor air quality of your home and properly treat it.

If you are concerned about your home’s performance, give us a call at 800-398-4663 or contact us online to get started with a home energy audit.

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