You already know allergy season is the time of year for sneezing, congestion or a runny nose and red, itchy eyes. However, winter also presents risks for your respiratory system -- in addition to allergens, you have to deal with cold, dry air.
With humidity at a minimum, your indoor air quality suffers. Low humidity levels inside your home aid the transmission of airborne viruses, causes dry skin, chapped lips, and other symptoms. You can also blame dry air for your bad hair days and static-clingy clothes. Our homes aren’t immune to the effects of dry air, either. An arid climate pulls moisture out of wood. That’s why your floors creak, and your door jambs shift.
Take extra precautions this season to safeguard your health and make your home more comfortable.
How to Combat Dry Winter Air and Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
Maintain Adequate Humidity
Use a hygrometer: A hygrometer is a simple device to help you monitor your indoor humidity levels. Ideally, you should maintain relative humidity between 30% and 50%. That means the air contains roughly half of the amount of water vapor it can carry.
Add water vapor, naturally: Don’t let steam from your dishwasher go to waste. Instead of using the heat-dry feature, open the dishwasher when it completes a cycle to release steam heat into your home. Similarly, you can hang-dry your clothes, allowing damp garments to moisturize the air.
Install a humidification system: A whole-house humidifier operates in conjunction with your central heating system to control humidity levels throughout the home. In addition to helping protect your health, balanced humidity will make your home feel warmer, so you can bump down the thermostat several degrees to save energy.
Upgrade Your Air Filter
Our homes are sealed up during winter more than any other time of year. That means stagnant air isn’t going out and fresh air isn’t coming in. To better control the amount of dust and allergens circulating throughout the home, consider fortifying your air filtration.
Use a filter with a higher MERV rating: The minimum efficiency reporting volume is how the HVAC industry measures a filter’s efficiency. The MERV ranges from 1 to 20. The higher the MERV, the smaller the particle it can trap. Cheap, disposable furnace filters typically have a MERV of 2 to 4. That’s enough to protect your furnace from dirt buildup but not sufficient to improve your indoor air quality. For that, you’ll need a filter with a MERV of 7 to 10. (Caution: A filter with a MERV any higher than ten may hinder your HVAC’s performance. Consult an HVAC professional to determine if your central heating and air system can accommodate a high-performance filter.)
Install an air purifier: While an air filter will remove dust and other contaminants, it can’t eliminate certain bacteria. An air purifier offers another layer of protection. It uses ultraviolet light to sanitize air as it passes through your central heating system. Air purification systems are especially beneficial to your household members who are elderly or who have weakened immune systems.
Turn to the Pittsburgh Indoor Air Quality Experts
Gillece Services is happy to assess your indoor air quality to help determine the solutions that are right for you. Our advanced systems help control humidity levels and eliminate airborne viruses and bacteria. Likewise, our professional duct cleaning services can remove dust and dirt buildup within your ductwork to dramatically improve your indoor air. To schedule your appointment, call (412) 831-6199.