Unfortunately for Cheverly, MD residents, the cold and flu season seems to stick around for a long time. Given our long, chilly winters, this situation should come as no surprise, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Unless your home’s HVAC system has been properly equipped to take on cold and flu season, your family could be susceptible to many airborne illnesses that thrive inside the home. You can prep your HVAC system to fight cold and flu season by checking your home’s air filters, measuring humidity levels, and investing in air purifiers.
Get ready to batten down the hatches and give your residential HVAC system a boost in the fight against bacteria and viruses.
Re-evaluate Your Home’s Air Filters
You may be surprised to learn that HVAC system air filters play an integral role in keeping viruses and bacteria at bay. Unfortunately, the air filtration system that you’re trying to upgrade is often the source of contaminants and illness. Your HVAC system can spread contaminated air throughout your home.
During the winter months, you seal your windows and set your heater on full blast, which results in recycled air circulating through every room. Quite often, this stagnant air harbors tiny microbes that can pass through filtration systems and make your loved ones sick.
Changing your home’s air filters is the first step you should take toward preventing disease and infection from spreading from one family member to another. When you change your air filters regularly, you can also ward off allergy and asthma symptoms. You should change your filters every one to three months depending on the size of your home and how many pets live there. The more pets you have, the more often you should change the air filters.
In addition to regular air filter changes, you will want to consider upgraded filter technologies. The filters you are using may not be as well designed to prevent illness as some other type of filters on the market. If you’re not sure what types of filters are available or which ones best prevent illness, call one of our Griffith Energy Services HVAC contractors to discuss your options.
Consider Ultraviolet Light
Homeowners who prefer more advanced HVAC technology that can fight against cold and flu season should look into UV lighting. UV lamps emit ultraviolet rays, which are effective at neutralizing and eliminating harmful microorganisms such as pollen, dust mites, spores, and bacteria.
UV technology is in use around the world as an effective means of preventing the spread of allergens and disease. Due to their effectiveness, UV lamps are now found in HVAC systems worldwide. In fact, you can easily have UV lighting incorporated into your existing HVAC system.
UV lights work by destroying the microorganisms that pass through the light as the air circulates through the home. These microorganisms are responsible for a host of health issues ranging from asthma to the flu. They can also cause foul odors, which can leave homeowners perplexed by strange smells in certain rooms. UV lights take care of these issues: You’ll enjoy more breathable air and an improved indoor air quality throughout your home.
Keep in mind that you still need to change your air filters even though you’re using UV technology. UV lights complement existing air filtration systems, not replace them, so be sure to stick to your air filter replacement schedule.
UV lights are available in both portable room units and whole-home options. A smaller dedicated room unit can be especially beneficial to a family member who suffers from asthma or allergies. These units are typically placed in a bedroom.
An HVAC services contractor can help you install whole-home UV lighting directly into your home’s HVAC system. Since each home is different, the costs associated with installing UV lamps depend upon your home’s size, existing HVAC system, and preferred model.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll have the upper hand this cold and flu season.
Understand How Humidity Matters
When prepping your HVAC system for the winter months, homeowners often overlook their home humidity levels. Proper humidity is crucial to your family’s health.
For example, dry winter air can cause discomfort, whether you’re sick or not. Low humidity leads to dry, itchy skin, throat, and eyes. It can also result in respiratory infections and can trigger asthma.
Worst of all, dry indoor air can make you more susceptible to catching a cold or the flu. In fact, medical research indicates that flu viruses can progress more rapidly and pass from one person to another more easily in dry air. Boosting your home’s indoor humidity can take care of the problem.
In addition, dry indoor air causes damage to your home itself. Low humidity levels can make woodwork, walls, and floors crack. Dry air can also create static shocks that can damage electronic equipment. Drier air feels colder, even if you set your thermostat at a normal temperature. As a result, you turn up the thermostat and get costlier bills.
Whole-home humidity is an ideal solution for any homeowner who has noticed the effects of dry indoor air. Even if you can only afford a portable humidifier, you can still enjoy relief from certain symptoms such as cracked lips, dry nasal passages, and itchy skin.
If the problem persists, however, a whole-home humidifier may be the smartest option. You can feel confident that your whole family is better protected from physical ailments and illness such as the flu, colds, and upper respiratory infections when you have excellent indoor air quality.
Invest in an Air Purifier
Another form of HVAC technology that can do wonders for your family’s health is a whole-home air purifier. Most people associate air purifiers with portable plug-in units. While these appliances are certainly an affordable option for purifying small spaces, your best bet is to invest in a quality whole-home air purifier.
Air purifiers clean circulated air that would otherwise stay stagnant and harbor harmful contaminants such as cold or flu viruses. Since the flu can spread to people standing up to 6 feet away without so much as a cough or sneeze to propel it, a home purification system makes more sense.
Cold and flu viruses are usually spread in crowded conditions that have poor air circulation. This transmission method explains why you’ll find co-workers getting the same illness even if their desks are far apart. Practicing healthy habits such as handwashing, keeping your distance from sick people, and avoiding touching your face certainly help, but these precautions can only go so far.
If you get sick, you need to breathe the cleanest air possible. Airborne pollutants can trigger the body’s cells to release cytokines, proteins that produce inflammation. Cytokines can trigger swelling, runny or stuffy noses, and other symptoms.
Medical research has shown that proper ventilation and airflow dramatically affect how disease spreads indoors. The more stagnant the air is in your home, the easier that air enables diseases to spread. In fact, when someone sneezes or coughs, some viruses can stay in the air for hours at a time. When they finally do land on a surface, these viruses can thrive for another 24 hours or so, posing a risk to other family members.
Keeping your home ventilated is as important as controlling the moisture. Fortunately, you can choose from several different options. Mechanical ventilators, for example, keep air fresh throughout the home. Electronic air cleaners offer exceptional performance and can capture as much as 90 percent or more of airborne particles.
You won’t find a right or wrong way to upgrade your home with purification technology, so speak with one of our Griffith Energy Services HVAC technicians to find out which solution is right for your home. You may need to do something as simple as plugging in a portable air purifier during the winter months until you decide whether whole-home purification is right for your household budget.
If you’re ready to make a difference in your family’s health this year, start by preparing your HVAC system for the cold and flu season. We can help: Call Griffith Energy Services at 888-474-3391.
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