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Two Easy Ways To Protect Indoor Air Quality During Winter

Your furnace may be keeping you warm this winter, but that doesn't mean it's providing you with the best indoor air quality (IAQ). In fact, the quality of air in your home can worsen in the winter because the windows are generally shut all season, trapping in an assortment of pollutants such as dust, VOCs, and dust mites. If you or someone in your household suffers from a breathing condition or you simply want to ensure you remain healthy during the winter, here are two easy ways to protect the IAQ in your home.

Upgrade Your HVAC Filter

You probably already know you should clean or replace your furnace's air filter on a regular basis. What you may not know, however, is that investing in a better quality air filter can go a long way towards removing allergens and other substances that may be lowering the IAQ in your home.

Air filters are rated using the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) system. The higher the filter's MERV rating, the better it is as removing particulates, odors, and other things that may be affecting your home's air quality.

The average home uses filters with a 10 MERV rating. If someone in your home has allergies, suffers a breathing condition (e.g. asthma), or smokes, then you may want to upgrade to a filter with a 12 MERV rating or higher. It's important to note that the higher quality filter will make your furnace work harder—and thus use a little more energy—but it will make the air more comfortable and healthier to breathe.

Manage Humidity

The second easy thing you can do to improve IAQ is keep the humidity in your home at around 40 to 50 percent. Unlike air conditioners that cool the home by removing water from the air, furnaces depend on moisture to help it heat up the indoor space. The problem is that if the humidity gets too high, your home may start suffering from mold, mildew, and similar problems. At the same time, though, if the humidity gets too low, it may aggravate respiratory problems.

You can purchase a hygrometer to determine what the humidity levels are in your home at any one time and take measures to increase or reduce it as necessary. For instance, if your home is consistently dry, you can purchase a whole-house humidifier to increase the moisture level in the air. Not only will it improve IAQ, but it may increase your furnace's efficiency.

For more tips on protecting your indoor air quality or to have your furnace serviced, contact a local HVAC company like Jess Kerley Heating and Air Electrical.