The EPA reports that the average American spends about 90 percent of his or her time indoors. In addition, indoor air quality is among the top five environmental risks to health — it can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Summer heat and humidity can negatively impact indoor air quality, too. It sounds a bit frightening, but worry not. Here’s how to keep your home’s indoor air safe this summer as you beat Tampa’s heat in the cool A/C.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are airborne chemicals that can be hazardous to your health and the environment. They’re year-round concerns, but even more so in the summer when the heat disperses them widely. VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids/liquids, and levels can be up to 10 times higher indoors that outside — many household items emit VOCs. VOCs can also get into your living space through open windows or ventilation systems. In the summer, the main culprits are:
- Insect repellants
- Gas mower exhaust
The list of health impacts is long, from headaches to cancer. To reduce the impact of VOCs, you need a proper indoor air filtration system. Whole-house air filters clarify air through your home’s HVAC system. The type of air filter matters; look for a MERV rating (which indicates overall effectiveness at trapping particles) of 16 or higher to remove chemicals from the air.
The longer air remains in a home, the longer the pollutants also stay. The air exchange rate (ACH) is the number of times outdoor air replaces indoor air per hour. It can tell you how well your home is ventilated; the lower the ACH, the lower the indoor air quality typically is.
To improve your home’s ACH, improve ventilation. Simply opening a window won’t get you the ventilation needed, especially in summer; you’ll need a mechanical ventilation system that circulates fresh air using ducts and fans. Ventilation systems can improve air quality and your comfort. Balanced-type systems reduce the moisture content of incoming air, and supply-type systems both cool and dehumidify outdoor air before it enters your home.
In summer, the relative humidity in your home can rise. This creates condensation on air-conditioned surfaces and dampness in attics as warm air rises and cooler air sinks. High levels of relative humidity can cause health problems, discomfort and a less-hygienic atmosphere.
An indoor relative humidity level of 60 percent or more can also lead to problems like mildew and mold. Ideal indoor relative humidity levels should remain between 20 and 60 percent.
Using a dehumidifier will not only remove humidity, but it’ll also keep your home at a more comfortable temperature — particularly in the summer.
Are you ready for summer’s heat? The professionals at Cox Heating and Air Conditioning have the latest technology for indoor air filtration and can help ensure your Tampa-area home stays comfortable. Contact the HVAC experts at Cox today.