Many people don’t realize that the air inside your home can often times be more problematic for asthma and allergies than the air outside, carrying dust, dust mites and pet dander. In fact, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, eight out of ten people are exposed to dust mites on a daily basis in the US, and six out of ten are exposed to pet dander, playing havoc with those that suffer from asthma. What you might not know is that one of your most valuable allies in figuring out how to reduce asthma symptoms is your air conditioning unit. Lets take a look at some of the factors to look out for:
How to Reduce Asthma Symptoms – Allergen Size and Your Air Conditioner
Allergens are substances in the air that trigger symptoms of asthma or allergies and are measured by size in the unit of microns. Allergens are usually introduced via the air in your home and later settle into furniture and carpeting, only to be stirred up again by an unknowing bystander, possibly triggering an asthma attack. As a general rule-of-thumb, the larger the particle size, the quicker it is to settle out of the air; pollen and dust mites are larger, and settle a lot sooner than pet dander and mold, and are therefore more commonly encountered. When purchasing an air conditioning system, a good HVAC technician will ask questions about people in your family and if anyone suffers from asthma or severe allergies. If someone suffers from asthma, they will likely offer to add a secondary filtration method in addition to your pre-filter (the filter you change every couple of months or so). There are several options including HEPA secondary filters and UV purifiers, so ask your technician to customize the air conditioning system to meet YOUR needs. If it were me, and it is because my wife suffers from asthma, I’d do both.
Asthma Prevention and Your Air Conditioning System
The number one way to figure out how to reduce asthma symptoms and attacks is to remove the source of allergens all together. This may be great in principle, but who really has the heart to get rid of their beloved dog or family cat? Fortunately, your AC can help. Modern air conditioners are designed with energy efficiency in mind, meaning that they run constantly at lower outputs to achieve the same results as your good-old-fashioned air conditioner (the one that could make your house 65 degrees in about ten minutes), but just over a longer period of time and in shorter bursts, thus using less energy. As such, keeping your doors and windows closed constantly actually increases your air conditioning efficiency, but it also does something else, it decreases the amount of allergens that are introduced into your home and decreases the likelihood of an allergen induced asthma attack. As such, if you forget everything else about this article, remember this: if someone in your home suffers from asthma, keep windows and doors closed and the air conditioner on at all times.
Second, investing in a quality pre-filter for your air conditioner is key in the battle to figure out how to reduce asthma symptoms. Make sure to take a look at the numbers associated with it (again, the pre-filter is the filter you replace every month). The higher the number, the smaller the particles that it will remove from the air, but also the harder your system will have to work to push air through that filter, so find the compromise that best suits your family, or give us a call and we can recommend something for you right over the phone. In this article we wrote, you can check out some more information on the importance of a proper air conditioning filter.
Next, invest in three-stage filtration: we recommend a Honeywell pre-filter, followed by a 4-inch honeywell, Low-Micron media filter, followed by Honeywell electronic filtration (to kill mold spores). It will cost a bit extra, but trust me…it is worth the extra money – you’ll be noticeably more comfortable.
Finally, vacuum on a regular basis (once every couple of days for asthma sufferers), invest in a good vacuum (or read our article on how to use a vacuum, which includes good information on which vacuums to invest in if you have asthma) and clean your house routinely. A properly installed air conditioner can effectively remove allergens from the air, but it can’t do anything about the allergens that have settled into your carpet or onto your furniture. By cleaning, your are either directly removing the allergens themselves or stirring them up into the air column, where your AC system can get at them before they trigger an asthma attack.
In the end, figuring out how to reduce asthma symptoms and attacks is a constant battle, but your air conditioner is a valuable weapon to help ensure your family’s health and comfort. At JC Mechanical air conditioning and heating, we take great pride in customizing a system suited for your needs, ensuring that your family is not only comfortable, but healthy for years to come. Give us a call and see what we can do for you – you’ll be happy you did. Our results speak for themselves.