Breathing Easy: Improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) During Winter Months
Indoor air quality (IAQ) isn’t a top-of-mind concern for most people during winter. Unlike summer, when inside air can be hampered by outside pollutants like wildfire smoke, winter creates the opposite problem: homes and buildings sealed up tightly to keep the cold out and the heat in, simultaneously trapping in allergens, bacteria, pet dander, mould, and other harmful indoor particulate matter.
Without effective IAQ solutions, these closed systems and the poor air quality they create can cause a host of health problems ranging from mild discomfort (headaches, irritation of the eyes and nose) to much more severe issues (respiratory disease, heart disease, and cancer).
While many HVAC pros are focused on providing or maintaining heating services during the winter months, offering IAQ solutions and educating homeowners on their value is an excellent opportunity to grow your business and stand apart from competitors.
Tackling IAQ issues in winter
You can improve indoor air quality by focusing on four strategies: Keeping systems well-maintained, ensuring proper ventilation, controlling humidity, and adding air purification.
Many homeowners may be reluctant to consider IAQ solutions. Many may still need to believe they have an IAQ issue in their home. So, HVAC pros must know how to outline the risks and present valuable solutions.
First and foremost, keeping a home’s existing HVAC systems in tip-top shape is crucial. Regular servicing—including cleaning and replacing filters—helps reduce the spread of airborne particles and ensures more efficient heating and a longer life for the system itself. Of course, opting for HEPA filters is the best choice, as these can remove approximately 99.97% of airborne particulate matter with a size of 0.3 microns.
Pitching homeowners on some of the other IAQ solutions on this list can be a tough sell. Still, regular system serving and maintenance benefits are easier to appreciate.
Ensuring proper ventilation in a home is an effective way to dilute indoor pollutants. Sometimes, that’s as simple as opening a few windows, but that’s not so easy in certain sub-zero climates.
Air-to-air heat exchangers and energy recovery ventilators replace indoor air with fresh outdoor air without significant heat loss. This ensures a constant flow of fresh air, mitigating the accumulation of pollutants while keeping in a home’s heat.
Managing humidity levels is a delicate yet crucial part of improving IAQ. The ideal humidity range for a home is 30-50%. This range reduces the likelihood of mold growth and alleviates dry air problems like dry or cracking skin.
Manage humidity levels effectively by setting up smart sensors throughout the home and integrating them with the home’s HVAC system, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers. This way, the system can automate humidity control and keep it within a healthy range.
Some HVAC systems already have air purification technology built in. Equipping these with HEPA filters and regularly servicing them is critical for improving IAQ.
For other homes, adding standalone air purifiers throughout the home can help dramatically reduce airborne pollutants. However, these units typically only handle one room or small space at a time. This makes them less-than-ideal for larger homes. In those situations, the most effective solution might be upgrading to whole-home air purification integrated into the existing HVAC system.
Creating healthier homes
Winter brings with it some unique IAQ challenges for HVAC systems. But with the right approach, these challenges can be effectively managed and mitigated so homes are healthier spaces.
Here, HVAC pros can embrace their role as educators and problem-solvers to help homeowners improve their IAQ without sacrificing warmth and comfort. Offering a mix of services, including system maintenance, ventilation, humidity control, and air purification, can help you upsell, grow your business, and stand apart from competitors.