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airborne pollenWith so many plants blooming, summer can be a difficult time for allergy suffers in Southwest Florida. While there is not much you can do about the pollen counts outside, there are several simple ways to control summer allergies inside your home, creating a comfortable retreat for the worst days.

Service the Air Conditioning System

Closing the windows and using the air conditioner when pollen counts are high is one of the best ways to control summer allergies, but if your system is not properly maintained, it can actually make the problem worse. Pollen, dust and other allergens can accumulate in the air handler, air filter and evaporator, and can then be distributed throughout you home when the system is used. Have your air conditioner inspected and serviced at least twice a year, which should include cleaning the coils, replacing the air filter and cleaning the air handler. Between service visits, change the air filter yourself every two to three months.

Use Hypoallergenic Linens

Choose hypoallergenic mattress covers, pillows, sheets and other bedding products, and wash them weekly to minimize allergens. Remove unnecessary clutter in your bedroom and closet to reduce the surfaces that can accumulate allergens, and when working outside, wash your clothes immediately, rather than storing them in a hamper, to eliminate excess pollen. Store seasonal clothes and bedding in sealed bags or bins to minimize dust and allergen accumulations.

Clean Often

Vacuum your home at least weekly using a machine with a HEPA filter, and dust often using electrostatic wipes or moist cloths. Whenever possible, use wood, vinyl or tile flooring, instead of carpets, to reduce allergen accumulations. When softer surfaces are desired, add throw rugs and take them outside monthly to beat the dust and pollen out of them.

At Conditioned Air, our team can help you control summer allergies with regular air conditioner maintenance, air cleaners, ventilation systems and more. Contact us today for service in the Southwest Florida area, from Bradenton to Marco Island.

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calculate energy usageElectricity costs can be significant in Southwest Florida, and if you would like to minimize your utility bills, the best way to start is by calculating your energy usage. Every appliance, light and electronic device has its own electricity requirements, and the first step in calculating your energy usage is determining what that figure is for each device.

Using the EnergyGuide Label

Many appliances and electronics, including large appliances like air conditioning systems, have a yellow EnergyGuide label that makes determining energy usage simple. For electrical devices, the label will list estimated yearly energy usage in kilowatt-hours, which are the same units used on your electricity bill. To determine a device’s monthly usage, simply divide that number by 12, and to determine its daily usage, divide by 365.

Using Wattage

If no EnergyGuide label is present, check the device for a label listing its electrical requirements, which is often found near the electrical cord. Many products will list the device’s wattage. To convert watts to kilowatts, simply divide by 1000. For example, a coffee maker that uses 800 watts would use 0.8 kilowatts of power. To find the kilowatt-hours used by a device, multiply the kilowatt rating by the number of hours the device is used daily. For example, the coffee maker that is rated for 0.8 kilowatts would require 2.4 kilowatt-hours of electricity a day when used for 3 hours.

Using Amperage

Some devices do not list wattage, so it must be calculated by multiplying amperage and voltage. For most devices, the voltage will be 120, though larger appliances may use 220 or 240 volts. A device that uses 5 amps at 120 volts would require 600 watts of power, while one that uses 0.5 amps would require 60 watts. Smaller devices may be rated in milliamps, which must be divided by 1000 to find the amps. Once the wattage is found, the kilowatt hours can be calculated, then simply add all your devices to calculate your total energy usage.

For help with calculating your energy usage, or reducing it, contact our team at Conditioned Air, serving Southwest Florida.

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houseplants improve air qualityMany of today’s building materials, furniture and flooring products contain potentially harmful chemicals that can off-gas for days, weeks or even longer after installation, and with homes that are highly insulated and tightly sealed to improve energy-efficiency, the effects of these chemicals on indoor air quality are significantly greater. In studies by NASA, the Associated Landscape Contractors of America and others, however, it has been found that common houseplants can help clean the indoor air, with as little as one plant per 100 square feet. While some only remove one or two chemicals, the best air-purifying plants can remove multiple chemicals.

Garden Mum

Also known as the Florist’s Chrysanthemum, this plant is effective at removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia, toluene and xylene from the air. All of these chemicals can be harmful in large amounts, causing symptoms like nausea or dizziness, serious illnesses, or even cancer.

Dracaena

Most types of Dracaena can remove benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air, while some, like the Red-Edged Dracaena, can also remove toluene and xylene.

Snake Plant

Requiring minimal care and only occasional watering, the Snake Plant is one of the most resilient air-purifying plants, and it can remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene and xylene.

Peace Lilly

This flowering plant can remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia, toluene and xylene from the air, but it can also release pollen, which may be problematic for allergy sufferers.

Ficus

Also known as the Weeping Fig, Ficus plants can remove formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air, and some types can also remove benzene and trichloroethylene.

All these air-purifying plants should be used with care, as they can potentially be toxic to pets. Non-toxic alternatives, like Spider Plants, Boston Ferns or Bamboo Palms can remove formaldehyde, xylene and toluene, while others, like the Barberton Daisy, can remove benzene and trichloroethylene, allowing you to combine multiple plants for the best results.

To learn more about air-purification products and how they can work with your HVAC system to improve indoor air quality, talk to our HVAC experts at Conditioned Air, serving Southwest Florida.