Poor indoor air quality can cause symptoms such as stuffiness, coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes or a runny nose, and it can be especially detrimental to those with asthma, allergies or other respiratory conditions. With just a bit of work, though, there are a few simple ways that you can improve the indoor air quality in your Florida home and make it more comfortable.
Change the Air Filter on the HVAC System Often
The primary job of the air filter in your HVAC system is to protect the system from dirt accumulation and damage, but it also helps to keep the air in your home clean. It should be checked every month that the HVAC system is used, and replaced when it becomes noticeably dirty or clogged, or about every three months. To improve indoor air quality, choose a filter with a higher MERV rating, or upgrade to an electrostatic or HEPA filter. Also, consider installing a whole-home air cleaner.
Avoid Dust Accumulation
Vacuum your home at least once a week with a machine that uses a HEPA filter, and dust tables, shelves, ceiling fans, wood trim, and other areas with moist cloths or electrostatic wipes. Remove throw rugs once a month and take them outside to beat the dust out of them. Reduce clutter and store extra clothes and other items in sealed containers to avoid dust accumulation. Wash bedding at least once a week, and consider installing washable slipcovers on upholstered furniture.
Keep Humidity at Healthy Levels
Dust mites and many microorganisms prefer high humidity, and by keeping humidity levels between 40 and 50 percent, you can improve indoor air quality. Have your HVAC system inspected and maintained at least twice a year to make sure it is running well and dehumidifies properly, and consider adding a separate whole-home dehumidifier. Use ventilation fans in the bathroom and kitchen when bathing or cooking to avoid adding extra moisture to the air.
For more ways to improve indoor air quality, talk to our HVAC professionals at Conditioned Air, serving the Southwest Florida area.
Nearly every year, the federal government (through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program) offers federal energy tax credits for people who have purchased appliances and other products that are Energy Star–qualified. By installing Energy Star–certified appliances throughout your Florida home, not only can you save up to 30 percent on your energy bills—you can also qualify for these federal energy tax credits.
Incentives for Qualifying Products
For most qualifying HVAC equipment, insulation, windows and doors, the total tax credit is either a predetermined amount or 10 percent off the purchase price, up to a predetermined maximum. Other products, such as geothermal heat pumps and solar systems, may qualify for a credit of 30 percent off the purchase price.
- Air source heat pumps: Split Systems are eligible for a $300 credit, if they have an HSPF of greater than or equal to 8.5, an EER of 12.5 and a SEER of 15. Packaged systems must have ratings of 8 HSPF, 12 EER and 14 SEER or above.
- Central air conditioners: The credit is up to $300 for air conditioners, with at least 16 SEER and 13 EER ratings for split systems, or at least 14 SEER and 12 EER for packaged systems.
- Furnaces: Gas, propane and oil furnaces are eligible for a $150 credit if they have an AFUE of 95 or above. The furnace fan can qualify for an additional $50 credit if it uses 2 percent or less of the total energy that the furnace requires.
- Boilers: Gas, propane and oil boilers with an AFUE of at least 95 qualify for a $150 credit.
- Insulation: New insulation qualifies for a credit of 10 percent of the purchase price, up to $500 total.
- Windows and Doors: Energy Star–certified windows and doors qualify for a 10 percent credit, up to $200. The limit applies to all units installed since 2005.
To learn more about these federal energy tax credits, visit the Energy Star website or talk to our HVAC experts at Conditioned Air. We have been serving the Southwest Florida area, including Naples and Sarasota, since 1962.
Air ducts are a vital component of your home’s HVAC system, and any ducts that are leaking can reduce the performance of the system considerably, increasing your energy costs and making your home less comfortable. Properly sealing your ductwork is a relatively simple process, but there are a few things that you should know first.
Why a Proper Seal is Important
Leaking ductwork can allow up to 30 percent of the air moving through the system to be lost, increasing your heating and cooling bills by up to 40 percent. Additionally, leaks in the ductwork can allow dust, combustion gases from nearby appliances and other pollutants to enter the duct system and be carried throughout the house, reducing your indoor air quality. Properly sealing your ductwork can reduce your energy costs, especially if the ducts run through uninsulated spaces like the attic, basement or a crawl space, and it can improve your home’s indoor air quality.
How to Determine if You Have Leaks
A couple of the symptoms of leaky ductwork are high energy costs, inconsistent temperatures or rooms that are hard to keep heated or cooled. You can also inspect any ducts that are easily accessible and check for damaged tape or mastic at the joints, disconnected or loose joints, holes or other damage, and obvious air leaks. Often, however, the ductwork is hidden in walls or otherwise inaccessible, and you may need a professional to inspect it.
Sealing the Ductwork
Sealing your ductwork can be a difficult job, especially if it’s inaccessible, and it’s often best left to a professional. To do it properly, any loose joints need to be secured, using screws for rigid ducts or the proper clamps for flexible ducts, and each joint should be sealed with mastic or foil tape that is specially designed for HVAC systems. Despite the name, regular duct tape cannot do the job properly. Any holes or other damage should be patched, and kinks or twists in flexible ducts should be straightened.
For more information about sealing your ductwork, talk to our professionals at Conditioned Air, serving Southwest Florida.