I am always saying that time flies. It's been over a year since we got our Aprilaire system installed. Wow! And I have to say that our family has definitely been healthier since. And now, it's that time again. Time to think about winter wellness and ways to improve our indoor air quality. Time to ensure that my family is staying healthy when running back and forth from school and work in the cold.
Just to recap, in August 2017, we had a full suite of Aprilaire products installed in our home. This includes an Aprilaire Ventilation Control System, a whole house humidifier, a dehumidifier, a high efficiency air cleaner, and a Wi-Fi thermostat with IAQ control.
Since then, we have learned the ropes and integrated the system into our smart home. We enjoy being able to ask Alexa or Google to turn up the heat, or tell us the current temperature. But, it's not just the smart home integration that is impressive. It's everything under the hood that keeps our home healthy and comfortable.
Having clean, moist air in the home is even more important in the winter. Running the furnace can dry the air. Couple that with people staying inside more, and you have a recipe for illness. The flu can actually transmit faster in homes without proper humidity. I mentioned before that my sons used to get nosebleeds quite often when they were younger. They were also sick a lot more back then. We did not have a whole house humidifier. And even though I ran one in their room at night, that did not help the rest of the house.
Although our Aprilaire system basically runs itself, there are still things that we have to do to keep our system running smoothly and our family healthy.
Even though it is now January, so far we have had a very mild winter (knock on wood). There is still plenty of time for “real winter” to hit. And when it does, I want to make sure that our home is ready.
5 Things to Do in Winter to Help Your Indoor Air Quality
Flip from Dehumidifier to Humidifier
Hopefully you have done this by now. However, I have been guilty of forgetting. In the summer, the air is made moist by running the air conditioner and the natural humidity outside. Chicago summers can be brutality humid! This humidity ends up inside your home and can make you uncomfortable. Running the dehumidifier brings balance to this and keep the moisture from annoying your family, and even messing up items in your home, like hardwood floors.
In the Winter the air is cold and dry. And since we run our furnace to warm up our homes, it dries out the air even more. Running the humidifier adds moisture to the air to make it more comfortable for us. This is important to keep us breathing normally, keep nasal passages moist, and keep our lungs healthy, which means less sickness. The recommended humidity level is 45-55%. You will notice the humidity change a bit based on the weather outside, and even cooking large meals for holidays which heats up the home and puts steam in the air.
Flip the Switch on the Furnace Damper from Summer to Winter
In addition to changing from using the dehumidifier to using the humidifier, you need to adjust the flow in the furnace ducts. You will notice a lever that says summer or winter (W/S). This flow needs to be open in the winter to allow the humidifier to function, but closed in summer. If you forget to switch it, then your humidifier will have to work harder and probably won't help. If you leave it open in summer, then your air conditioner efficiency will be reduced.
Change the Furnace Filter
This was on my list last year too, because it is very important. Depending on the type of furnace filter you use, you may have to change them lot, and they might not be doing much to help your air quality. However, the filters for the Aprilaire High Efficiency Air Cleaner help filter out 94% of pollen and mold, 72% of airborne bacteria and fungi, and 56% of dust particles….but this only works if you remember to change your filter. 🙂 This filter requires changing only once a year. We went a bit over that, and yikes! I was surprised at the amount of dirt in the filter. This was floating through my air?? Oh my! Changing the filter once a year ensures that it can catch more, so less bad things end up in your air.
Change the Humidifier Water Panel
The water panel for the humidifier needs to be changed as well. This is where water collects before it is incorporated into the air. This filter needs to be changed every 6 months as well.
Clean the Return Vents
I need to learn to look up in my home more often! We have an exhaust fan that runs constantly in all 3 bathrooms. Since they are constantly sucking in air, they can attract a lot of dust. I was shocked when I looked up and saw a layer of dust! So, I recently used the vacuum to clean the one in our 1st floor powder room. What a difference! Do this often to your exhaust fans, and the regular air returns that you should have in each room of your home. You do not want that dust floating through the air.
Dust and Vacuum More Often
Running the heat in the winter causes more dust to settle. Be sure to dust and vacuum more often so there are less dust particles and other contaminants in your home. You will also notice that more dust settles around your electronics, so don't forget to dust well around your TV, stereo, and computers. And while you are at all… clean your computer! You would be surprised how many germs are lurking there.
These are just a few of my tips for ways to improve your indoor air quality. Visit the Aprilaire Winter Wellness site for even more tips and tricks to keeping your home healthy in winter and beyond. Shopping for a new system? Or, not ready to revamp the whole system? Add an Aprilaire Room Air Purifier to clean contaminants and allergens from the air. Use code “KRIS” to save 15% off your purchase!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Aprilaire. All opinions are my own.