Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality

indoor air quality

Breathe easy when spring allergies keep you inside

Not everyone flings open their windows to welcome the new spring season. Nearly one in five people in the U.S. have allergy or asthma symptoms, which makes spring an extremely difficult season and indoor air quality more important than ever. The Environmental Protection Agency says that indoor air levels of many pollutants can be 2-4 times higher than outdoor levels.

Here are some techniques that can help you take control of your indoor air quality and start enjoying a cleaner, fresher environment.

Purify the air

Your first line of defense is a clean, quality air filter for your HVAC equipment. Air filters are designed to trap dirt, pet dander, dust mites, pollen, and other contaminants. (Click here for more information on why you need to change the air filter.)

While many standard 1-inch filters will catch large airborne particles, they are not designed to remove smaller ones. Eliminating these micro particles often requires special types of filters or more elaborate air purification systems. Another step to combat these asthma and allergy triggers with ultraviolet lamps. UV germicidal lights are an easy way to improve indoor air quality and destroy these irritants without using harsh chemicals.

Your local HVAC company can help determine which product or system is best for your household.

Seal up your ductwork

Leaky ducts can not only lower your energy efficiency, but can also let dirt and debris loose into your home. Cleaning your forced air system components can keep these contaminants from circulating into your indoor air.

Buy indoor plants to freshen the air

Certain plants can actually filter out common volatile organic compounds that can cause adverse health effects. In the late 1980s, NASA conducted a study with the Associated Contractors of America to determine which indoor plants were the most effective at improving indoor air quality.

Some of these air-cleaning plants include:

  • Aloe plants (aloe vera)
  • Spider plants (chlorophytum comosum)
  • Gerber daisies (gerbera jamesonii)
  • Chrysanthemums (chrysantheium morifolium)
  • Ficus, weeping fig (ficus benjamina)
  • Azaleas (rhododendron simsii)
  • English ivy (hedera helix)

Some plants might be dangerous to house pets, so be sure to check the toxicity before adding them to your home.

While you can’t control the outdoor air quality, these simple steps can help to improve your indoor air quality and keep you breathing easy this spring season.

 

Why You Need to Change the Air Filter

change the filter

Change the air filter in your HVAC equipment to improve system efficiency

Spring is in the air and that means higher temperatures are on the way. One of the easiest things you can do to ensure that your air conditioning unit is ready for the increased workload is to change the air filter.

While it may seem like a minor thing, your home air filter is your HVAC system’s first layer of defense to keep larger airborne particles from clogging the fan. Without a clean air filter, dust and dirt can accumulate and block your cold air from circulating. This can result in system inefficiency and higher energy bills. As a result, these air contaminates can also re-circulate in your home which is unhealthy for everyone, but especially those suffering from allergies or other breathing problems. If you have a dirty air conditioning filter that is exposed to condensation, you might also get mold that can lead to serious health issues and an HVAC unit that will likely require replacement or expensive servicing.

How do you know how often to change the air filter? This depends on the size of the filter and the type of system you have. In most cases, you should change the filter once a month, or as recommended by the manufacturer, for optimal performance.

Below are some conditions that might warrant more frequent air filter replacement:

  • You run your system for six months or longer
  • Your home accumulates dust easily
  • You have smokers in your household
  • You have pets
  • Someone in your house suffers from respiratory issues or allergies
  • You have a large household
  • You have your windows open frequently
  • You have construction near your home

Taking care to change your air filter regularly is an easy thing you can do to improve system efficiency, avoid costly repairs, and keep your family breathing comfortably.

 

 

 

 

Late Winter HVAC Problems

HVAC problems

Don’t let minor repairs turn into major headaches next winter    

As spring weather approaches, many homeowners gratefully forget about the furnace and ignore potential HVAC problems in anticipation of warmer temperatures and breezy open windows. But in many areas of the country, spring is no guarantee of warm weather. Don’t let an unexpected cold snap catch you off guard or let minor maintenance turn into expensive and inconvenient repair bills next winter. Your HVAC workhorse has toiled hard all season to keep your family warm and might be showing signs of stress right now.

Dirty Air Filter

Air filters not only protect your family from dust and debris, they protect the inside of your heater. If it becomes thick with dust, it can restrict the air flow and cause HVAC problems, like causing your furnace to overheat internally or turn off. Change the filter once a month, or as recommended by the manufacturer, for optimal performance.

 

Failing motor

A furnace motor provides power to the blower to send warm air throughout your home but if the motor starts to fail, your system will shut down so it doesn’t overheat. If you experience an acrid smell or hear loud squealing and grinding, this is a sign your motor might be starting to fail.

 

Dusty Burners

Natural wear and tear can cause dirt to build up on gas furnace burners. Dirty burners can block the gas jets and cause the furnace to make a loud “boom” noise as they ignite or redirect flames outside the burner area. You will need to have a technician remove and clean the burner.

 

If you have any concerns about HVAC problems, a professional inspection can help to protect your heating system investment and ensure that your system is functioning properly. For additional peace of mind, you might want to consider a product like Comfort Guard™Monitoring Service. Comfort Guard is another home comfort solution from Emerson, the company behind Sensi™ Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat. The service provides a team of experts to give insight and advice, can predict system failures and help to prevent energy waste. To learn more, visit http://mycomfortguard.com.

Sensi Thermostat Works with Amazon Echo

works with Amazon Echo

Works with Amazon Echo! Use voice commands to control your Sensi thermostat

“Alexa, set my living room thermostat to 72 degrees.”

Welcome to the future of the connected home

We’re proud to be one of the first Alexa thermostats to work directly with Amazon to give our customers an additional layer of ease to control their home comfort. If you have an Amazon Echo, below are some tips for how your Sensi™ Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat works with Echo and Amazon Alexa, Echo’s mobile app. 

Is there an Echo in here? Who is this Alexa?

Amazon Alexa is the software and mobile app that powers its futuristic Echo cylinder hardware. It essentially acts as a central hub for the new connected home. Voice-activated trigger words and phrases allow users to play music, turn off lighting, turn on Internet-enabled kitchen gadgets and now, control your Sensi thermostat.  While both need to have an internet connection, Alexa and your Sensi thermostat do not have to be on the same Wi-Fi network to enable this control.

What’s in a name?

Before having Amazon Alexa discover your device(s), confirm that you have named your Amazon thermostat something that is easy to remember and discern from your other connected home products. For example, you might have both lighting and your thermostat names set as “bedroom”. Consider using  “bedroom thermostat” instead. It’s a name that Alexa can easily understand and that you can also remember easily. Something else to consider when naming your Amazon thermostat is that while Alexa does learn accents and particular voice nuances, she is not particularly fond of numbers or acronyms. You can use numbers in the name, just spell them out since Alexa will phonetically sound out your device name. If you don’t use a location description and prefer using numbers, use “thermostat one” not “thermostat 1”. Finally, since Alexa uses trigger words to activate devices, stay away from command verbs in your Sensi thermostat name.

(Click here for additional information on naming and commands.)

Discover. Connect. Command.

Now that you have named your thermostat, you’re just a few simple steps away from easily connecting your Sensi thermostat to Amazon Echo using the Alexa app.

(Click here for full set up instructions.)

Once Alexa has discovered your device, you can control single or multiple thermostat settings using just your voice. For batch changes, you can create and name connected home device groups on the Alexa app. For example, you might want to create a grouping for all home thermostats to easily adjust the temperature with just one voice command.  In the below examples, the thermostat name or grouping is in bold and the command verb is in italics.

“Alexa, set living room thermostat temperature to 68 degrees” Alexa thermostat

“Alexa, raise first floor thermostat by 2 degrees”

“Alexa, lower home thermostats by 4 degrees”

Alexa Thermostat Schedules and Settings

If you are also using schedules in your Sensi app, asking Alexa to set, lower, or raise the temperature will be done using the room temperature as the base, and not the set point in your schedule.  Also, using Alexa voice control will issue a temporary temperature setting that will hold for two hours until reverting to your normal schedule. The time that this temporary change is made will be noted on the home screen of your Sensi mobile app so you know when your regular schedules will return.

(Click here for additional information on Sensi thermostat schedules and Alexa.)

 

 

With the help of Sensi thermostat and Alexa, making smart decisions about home comfort and energy use is possible not just with the touch of a button, but also with the sound of your voice.