A home air filter is perhaps the most effective way to fight fall allergies. You might also try other things like washing your pillowcases and sheets daily, taking multiple showers a day, keeping the windows and doors closed or just staying inside.
The truth is, your home can harbor as much and even more allergens than the outside air. In fact, whatever we track into the house gets caught up in our household fabrics. Once nested, they become airborne when the fabric is used or touched. That is where the home air filter comes in.
If you have not changed out your home air filter in a long time, now is the time to do it. The last thing you want to do is force your HVAC system to work harder to produce cool, conditioned air for you. A clogged home air filter means that it is going to be harder to get the air through, thus forcing the system work less efficiently. That means more money in energy bills and a less efficient fall allergen defense.
This time of year is prime for ragweed. These fall allergens can easily invade your home and circulate throughout your house – unless you have a home air filter in place that can remove them from circulation. There are four types of home air filters, each specific to the severity of your fall allergies: fiberglass, polyester and pleated, HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) and washable.
The fiberglass filter is considered to be geared toward protecting the furnace and has less of a MERV rating, thus filtering fewer particles out of the air. Pleated air filters are considered a medium efficiency filter that can get more of the particles out of the air than fiberglass yet still give your HVAC system less resistance to airflow. A HEPA is very effective at removing allergens and particles, but it does so on a very fine scale. Basically, that means that it slows down the airflow so it can filter, thus forcing your HVAC system to work harder to produce and distribute the cool, conditioned air.
MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values) rating should be a comfortable “in-between.” The higher the MERV rating, the more particles you can filter out of the air. But, the higher rating also slows the flow of air down, thus creating more work for the HVAC system. It is now forced to work harder to get the air delivered throughout your home, thus costing you more money in energy bills.
Your home air filter should be a comfortable fit for you based on the severity of your fall allergies. For example, if you are especially vulnerable to ragweed, mold spores, cigarette smoke and other allergens that are commonly responsible for allergic airborne reactions you may want to option for the HEPA home air filter. This will help you be more comfortable in your home without always having to sneeze, cough or wheeze. But, keep in mind, your energy costs may go up.
If your allergies are moderate at best and you are not relegated to spending all your time fighting the symptoms, then you may option for medium duty home air filters that can allow better airflow and still remove smaller particles than fiberglass. This way your allergies can still be kept quiet while paying a smaller energy bill.
Overall, your home air filter should not be your only defense against fall allergies. Most of the allergy symptoms you experience are from particles tracked in from outside. Ragweed is most commonly known to cause hay fever. It gets on your clothes, shoes and skin. When you walk in your house from the outside, it gets in your carpet, on your bed sheets and pillowcases. A great start is to vacuum twice a week and start washing your sheets every week. At the very least, you are making the spores airborne so they can circulate through the HVAC system and thus get picked up in the home air filter. You can also avoid going outside, but there is a small chance that you can make a living doing that.
You might also consider investing in a room air purifier. While it does not filter or kill the germs and allergens, it is at least getting air circulation to once again be picked up in the home air filter through the HVAC system.
Keep in mind that you also have dust and maybe pet dander in the house. These are allergens you do not have go outside to get. It is advisable to again vacuum twice a week and dust quite often. These allergens collect and only get worse over time. There are some people who may never dust there house, or maybe only do it two-to-three times a year. Those people can see quite a difference in their allergy symptoms if they dust quite often.
All of the above ways to prevent allergy symptoms also use the home circulation method, which in turn leads right back to the home air filter. This means that it is the most important component in fighting fall allergies.
In most cases, the home air filter on the HVAC system is fairly easy to change out. They are usually in an accessible location so that you can pull the top off and slide it right out. There are also HVAC systems where you have to pull a front panel off before you can reach it. Either way, they are usually quite simple. There is usually an arrow on the filter itself that will tell which way it needs to face in order for the air to properly run through it. It is important that you place your home air filter in the right direction so that the air goes through it the right way. If you do not, that means it will not as well as it was intended.
Check your home air filter right way and start reaping the benefits.
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