Since Spring 2020, the world has been dealing with COVID-19. We now know that COVID spreads via aerosol, and more homeowners in Los Angeles understand the meaning of the term Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). But we’re all learning as we go here, including scientists and researchers. In our quest to continue learning about the industry and how to best protect our team and customers, we’ve reviewed the latest research and recommendations on the topic of Covid and IAQ. Here’s what we’ve learned:
There’s No Silver Bullet: Use Many Methods to Improve IAQ
Recent research from the Central Building Research Institute indicates that there is no one, perfect solution for improving IAQ. Instead, the best course of action to improve indoor air quality is using many different methods.
Most Los Angeles residents are already familiar with the baseline recommendations. Wearing facemasks, social distancing, and limiting large gatherings are the best ways to keep things safe inside most buildings. One challenge with these recommendations is that it requires every individual to choose to comply. In other words, the quality of everyone’s IAQ depends on… everyone!
There are ways to promote great IAQ, regardless of individual choices. These are called “engineering controls” – things that individual occupants can’t change. Some of these systems include ventilation, filtration, and air cleaning devices. In fact, these recommendations are all part of the core recommendations from ASHRAE.
- Ventilation – with ventilation, we can dilute the “dirty” air inside with an influx of fresh air from outdoors
- Filtration – using a high-quality air filter can dramatically improve IAQ
- Air Cleaner – air purifiers can help remove viruses and other pollutants from the air
Preventing COVID Spread in Los Angeles Homes
Most of the IAQ and COVID research focuses on commercial buildings, like schools or offices. But let’s be honest – no one is wearing a facemask and distancing in your own home. So, what are the best precautions for Los Angeles homeowners?
In a guidance document, ASHRAE’s task force provided these recommendations for residential homes:
- Maintain normal thermal conditions. Keep things comfortable with temperatures at 68-78F and 40-60% relative humidity (RH). Turning off your HVAC system can do more harm than good when it comes to IAQ – so make sure to keep your home within normal limits.
- Crank up your ceiling fans. The experts say we should all be mindful to increase room air motion. Translation: don’t let air become stagnant. Besides the IAQ benefits, ceiling fans are a great way to reduce your energy consumption. You can change your thermostat to nearly 10 degrees higher when using a ceiling fan.
- Level up your air filter to MERV 13 or higher. The higher, the better, when it comes to air filter efficiency ratings. However, higher filtration means there is more resistance for the air. A helpful way to think about filters is like kitchen strainers: a normal pasta strainer makes it relatively easy to remove water. But using a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth? Water won’t travel as easily through it – you may have to use some manal force! It’s all about using the right tool for the job, and the same is true for filters. Even though higher MERV filters remove more particles from the air, you could end up with higher energy bills, downgraded performance, and even iced coils. If you’re not sure how high of a MERV rating your system can tolerate, give us a call!
- Air cleaners can reduce or remove pollutants. Instead of a high efficiency air filter, consider installing an air purifier. Whole-home air purifiers are proven to improve indoor air quality by removing viruses, bacteria, and other particulates. A portable air cleaner can filter the air in a single room or area, while a whole-home air purifier will clean all the air in your house.
- Maintain your HVAC system. The engineers at ASHRAE recommend regular maintenance on your heating and cooling system. Tuneups are important to ensure your home comfort systems are functioning as designed. Because one of the most important measures you can take is keeping your house at normal thermal conditions, preventing breakdowns and taking care of necessary repairs.
HVAC and IAQ Services in Los Angeles
The team at Canoga Park Heating & Air Conditioning has been staying up to date on the latest research related to COVID and IAQ. That’s because we take serving the Los Angeles community seriously, by making recommendations informed by science and research. We have years of experience in indoor air purification – allow us to make a recommendation for your home. Contact our team today for an IAQ consultation!