Friday, November 1, 2019

Energy Vampires?!? - Stop the Energy Drain

Halloween might be over but you could still have vampires hanging around your house and they are not looking for candy. We are talking about your electronics that could be draining energy without you really knowing it. They are referred to as energy vampires. These are items that although they are turned “off” still are using energy. Does your microwave have a clock on it? How about your gaming system, TV or your computer? These are all drawing energy even though they are not actively being used.

Identifying energy vampires is fairly easy. Ask: Is it plugged in? Does it have some sort of display (clock, channel number, or any other light on it)? Is it something that charges batteries? Does it have a remote control? If the answer is yes to one or more of these questions, it is probably using energy without you realizing it.

Now that we have identified the vampires, how do we combat them? Sorry, garlic and a cross are not going to work in this case but there are some very simple things you can do. First, if you need to replace any of these items, look to see if there is an ENERGY STAR certified version. This will decrease your overall energy usage. Second, for items that are being charged, make sure to unplug them once they are fully charged. Third, unplug items not in use. This is the difficult one as there are some items you just don’t want to unplug completely. If you have a cable box that has to go through a full reboot after you plug it back in, it might not be something you want to do. On the other hand, if you are going away for a week, save the energy and unplug it. There are also smart power strips that allow you to control your appliances remotely.

Okay, this all sounds great but how much can I really save? The US Department of Energy estimates that in an average home about 10% of the energy usage is due to vampire appliances and electronics. That can add up over the course of a year. Here are a few of the top vampires with the average of how much energy they consume in standby mode:

TV – 145 kWh
Stereo System – 128 kWh
Cable Box – 128 kWh
Router – 102 kWh
Printer – 70 kWh
DVD player – 59 kWh
Microwave – 26 kWh

What can you turn off in your home to start saving energy and money? For more tips on energy saving visit energystar.gov or the Air King website at www.airkinglimited.com

Friday, October 4, 2019

Ventilation for Your Laundry Room? YES!


The laundry room can sometimes be a forgotten area of the home when it comes to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Most of the IAQ focus when it comes to ventilation is on the kitchen and bathrooms and rightfully so. However, the laundry room can be a large source of contaminants in your home. Let’s take a closer look at the laundry room.

If we are calling it a laundry room, then by name laundry is being done there which means there is a washer and in most cases a dryer. That means there are chemicals in the room. Off-gassing of cleaning detergents have a negative effect on your IAQ. Have you ever gone into the laundry room and had a smell of chemicals. They might even smell somewhat good – like flowers. Unless you are also growing flowers in your laundry room, that smell is the off-gassing of the cleaning detergents. Then there are the machines themselves. With higher rate spin cycle washers and especially with dryers, their normal operation is going to produce heat and humidity. This can lead to an uncomfortable area to be in temperature-wise and the extra humidity in the room can lead to mold and mildew growth.

So far we have only talked about the washer and dryer in the room. In many homes, the laundry room doubles as a storage room for other cleaners. Many also have a utility sink for cleaning up things like paint, grease and other items that you don’t want to risk damaging the kitchen sink to clean. These just add to the amount of off-gassing happening. Another issue is that typically the laundry room is a smaller room so all these factors are concentrated in a small space.

After all that I am sure you are excitingly looking forward to the next time you need to do the laundry or even just walking through the room. Okay, maybe not. The good news is there are some things you can do to lessen your exposure to these contaminants.
1.     Install and utilize a ventilation fan. This is your best option. This will take contaminates and remove them from the home. You may want to consider a two-speed fan. Two-speed fans run continuously at a very low speed, then at a higher speed when the room is occupied. The low speed would help eliminate any off-gassing from chemicals being stored in the room then the high speed would take care of when laundry is actually being done. You can also look at models that have motion sensors that switch from low to high automatically based on if the room is being used or not. If a two-speed fan is a bit much for you, even a small inexpensive single speed fan will make a world of difference in eliminating contaminates.
2.     Open a window or an outside door. This can also be effective but has its limitations. An open door or window will help when the room is being used but unless you keep it open all the time, any off-gassing will stay in the room until the next time the door or window is opened. This is also not an ideal solution if you live in areas of extreme heat or cold.
3.     Keep the door to the laundry room open. This is the least effective method but is better than nothing – maybe. By keeping the laundry room door open to the rest of the home it will disperse the contaminates. The issue, however, is that it is dispersing them into possibly your main living area, which is not a good situation. If the rest of your home is properly ventilated, it will lessen the effects.
To learn more about Air King’s ventilation solutions, visit www.airkinglimited.com.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Check-In Then Check Your Indoor Air Quality


We have dedicated a lot of posts on this blog talking about how to improve the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) of your home. But what about when you are traveling? Whether you need a place to stay for a night or are on a long vacation in one location, you want to make sure you are comfortable.

The IAQ of the accommodations can have a direct effect on your comfort level. While it is certainly harder to control the IAQ of where you are staying compared to your own home, there are steps you can take.

Understand where you are traveling. We talk a lot about outdoor air but that is going to look different depending on where you are traveling. Staying in a large city with a lot of car exhaust and other pollutants compared to staying at a resort in Hawaii with a fresh sea breeze is going to be different. In a city, you will want to limit the amount of air coming into the room, while in the other, you will want to bring as much air in as possible.

Use the ventilation systems in the unit. All the bathrooms should have at least a ventilation fan. Use them. Even when you are not in the bathroom, keep them running for an extended period. This will help to exchange the air in the room/unit. If you are staying in a unit that has a kitchen, use the range hood every time you cook.

Give the place a once over. This is one that is both for the IAQ and your overall comfort. Walkthrough the unit and look for any mold or mildew build-up. Does it look clean, is there a chemical smell, does it fell overly humid? These can all be warning signs of poor ventilation and worst – poor maintenance. If you do find any of these and you have the ability to ask for another room – do so. Sometimes it can be just that room. The harder situation is if the entire facility is like that. Now you have to make a decision on if to stay or if you try to find another place. That can get complicated with deposits, prepaid rooms and so forth.

Just because you are traveling doesn’t mean your comfort and IAQ needs to suffer. Hopefully these ideas will help you stay comfortable and sleep easy at night.
For more information about Indoor Air Quality, visit us at www.airkinglimited.com.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Problems with Allergies or Asthma – Check Your Indoor Air Quality

Say the word pollen in a room full of people and probably about half of them immediately start to cringe and maybe even instinctively reach for a tissue. While there are a lot of great products on the market to relieve or suppress allergies, they do not get to the root of the issue or prevent them. The simple truth is if the allergen isn’t there, it can’t affect you. This goes for people with Asthma also. If what triggers the Asthma isn’t there, an attack probably won’t happen. Let's get something out of the way before the questions start. NO, you cannot eliminate all allergens from your environment unless you want to live in a hermetically sealed chamber for the rest of your life. But what you can do is greatly reduce the number of allergens in your living environment. In previous posts, we have talked a great deal about outdoor air and ventilating your home. On the surface, this might seem counter-intuitive. The outdoor air is where all the allergens are – why would I want to bring that into the home? You would be right in the sense of opening all of the windows and letting the air come into the home when you live next to a field full of ragweed is probably not going to help your cause.

What you do want to do is control the air coming into your home and filter it the best you can. Here is where the HVAC system along with your ventilation and air intake systems come into play. Let's start with the HVAC system. If you have central air, use it, but make sure the air filter is changed regularly and is filtering out the contaminates you need to. Check the type of filter you have. Most air filters will have some type of information on the packaging of what they filter out. Make sure it is removing things like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and any other allergens or Asthma triggers you might have.

The next item to address is the ventilation of the home. Properly ventilating your bathrooms especially will reduce the growth of mold and mildew. Both of which can trigger allergy or Asthma attacks. Make sure the exhaust fans are being used properly.

Another big area of the home that often gets overlooked is the kitchen. Make sure to use a range hood that is venting to the outdoors. As we have detailed in previous post, the kitchen is one if not the top source of indoor contaminates. Venting these out of the home is the best way to ensure the quality of air inside the home. Smoke is typically a top trigger for people with Asthma. Exhausting it at the source prevents it from entering the living environment. Studies have shown that just using a properly vented range hood when cooking can reduce particulate matter by more than 80% (Dangerous particles so small they can’t be seen).


Finally let’s talk a little about the fresh air coming into the home (also called make-up air). When you vent air outside, you need to bring air into the home. The best way to do this without negatively impacting your air quality is to control it and filter it. As we talked about earlier, opening a door or window definitely brings fresh air in, but it also brings all of the contaminants in the air with it. Utilizing a product like the Air King QFAM or FAS controls the air coming into the home by filtering the air before it reaches the living area. The air passes through an up to MERV16 air filter, which takes out even microscopic allergens. It is the basic principle of keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. As we said before, this is not a 100% guarantee that you will never have another allergy or Asthma attack, but if it can increase your comfort level and prevent even some of them – isn’t it worth it?

To learn more about Air King’s ventilation and fresh air solutions, visit www.airkinglimited.com.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Air Filter Debate – Is Too Much Too Much?


Quick, when is the last time you changed the Air Filter of your HVAC system? Second question, do you know that your HVAC system has an Air Filter? Air Filters are a part of our lives. Our cars have them, our HVAC systems have them, dehumidifiers have them and now fans have them.

In previous blogs, we have talked about the importance of bringingfresh air into the home and using a mechanical solution like the Air King QFAMor FAS. Those products also utilize an Air Filter.  The thing with Air Filters is that they need to be replaced on a regular basis. But what should you replace it with? In our pursuit of better air quality, we have adopted the bigger is better philosophy and unfortunately, that is not always the case.

You will see terms such as HEPA or MERV. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air, which means that a filter can trap 99.97 percent of particulates that are 0.3 microns. In terms we can all understand, it filters out most of the bad things in the air. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Like the HEPA definition, the MERV rating is how fine of particles the filter is able to remove. The higher the MERV rating that more contaminates the filter will remove. A MERV 8 filter will trap most common household contaminants such as dust, pollen, pet dander and lint. Going up to a MERV 13 will also trap items such as mold spores, car fumes, smoke, bacteria and microscopic allergens. When you go above MERV 14, now you are into filters you are going to find in settings such as a hospital.

So why not always use the highest MERV rating possible? This comes down to airflow. The issue is that the higher the MERV rating, the more it is going to restrict the airflow. The filter is going to trap more, which is good, but it will also need more power to push the air through. This can have a negative effect on your total system. Let's say you have a MERV 8 filter in place but you now want to change that to a MERV 13. You will see a decrease in the amount of air coming through. Some systems have the ability to compensate and increase the airflow. With Air King’s Fresh Air Machines, you have the ability to adjust the speed manually. For systems that do not have the ability to either self or manually adjust, using a higher rated filter could restrict the airflow to a point where the system is no longer working as expected. This could also have longer-term effects on the system as it will have to work harder to move the air.

So what Air Filter should I use? With Air King products that use filters, take a look at what the CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) setting is at. If it set below the maximum airflow amount, you can utilize a higher MERV filter and adjust the setting. We do highly suggest that you consult an HVAC expert to make sure the correct airflow is still taking place. They will be able to advise you and test the actual airflow.

To learn more about Air King products, visit www.airkinglimited.com