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Winter got off to an early start this year…

3 minute read

Polar Vortex Signals Early Winter

An early round of arctic air is reminding those in the U.S. about the need to prepare for the polar vortex.

An early round of arctic air is reminding those in the U.S. about the need to prepare for the polar vortex.

Winter got off to an early start this year. Much of the nation has seen temperatures plunge as frigid arctic air dips south. Early predictions by AccuWeather suggest the polar vortex will provide multiple blasts of cold air this winter. The one bit of good news is that the mass of arctic air should march in and then retreat, as opposed to lingering for several months.

However, in mid-November record lows were shattered across the country and nearly 50 percent of the contiguous U.S. was covered in snow – the highest percentage since NOAA began tracking the figure, according to The Weather Channel.

Protecting Loved Ones from the polar vortex

While the polar vortex will make heading outside a miserable experience, it will make sitting inside less fun too. Families should prepare now for what will be another long winter. Homeowners who have not had their furnace system checked and cleaned need to do so. Also consider how you will deal with low humidity levels. Humidity refers to the amount of moisture that is in the air. As the relative humidity (RH) drops, the air begins to pull moisture out of anything that it can – including people.

When cold outdoor air is brought into the home and heated, indoor relative humidity drops significantly. Because the furnace runs non-stop during a polar vortex, homes get very dry. Dry air causes a host of health and comfort issues, including:

  • Itchy, dry eyes
  • Cracked and itchy skin
  • Static shocks
  • Dry, itchy noses
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sore throat

Don’t Hang Your House Out To Dry

Humidity control is also integral to protecting a house and keeping heating bills down. Adding humidity when heating allows people to feel comfortable at lower temperatures. Energy.gov states that turning a thermostat back 10 – 15 degrees for eight hours can reduce heating bills by 5 – 15 percent a year. During a polar vortex, keeping the thermostat down a few degrees could quickly add up to big savings.

Just like people, a house also “feels” the pressures of a polar vortex. Dry air can cause expensive electronic devices to fail, create cracks in wood floors and damage instruments and furniture. Ensuring that dry air doesn’t suck the life out of a house requires adding moisture throughout the heating season. A family’s daily routines, such as cooking, bathing and doing laundry add some moisture to the home each day – but not enough to maintain optimal levels.

How to Control the Humidity in Your Home

Humidifiers are designed to efficiently and effectively control indoor RH during the winter months. Some people sleep with a small humidifier by their bed to prevent a dry throat in the morning, or purchase larger units to raise the RH in an entire room.

Many homeowners can also benefit from whole-house humidification solutions. A whole-home humidifier adds moisture to every room by using the duct system of the furnace. Installed by an HVAC contractor, whole-house humidification products can also automatically change the amount of moisture being added depending on variables such as indoor and outdoor temperature. By continually monitoring and controlling how much humidity is added, automatic humidifiers raise RH without causing condensation to form on windows or walls.

Environment |

Summer’s Most Common Bugs

2 minute read

When it comes to a love of humidity, humans and pests are on opposite ends of the spectrum. While we tend to despise air that is thick with heat and water vapor, most bugs actually thrive in it and need it to live.

Unfortunately, this means that the impending summer humidity in certain parts of the country is about to bring these summer pests out in a big way.

Summer’s Most Common Pests

Cockroaches

The German cockroach is the most common roach species infesting our homes in North America. They are attracted to warm and humid places, making your kitchen and the water heater in the basement their most frequented hideaways.

Silverfish

These small, wingless insects are nocturnal and need to keep their bodies moist at all times in order to survive. You are likely to find them beneath boxes or furniture in your basement, the shower, or hiding in your kitchen.

Centipedes

Carnivorous and nocturnal, with their 100 feet, these pests can move quickly and spend most of the day hiding in humid, secluded places. They are highly attracted to the moist, humid parts of the home because they need to rehydrate constantly in order to live.

Earwigs

Known to burrow into topsoil outside, these nocturnal bugs can also infiltrate dark and humid areas of your home. You are most likely to find them around floor drains, bathrooms, or under rugs or furniture.

Roly-Poly Bugs

Also known as pill bugs, sow bugs, potato bugs, or armadillo bugs, these bugs often infest damp basements.

Tips to Prevent/Eliminate Summer Pests:

Healthy Home |

Professionals Needed: Here Are The Home Projects You Should Never DIY

2 minute read

So you bought your first house and can’t wait to rip up that crummy carpet. Go for it! But if you hit dirt, you might need to call in backup. As more millennials take the plunge into home ownership, it’s becoming more and more common to see DIY projects big and small. Things like carpet removal are doable. But no matter how many tips and tricks you’ve picked up from HGTV, Pinterest, or YouTube, there are some projects that simply aren’t worth the money, time, or risk to do yourself.

Setting Limits on DIY Home Projects

Skill Level for DIY Home Projects:

For some people, DIY is a way of life. For the rest of us, we need to be honest about our skills and level of experience. Sometimes a “simple” job can actually be a lot more complex than it appears. Hire a professional for these projects before you try it yourself and make a mistake that costs way more to fix.

  • Paving your driveway
  • Custom kitchen and bathroom jobs – backsplashes, flooring, countertops
  • Pest removal
  • Window Installation

Time Commitment for DIY Home Projects:

Some home improvement jobs can take weeks to complete when you try to do them yourself. For big projects, hiring a professional will mean a quicker and more efficient job done well so you can get back to enjoying your home without interruptions.

  • Large landscaping projects
  • Flooring
  • Demolition

Permission for DIY Home Projects:

Some home improvement projects require permits due to building codes. Save yourself the headache, and possible code violation, by hiring a professional who’s familiar with the process when it comes to these types of jobs.

  • Additions and remodels
  • Deck or patio addition
  • Major electrical/plumbing work
  • Pool installation and repairs

Safety Risk for DIY Home Projects:

If there’s any question of your ability to do something without injury or structural damage to your home, it’s most definitely a job for a professional.

  • Mold, asbestos, lead removal
  • Tree removal
  • Roof and foundation repairs
  • HVAC system installation and repair

When you’ve decided you need a pro, try to keep the process simple to save you time and headaches. Start by reaching out to a few trusted contractors in your area to get estimates on the work, (recommendations from friends are a great place to start) and then consider price and professionalism before making your decision.

When it comes to HVAC work, we make it easy to find a pro. Along with plumbing and electrical work, HVAC is an area where it’s crucial to get the job done right the first time.

Sources:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/millennials-take-on-diy-projects-with-more-confidence-and-budgeting-discipline-than-previous-generations-300813538.html

https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/10-home-projects-you-should-always-hire-a-pro-for/

https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/quick-tips/8-household-projects-to-leave-to-professionals/

https://www.rd.com/home/improvement/diy-home-improvement-projects/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/projects-you-should-not-diy_n_3923456

https://www.hallerent.com/blog/when-to-call-professional-for-home-improvement-repairs/

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Stand Up for Clean Air

3 minute read

50 Years Later: The Clean Air Act of 1970

50 years ago, Congress signed a landmark bill – The Clean Air Act of 1970. This bill helped reduce air pollution, spurred energy-efficient machines, cars, and helped Americans breathe easier, but there’s still more work to be done. Now, the American Lung Association is asking everyone to join the Stand Up For Clean Air initiative to help make healthy air accessible to everyone.

Stand Up for Clean Air Initiative

The initiative focuses on creating clean air at home, at work, at school, and outdoors. It also focuses on reducing climate change and addressing air quality concerns after a natural disaster. Lastly, people can read about the state of the air in their community in the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report.

Its most recent State of the Air report states that nearly half of Americans live with unhealthy air. Most of that unhealthy air is a result of the byproducts of climate change.

“Climate change results in increased levels of wildfire smoke, worsened ozone pollution, more extreme storms and frequent flooding, which leave behind mold, polluted floodwater residue and other damage, exposing people to indoor air pollution as they clean up and repair homes. Many sources of climate pollution – power plants, oil and gas operations, and cars and trucks – also produce air pollution that is directly harmful to lung health.” – Harold Wimmer, American Lung Association CEO and President 

Air pollution contributes to premature deaths, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and asthma attacks. Children, older adults, and those with underlying health conditions are most vulnerable.

Resources to Create Healthy Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality for Workplaces

With its Stand up for Clean Air initiative, the American Lung Association wants to create better indoor air quality. In doing so, the ALA provides several resources to help users advocate for these changes.

Fortunately, the ALA is not only the group advocating for healthy buildings and better indoor air quality.

The TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard has been advocating for healthy buildings for 40 years. Through its advocacy, the school has completed and promoted studies that indicate production declines when employees are in an unhealthy workplace. Workers in these poor conditions type slower, take more sick days, and are generally less productive. Healthy insurance provider Kaiser Permanente estimates that the net result of this absenteeism and poor production costs businesses thousands of dollars per employee.

Indoor Air Quality for Schools

Students in poorly ventilated schools face similar problems. They lack focus, are more likely to get sick, and subsequently are more likely to be absent. This can result in lower performance. The American Lung Association and Environmental Protection Agency have collaborated to create a toolkit to help schools improve their indoor air quality with low-cost initiatives. Benefits include improved academic performance, higher rates of attendance, and healthier children.

Advocate for Clean Air

To join the fight against poor indoor air quality and air pollution, you can visit the American Lung Association and become an advocate.

“Everyone has a role to play in addressing climate change and ensuring clean air for all,” Wimmer said. “Our hope is that everyone – from individual citizens to industries, federal and state governments, and companies and brands – recognize that everyone is needed to ensure clean air for all and address an obstacle as unprecedented as climate change. I hope you’ll join us in realizing our vision of a world free of lung disease.” – Harold Wimmer

Please note: Aprilaire is a partner of the American Lung Association. We are a national sponsor of the American Lung Association’s fundraiser Fight for Air Climb FY20.