green space

AA Homepage Articles |

Dining Out: Cities Expand Green Space During COVID-19

4 minute read

During the lockdown, some of us have had to confront our demons. Well, at least our cooking ones. Some of us have used this time to up our cooking skills and make our friends jealous on Instagram. Others have eaten a rotation of ramen, delivery, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. For those in the latter, I have good news for you. Cities across the country are reopening. As they start opening, restaurants and cities are finding creative ways – including expanding green space – to help you dine in while also dining out.

Cities Use Green Space to Expand Dining Space

Many cities are shutting down streets to increase the green space and expand dining spaces across the country. Restaurants, unfortunately, lend themselves to coronavirus transmission. Dining rooms can be filled to the brim with patrons looking for a relaxing experience. These close quarters is exactly what coronavirus feasts on. Aerosols from sneezing, talking, and coughing can spread beyond the social distancing limits when these aerosols are caught up in the air stream of a restaurant’s air conditioner.

COVID-19 Spread Through Aerosols

This type of situation is exactly what happened in a Wuhan restaurant. One infected diner spread the disease to people at different tables. A University of Oregon study did a 3-D model of this scenario. They then added ventilation to the scenario to show just how different the situation could have been if just a bit of fresh air was added to the equation. The droplets fell to surfaces much quicker and the infected air was diluted, reducing transmission.

Restaurants Use Multiple Methods to Combat COVID-19

The reason so many cities and restaurants are focusing on increasing outdoor dining are that the chance of viral transmission outdoors is more limited. Researchers are still studying COVID-19 so the data is still presenting itself but as the United States pushes through the first wave, researchers are finding evidence that being outdoors is an effective strategy against COVID-19.

Other restaurant owners have turned to more unique options to combat COVID-19. A restaurant owner in the Wisconsin Dells area has turned to technology that uses a combined attack of UV light and anti-microbial spray. Another restaurant owner has turned to shower curtains to help stop the spread. To fully prevent the spread, different sanitation techniques, and a Healthy Air SystemTM – comprised of ventilation, humidity control, and air filtration –  present the best options. Currently, though, restaurants and shop owners are eager to get back to business and will happily try different options to make sure customers both feel and are safer.

The new normal of COVID-19 is presenting itself in these restaurants, dining out to dine in looks like it might be enough to squelch the hunger of so many of us who want the taste of a great meal outside of our homes. Or even a respite from the old PB&J routine.

Outdoor Air Quality Increased from Limited Travel

The bigger question though is how long these fixes might last and how many of them become permanent fixtures. The New York Times released an interactive article detailing the reduction in air pollution from people not traveling to work every day. Some companies are choosing to keep their employees at home indefinitely or until a vaccine is released.

These reductions in travel will have an impact on the environment. As some cities close streets for larger outdoor dining spaces, people may eschew driving for public transportation or walking. As cities, businesses, and residents all walk the tight rope of deciding how to safely reopen, there’s no doubt that our climate is reaping benefits. Plenty of videos have circulated online of animals walking down the streets of once-bustling town’s main streets. As climate change becomes an even greater focus, these small changes could result in more permanent fixtures as people adjust to the unusual circumstances presented by a worldwide pandemic.

Cholera Resulted in Expansion of Green Space

This would not be the first time that a pandemic has resulted in more green space in cities worldwide. During the cholera outbreak of the mid -19th century, New York City was a breeding ground for disease.

“Nineteenth-century cities were crowded, filthy places that provided the perfect breeding ground for diseases such as cholera. While garbage, animal manure, and human waste flowed freely into drinking water sources, it was the pungent cocktail of odors they produced that many medical professionals blamed for spreading disease.”

Public health officials concluded that change was needed resulting in wider streets, pigs being expunged to rural areas, and clean water ducted in through pipes and aqueducts. Parks were built for fresh air and clean spaces so residents could relax and perform recreational activities.

Cholera also transformed Paris into a facsimile of beauty. Napoleon III saw the benefit of London’s efforts to clean up their city after their cholera outbreak. He admired the beauty too and ordered Paris to do the same.  Many of these plans helped provide a respite from cholera. It also provided a picturesque landscape amidst a sprawling scene of factories and homes.

The New Normal

Everyone is going to have to adjust their normal until an effective vaccine is released.  During these warmer months, we will likely enjoy most of our favorite activities in outdoor spaces.

During the fall and winter, customers will have to eat, drink, and shop inside. The health of a businesses’ indoor air is an important step that many companies will eventually have to take. The warmer temperatures do offer us some time until, but healthy indoor air is a year-round solution. Currently, the new normal makes sense, but ventilation is the key to suppressing airborne diseases.

energy efficiency

AA Homepage Articles | Environment |

Aprilaire’s Most Energy-Efficient Indoor Air Quality Solutions

2 minute read

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Saving energy is near the top of most homeowners’ to-do lists, and for good reason. Improved energy efficiency has several benefits including lower utility bills, extended life of some home appliances, and a positive impact on the environment.

Aprilaire is the first whole-home dehumidifier manufacturer to achieve the ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient 2021 certification, delivering 23% annual energy savings above conventional products. Read below to learn more about Aprilaire’s best Indoor Air Quality solutions for improving the energy efficiency of your home.

NEW Aprilaire e-series™ Dehumidifiers

Energy efficiency is always top of mind at Aprilaire. And after years of research and engineering, we’re excited to introduce our new e-series Dehumidifiers. These innovative units are designed to remove more moisture per day using less power. And as always, they’re easy to install right out of the box.

We have a few different models available, each offering a range of features including options with leveling feet, casters, or hardwired powering so it can be installed according to the unique needs of your home. And with capacities ranging from 70-130 pints per day, you can match the dehumidifier size to the square footage of your home and the humidity levels in your area.

Programmable or Smart Thermostat

Putting a heater and air conditioner on a schedule means you are only paying for comfort when you’re actually enjoying it. Aprilaire Wi-Fi thermostats provide control from anywhere by syncing with your mobile device. With the ability to monitor humidity and temperature conditions in your home even when you’re not there, programmable thermostats offer peace of mind as well as major savings, approximately $180 per year compared to non-programmable ones.

High-Efficiency Air Filters

HVAC systems are forced to work harder to pull air through filters that are not in prime condition. When you choose a high-efficiency Aprilaire air filter, you’re helping to protect your HVAC system from fewer service calls. Our filters are specifically engineered to work with your Aprilaire air purifier. They’re effective for 6-12 months compared to the traditional 1-3 month filter, saving you precious time and money.

Whole-Home Air Purifier

Aprilaire air purifiers can be installed as part of your home’s central heating and cooling unit, or we have more versatile units that can be installed in your home’s basement, attic, or closet. This is the best way to suit your energy efficiency needs and create a Healthy Air environment throughout your home.

Contact a Healthy Air Professional for Energy Efficiency

While we’re talking about energy efficiency, it’s never too early to gear up your home for that inevitable summer humidity. Contact an Aprilaire Healthy Air Professional to discuss all your dehumidification and energy-saving needs this summer.

Healthy Air Is on the Way

Find an Aprilaire professional near you.

healthy humidity

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Humidity |

How Healthy Humidity Can Help Fight Viruses and More, Season After Season

3 minute read

We’re all too aware of the sticky, tacky sensation we feel as a result of high humidity in the summertime and the itchy, dry conditions brought on by low humidity in the winter. But, did you know that both extremes can have an impact on your health and your ability to stay protected from airborne contaminants and viruses, like COVID-19?

Over the years, you’ve heard us and other experts like ASHRAE, the CDC, and the EPA talk about the importance of keeping your home’s humidity at a balanced level year-round in an effort to reduce the negative home and health symptoms caused by high and low humidity. But, with the COVID-19 pandemic inspiring us all to confront our Indoor Air Quality concerns, there’s no better time to start breathing the fullness of life—living healthier, more comfortable lives, thanks to Healthy Humidity.

Let’s explore further: By maintaining balanced humidity between 40% and 60% year-round (known as our Healthy Humidity Zone), health concerns like bacteria growth, virus prevalence, respiratory infections, and allergy and asthma symptoms (among others) diminish as your home reaches an optimal humidity level.

 

Maintaining Healthy Humidity in the Summer

While we typically tend to explore solutions that can improve our overall wellness during the low humidity points of the wintertime, it’s still possible to be impacted by viruses, bacteria, and more in the summertime when humidity is high. Regardless of the season, homes with balanced humidity can improve our respiratory immune system’s defenses, making them more effective at capturing, removing, or fighting germs.

To achieve optimal health in the summertime, adding an Aprilaire whole-home dehumidifier can help save you from the muggy, sticky feeling you may experience in your home while also offering stand-out health- and home-related benefits.

In fact, research shows that no matter the temperature of your space, a room with 50% humidity can not only provide the comfort you desire, but is proven to offer fast virus inactivation, with less than 1% of viruses viable after two days. These findings help us further underscore the importance of achieving balanced humidity that falls within our Healthy Humidity Zone of 40% and 60%.

 

Maintaining Healthy Humidity in the Winter

In the wintertime, using an Aprilaire whole-home humidifier can help keep you protected from dry air in your home that may impact your airways and skin, allowing you to achieve a wealth of valuable benefits as well. But, how can using a humidifier in the winter help protect you and your family from virus-sized particles, like COVID-19, in your home like Aprilaire dehumidifiers can in the summer?

Research shows that coronaviruses on surfaces stay viable for a week in heated, dry indoor air with humidity that falls far below (~20%) and above (~80%) our Healthy Humidity Zone, which is between 40% and 60%. By humidifying your air to 50%, this data shows that you can reduce viable viruses to less than 1% in two days and significantly reduce your risk of infection.

 

Humidity Control Based on Regionality

We’re all searching for ways to stay safe and healthy at home, but, depending on where you live, your humidity control needs may be different than a region that experiences all four seasons, one with harsher winters, or one with hot, low-humidity summers. No matter where you live or what your home’s needs are, a Healthy Air Hero in your area can help you find the right solutions so you can achieve Healthy Humidity year-round.

Take the first step today to find out how keeping your home’s humidity in our Healthy Humidity Zone (between 40% and 60%) can help protect your home’s air from viruses, like COVID-19, and other unwanted contaminants that tend to thrive in high or low humidity environments.

St. Vincent de Paul

AA Homepage Articles | News |

2021: Aprilaire’s Good Neighbor Values

2 minute read

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We take the importance of caring for others to heart at Aprilaire. We believe we have a purpose beyond the individual work we do and that being a successful company also means “Being a Good Neighbor.” It’s one of our core values, and something we put into action each year.

We remain committed to helping our local communities in a number of ways, including financial contributions and volunteering. In the past, we’ve raised funds to provide pack-n-plays to mothers in need, volunteered at local blood drives, and held various donation drives throughout the year.

While our partnership opportunities may look different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re excited to continue our work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose mission statement reads:

“A membership organization, the Society began working in Madison in 1925 with two parish-based groups of members serving their neighbors in need. Today, programs the Society operates in Dane County include a large customer-choice food pantry, a charitable pharmacy, storage for the goods of persons who are homeless, seven thrift stores offering direct charity, housing at Port St. Vincent de Paul and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton House, and several other forms of assistance for people struggling with poverty.”

We’ve been working with St. Vincent de Paul – Madison since 2014, giving us a number of incredible opportunities to give back and live out our mission of being Good Neighbors.

We believe the work they’re doing to provide assistance for our community is more important than ever right now, which is why it’s our honor to be a 2021 Platinum Sponsor for St. Vincent de Paul’s 6th Annual Care Café fundraising breakfast on May, 5th 2021. The theme is “Love Made Visible.”

They’re going virtual this year, which means they have unlimited capacity to reach their goal of $140,000. If you live in Dane County, we encourage you to attend the virtual event and support our neighbors in need through your contributions to the food pantry, free pharmacy, and housing programs.

 Click here for more information on St. Vincent de Paul – Madison to see how you can get involved.

Or find a charity in your area that you may be able to connect with to make an impact.

AA Homepage Articles | News |

Experiencing the Fight For Air Climb

2 minute read

Before the Fight For Air Climb

Entering the US Bank Center for the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb was a rush of energy.

This seemed less like an arduous trek up 1,000 stairs and more of an indoor festival. There were volunteers ready to greet you and pump you up for the ensuing climb and people from different companies sitting at tables ready to hand out souvenirs.

They were probably also there to distract you after you just got done instinctively looking up toward the top of the 47-story US Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee becoming a little uneasy at the prospect of your journey upward.

Before you made your climb, you gathered as a team and took several escalators down to the basement level before getting warmed up with a quick aerobic routine. Then you took a long and winding tunnel where you greeted by more volunteers who were cheering you on. It was hard not to feel inspired and excited.

During the Fight For Air Climb

One-by-one people took off up toward the top of the US Bank Center to begin their Fight For Air Climb. I, like most, started off confidently and quickly. I took the first six flights easily, but then by flight eight, I began to fight for air. I now understand why they title this climb just that. My mind and my body were at odds. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to continue at the same pace to get it over with as quickly as possible or to slow down and feel better. I went with the former.

Everyone in the stairwell was trudging onward with the same dilemma. We all were gasping for air as we kept pushing up each step and each flight toward the top of the Fight For Air Climb. At several points, I wondered if I was actually making any progress.

Every 10 flights there was a group of volunteers handing out cups of water and words of encouragement. Both were sorely needed to help push me along.

With each passing flight, I kept a tally of how many flights I had left. Twenty flights down, 27 more flights to go; 30 flights down, 17 flights to go; Ok, 40 flights down, 7 to go. By the time I got to the 40th floor, I knew I could make the last push to make it to the top of my Fight For Air Climb journey.

After the Fight For Air Climb

Eventually, I reached the top after 9 minutes and 31 seconds. At the top of the stairwell, I was met by volunteers who were cheering me on and by other climbers who were also catching their breath and taking in the picturesque views of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan afforded to us by the tallest building in Wisconsin.

As I grabbed a water and walked around soaking in both the views of the city and my accomplishment, it was really cool to watch teams taking pictures together or greeting other climbers with high-fives and smiles. There was a certain camaraderie found in a common struggle.

Despite the lingering soreness, I cannot wait for next year’s climb. No matter if I beat my time from this year or not, it’s about fighting for air together and helping those impacted with lung disease.

To join an upcoming climb in a city near you, visit www.lung.org/aprilaire.

flights

AA Homepage Articles | News |

Experts Say Flights Can Resume, But Bring Increased Risks

2 minute read

Air quality experts say that it is safe to resume flying, but travelers must take advanced precautions before traveling like taking shorter flights when possible, wearing masks, and social distancing. 

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, makes the case that airplanes do not make you sick. In fact, airplanes have comparable levels of air filtration and fresh air ventilation to a health care facility

Flights May Be Less Comfortable With Recommendations

He argues that airlines should continue disinfecting high-touch areas such as armrests and tray tables, stop in-flight food service, mandate mask-wearing, and ask patrons to keep their above ventilation fan on throughout the flight. While these adjustments make flying less enjoyable, they can help reduce in-flight virus transmission. Masks are currently required on public transportation. 

Allen is not the only one saying it is safe to resume flying. 

‘Safer Than Eating At A Restaurant’

Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, in a CNN article writes, “When HEPA ventilation systems are running on a plane and everyone is masked, the risk of Covid-19 is greatly reduced and makes air travel on a big jet safer than eating at a restaurant.”

Activities Create Biggest Risks

She and Allen argue that the biggest risks in airline travel stem from activities like the pre-flight boarding process or when a flight is delayed and people are stuck on the plane. Marr, who has been wearing an air quality monitor when she travels, said CO2 levels are elevated during these aforementioned activities and are indicative of a lack of fresh air ventilation. 

Marr told CNN that “A CO2 (carbon dioxide) level of 3,000 ppm means that for every breath I take in, about 7% of the air is other people’s exhaled breath…like drinking someone else’s backwash!”

The airport also presents other problems for travelers.

Allen suggests airports create more touchless experiences, upgrade their HVAC system, and require masks. Some updates have already been implemented in some airports or will be implemented in the future. 

Other experts suggest carrying your own personal hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sticking to shorter flights

Even though there are risks to flying, Marr and Allen say you are clear for takeoff this summer