Corbett Lunsford

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Home |

Healthy Home Guide – Q&A With Corbett Lunsford, Co-host of ‘Home Diagnosis’

3 minute read

Building a new home is an exciting time for you and your family. From picking the right neighborhood to finalizing the blueprints, the process is full of hope and potential. We talked about that topic and much more with Corbett Lunsford, co-host of the public television series ‘Home Diagnosis,’ which focuses on the science of homes.

At Aprilaire, we want that excitement to keep going well after you’ve moved in. We believe that starts with making sure the air in your new home is safe for you and your family from the beginning.

While buying an older, existing home presents its own air quality challenges, building a new home gives you the chance to create a healthy indoor environment from the foundation up.

Modern building techniques and materials make construction more efficient and less expensive, but some of them can emit pollutants into the air and introduce other potential air quality issues.

“Every home is a chemical experiment at work,” said Corbett Lunsford. “Think of the home as a planet, with millions of microorganisms, an ecosystem that evolves as more things are added to it.”

He added, “There’s no one prescription for all households. Lots of factors determine the health of a space.”

While there is no “one-size-fits-all” home advice, we know you still want to do all you can to make sure your home ecosystem is healthy. For that, Corbett Lunsford shared some expert tips on building a home that you and your family will grow and thrive in.

Corbett Lunsford’s Expert Advice On Home Air Quality

Excerpts are taken from a conversation with Corbett Lunsford on building a healthy home. All emphases added by Aprilaire.

3 Areas Of Focus When Homebuilding

  1. “Don’t bring bad things in.”
    “Try to avoid bringing reactive things into the house and things that will “off-gas” over the long-term, like insulation or materials with flame retardants.”
    “For example, don’t keep paints and solvents in the house. Keep them in an air-sealed garage.”
  2. “Keep it dry to prevent mold.”
    “You should have a dehumidifier, even if you have a humidifier for the winter. What you want to do is control the humidity so you don’t grow mold.
  3. “Outdoor air ventilation is crucial.”
    “If you have an outdoor air system that works, then things like chemicals and humidity won’t be as big of an issue.”

On Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

At Aprilaire, we give you ways to remove VOCs from your home. While it’s important to remove harmful VOCs, Corbett says that making a “zero-VOC” home is impossible.

“We’re always bringing chemicals and VOCs into the house with everyday activities like cooking and cleaning and breathing.”

“Ventilation is crucial for reducing the concentration of VOCs in your home. You definitely want to ventilate anywhere there is moisture introduced to the home, like the bathrooms and kitchen.”

On Kids’ Health

“Their lungs are developing right now, and it’s just not good for them to breathe certain chemicals or any particles. The more chemical combinations you add to your home, the more risk you’re creating for your kids.”

“Carpets hold onto a lot of particles. Children spend the most time next to that flooring that may have harmful chemicals in it.”

“I recommend against using foam insulation on houses. It’s a great insulator, but it contains toxic flame retardants that can travel through things like drywall and even sheet metal. This will likely impact lung development for kids.”

On Air Purifiers

Once you decide what air filters are needed in your home, check out Aprilaire’s filter options.“Air filtration is the only air purification tactic that will not have side effects that are going to endanger your family.”

“This is a really important concept. I recommend air purifiers that are just a fan and a filter. Anything else is unnecessary and potentially harmful.”

Never buy an air purifier that creates ozone. It’s very reactive and hard to measure, because it disappears when it reacts with other chemicals.”

“If you’re seeking healthier indoor air, especially for developing kids, you need a MERV 13 filter.

“If you’re really serious about indoor air, use a HEPA filter system. That’s what is used in hospitals.”

The Importance Of Testing

“All of this advice is predicated on testing and knowledge. You have to prove that air systems are doing what they say they do.”

“Cheap indoor air quality monitors that you buy online aren’t very good. To make sure your systems are working, you should ask for testing and diagnostics from the company that did installation, or an independent professional.”

“If you’re going to test your indoor air quality, the level of VOCs is not necessarily an indication of an unhealthy environment. Your nose is actually a much better VOC detector than most tests.”

Corbett Lunsford’s Recommended Resources

The HOMEChem Experiment

A deep exploration into how indoor air chemical compounds interact and transform throughout a normal day of activities.

Six Classes Approach

Information on household chemicals.

Toxic Chemicals and Home Performance

Biophysical chemist Arlene Blum talks with Corbett Lunsford and Grace (hosts of Home Diagnosis) to talk about the “Six Classes” of harmful chemicals.

Home Performance YouTube Channel

Over 500 educational videos on the science of homes.

healthy buildings

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Air |

Healthy Buildings Are More Than Just Indoor Air Quality

2 minute read

COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of indoor air quality and healthy buildings especially for our offices. We spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors.  So it’s no wonder that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has diagnosed indoor air pollution as a major health crisis. The agency says indoor air is up to 5 times more polluted than outside air. This air pollution leads to major health issues such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, anxiety, and stress.

Healthy Buildings: A Product of Public Health

To combat this public health crisis, the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University was founded. The school’s been studying the impact of healthy buildings for decades and established 9 Foundations for Healthy Buildings: Ventilation, Air Quality, Thermal Health, Moisture, Dust & Pets, Safety & Security, Water Quality, Noise, and Lighting & Views.

Increasing access to these foundations helps increase employee wellness, retainment, and productivity. According to one of our partners, Wellness Within Your Walls, whose mission is to reduce toxins in indoor living environments, the wellness industry is a burgeoning market. It is set to become a trillion-dollar industry. Employers will begin recruiting workers with different wellness amenities. Understandably, these amenities are not cheap; however, it’s more expensive to not provide fresh air, natural light, and humidity control.

Absenteeism is a curable illness

A study found that 57 percent of all sick leave was attributable to poor ventilation. Health insurance provider Kaiser Permanente found that absenteeism costs employers $1,685 per employee annually. Comparatively, workers in a room with a pollution source typed 6.5% slower than those without.

A National Institute of Health study found that adding a ventilation system to an office building provides a savings of $6,500 to $7,500 per employee per year due to increased productivity and decreased absenteeism.

Poor indoor air quality is incredibly costly.

Healthy Air for a Healthy Building

An Aprilaire Healthy Air SystemTM helps address these concerns with its multi-pronged approach to increase fresh air ventilation, humidity control, and air filtration to reduce the proliferation of airborne viruses and other contaminants.

ENERGY STAR

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Humidity |

Aprilaire Dehumidifiers Certified ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient 2020

2 minute read

Whole-Home Dehumidifiers ENERGY STAR Certified

Aprilaire dehumidifiers are recognized as ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient 2020. With this certification, our 1870, 1870W, and 1872 models are the first whole-home dehumidifiers to receive the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2020 designation.

Products that earn ENERGY STAR ratings are independently certified to save energy, save money, and protect the climate. According to the EPA, whole-home dehumidifiers that meet the higher criteria for ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2020 deliver nearly 30% energy savings compared to units without the ENERGY STAR certification.

About the 1870

The 1870 whole-home dehumidifier can dehumidify a home up 7,200 square feet, removing up to 130 pounds of moisture per day. All Aprilaire dehumidifiers are backed with a five-year warranty, have no messy water trays to empty and come equipped with a washable MERV 8 filter.

Healthy Humidity Plays a Key Role in Wellness
Breathe Healthy Air no matter when or where.

Learn More

Our dehumidifiers are ready to remove humidity from daily activities and other excess moisture trapped inside your home. For example, you add 25 pounds of moisture to your home’s air through showering, laundry, and washing the dishes.

Humidity control is important for protecting both your family’s and your home’s health. Excess moisture warps and damages woodwork, floors, and fine furnishings. High humidity is also the perfect breeding ground for many airborne contaminants and annoyances. These include termites, mold, mildew, and other allergy triggers.

Aprilaire follows the recommendations of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air – Conditioning Engineers which suggests keeping your home’s relative humidity around 50 percent to best prevent airborne viruses, mold, mildew, and other contaminants.

Healthy Air System

The 1870 dehumidifier is also an integral component of the Aprilaire Healthy Air SystemTM – a multi-faceted approach to effective protection from airborne viruses like the common cold, flu, and COVID-19.

Find a Pro for Energy Star Certified Dehumidifier

For a healthier, more comfortable home, ask for Aprilaire. Use our Find A Pro to find a Healthy Air Pro in your area.

Healthy Air Is on the Way

Find an Aprilaire professional near you.

air travel

AA Homepage Articles | Family |

Air Travel: What You Need to Know

2 minute read

Is Air Travel Safe?

Air travel is starting to elevate. During the Coronavirus pandemic, airports saw 4 percent of the foot traffic compared to last year during the same period. July is expected to be fairly busy as airlines have started adding domestic flights to prepare for the uptick in passengers.

Many travelers are looking to travel to luxurious resorts in places like Florida or Las Vegas or to more remote areas like National Parks where it’s easier to practice social distancing compared to busy metropolitan cities.

Although there are positive signs that the travel industry is starting to open up, many travelers are still unsure about traveling during a pandemic.

The biggest crisis facing passengers is that they are being placed in tight spaces with strangers for several hours. According to a New York Times article, a majority of epidemiologists interviewed said that they would not feel comfortable flying until Spring 2021.

Airlines and airports have implemented several policies to ease concerns for travelers. Airlines are taking stock of this and are also taking extra precautions to ease traveler’s concerns.

Air Quality Inside Airplanes

Delta is replacing its High-Efficiency Particulate Absorbing (HEPA) Air Filters or HEPA at twice the recommended rate. To qualify HEPA, the air filter must filter out 99.97% of air particulates that are 0.3 microns or larger. Most bacteria are about 1 micron. HEPA filters are used to filter out the outside air brought in to the plane. Outside air is brought inside the plane. The air then passes through the HEPA filters. This process is repeated every 2-3 minutes. Due to the presence of HEPA filters and recirculated air, the air quality inside a plane is similar to a hospital.

Masks on Planes

Even though the air quality inside of a plane is relatively safe, some airlines are requiring passengers to wear a mask onboard their flight. American Airlines and Jet Blue is mandating that every passenger wears a mask and will be strictly enforcing that policy.

Other high touch point areas will be limited throughout the flight. On-flight services such as beverage and snack options have been limited, if not eliminated on most flights. An Ireland airline is requesting that passengers do not stand in line for the bathroom.

Be sure to check with each specific airline to see what their onboard policies are.

New Airport Social Distancing Policies

Airports have put in several policies to enforce social distancing requirements including no-touch check-ins.

To avoid bottlenecked lines, airports are asking travelers to arrive at least two hours early for their flight. Airports have also ramped up their cleaning and some airports are providing extra sanitation stations for passengers too. At LAX, they will be using a thermal camera to identify passengers with COVID-19 since one common symptom of COVID-19 is fever. TSA gate agents will also be taking the temperatures of guests, providing masks, and hand sanitizer.

Air Travel: Know Before You Go

To stay up-to-date on air travel, follow the CDC, the TSA, your airline’s website, and any airports you will be traveling through. These places will have the most up-to-date information about different procedures being taken to keep passengers safe.

save energy

AA Homepage Articles | Environment |

Five Ways to Beat the Heat and Save Energy

3 minute read

Work and summer activities would typically get you and your family out of the house during the day, allowing the use of programmable thermostats to lessen the load on your A/C unit and save energy.

But if you find yourself working from home this summer, and the kids can’t get outside as often as they used to, how can you keep the house cool while managing energy costs?

Here are some money-saving tips that also keep in mind environmentally friendly practices.

5 Ways to Save Energy In the Summer

 

1. Balance Light from Artificial and Natural Sources

You can find advice that says in order to reduce energy consumption, you should rely solely on natural light during your workday. But you’ll also hear that on really hot days, you should keep the shades closed to prevent the sun from heating up your house.

So, which one is it?

You can incorporate both strategies for peak efficiency–you just have to get your timing right.

Make good use of morning sunlight before it’s too hot by setting up your workspace next to a window.

Then as you near your lunch break, draw the curtains to block out the most intense hours of sunlight. Have a separate workspace in the cool basement with artificial light, or have a lamp ready to go next to that window workstation.

Bonus: If you have kids at home, the afternoon curtain draw is the perfect time for them to take a nap break. (And magically your productivity increases!)

 

2. Change Your Light Bulbs

Speaking of artificial light, take some time to look at the light bulbs in your home.

EnergyStar estimates that around 60% of bulbs in the average home are inefficient and could be replaced by LEDs. LED bulbs are 90% more efficient than traditional bulbs and well worth the upgrade in overall savings.

Plus, it’s easy to find them in a variety of color temperatures, so you can pick the mood that fits your space.

 

3. Cook Smarter

More families are cooking at home because of stay-at-home orders and reduced restaurant capacity due to social distancing practices. While this is already a money-saver in most cases, you can also conserve energy by limiting the number of times you open the fridge and/or oven while preparing your meals.

Take advantage of pressure cookers, slow cookers, and toaster ovens for smaller baking and toasting tasks. These appliances save time, keep the house cool, and save energy compared to a large conventional oven.

 

4. Clean Efficiently

With kids at home, they can be doing their share of laundry and dishes. But make sure they aren’t wasting energy in the process.

Aim for washing and drying only full loads of laundry, since running appliances at maximum capacity increase their energy efficiency. You can also avoid heating up the house with the dryer by hanging clothes outside on the line when the weather permits.

Also, make use of your dishwasher. It may give off some heat while it’s running, but it’s worth the trade-off compared to the energy consumed when handwashing dishes. Just make sure you’re only running it when it’s full to enjoy optimal efficiency.

 

5. Check Your Fans

Fans are a low-cost way to keep a space cool and comfortable. They create a “wind chill” effect inside the home, allowing you to keep the A/C at a higher temperature while you feel the same cooling effect. According to Energy.gov, with the use of a ceiling fan, you can comfortably increase the A/C by as much as 4°F.

Just make sure the fan is spinning in the optimal direction. During the heat of summer, you want the fan’s blades to spin counter-clockwise to avoid forcing hot air down into the room.

It’s also important to keep your fan clean of dust and cobwebs, both for efficiency and to prevent issues with allergies.

Healthy Air Is on the Way

Find an Aprilaire professional near you.

healthy air

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Air |

Long-lasting Healthy Air – Creating A Safer Environment

2 minute read

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an increased interest in the health of indoor environments, from clean surfaces to healthy air.

Shared spaces like restaurants and bars are taking measures like leaving more space between tables, hoping to reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading through the flow of air. (One study in China found air conditioning to be the likely culprit of transmission in a restaurant.)

Some cities are trying out unique measures to ensure social distancing outdoors in parks and other public places. In Seattle, city workers mowed circles in the grass to encourage proper distancing.

And when it comes to your home, what changes have you made during this time? Maybe you’ve installed an air purifier or increased the number of times you disinfect door handles and other high-touch surfaces.

While the exact methods of transmission for this coronavirus haven’t been confirmed, the World Health Organization recommends maintaining distance from others (even if they’re not showing symptoms) and regular handwashing.

Even when the threat of coronavirus is under control, you can still employ many of these strategies to create a healthy and more comfortable home environment. Whether it’s wildfire smoke, urban pollution, or chemical fumes, there are constant issues testing the quality of the air you breathe.

It’s Time to Care About Healthy Air
Breathe a sigh of relief.

Learn More

With a focus on quality indoor air for a lifetime, here are some areas to keep in mind when creating a consistently healthy environment in your home.

Healthy Air Strategies

Cleaning For Viruses

This is top of mind during the pandemic, but it’s something you can always be aware of. Annual cold and flu seasons are caused by viruses, and some air filters are capable of removing virus-sized particles from the air. This is not a cure-all, but it can be an important piece in protecting yourself from virus-caused illnesses.

Moisture Control

A common issue in living spaces is mold growth. While it’s impossible to completely remove, it can be tightly controlled by maintaining healthy humidity throughout the home.

Managing Allergies

Whether you have seasonal allergies or find yourself sniffling with every season, a major way to take back control is to maintain an allergy-free living space. Through a combination of purification and ventilation, you can live more comfortably by managing your exposure to allergens.

Removing VOCs

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are found in a range of common household items like paints, aerosol sprays, and cooking exhaust. It’s important to have the infrastructure in place to remove these from your home and replace them with fresh air.

Replacing Water Panels for Humidifiers

Aprilaire recommends replacing your humidifier’s water panel annually. Proper humidity levels can make your home more comfortable, use less energy, and reduce the risk of becoming ill.

Detecting Radon

The EPA estimates that 1 in 15 homes has elevated radon levels, putting millions of people at higher risk of lung cancer. Start with radon detectors and then evaluate what the solutions are if your home does have an issue.

Healthy Air System

Each area fits into Aprilaire’s Healthy Air System™. We want to empower you with the knowledge and resources required to create a healthy air environment in your home. Start by talking to a pro about ongoing concerns in your home and to discover other areas you may want to be aware of.

This program helps you create a healthy environment during the current pandemic and beyond for everyday healthy air.

Healthy Air Is on the Way

Find an Aprilaire professional near you.

humidity control

Healthy Humidity |

Using Humidity Control for Healthy Basement Air

2 minute read

Humidity Control Reduces Pests and Airborne Viruses

It lurks beneath the surface. You cannot see it, but it’s there. It’s crawlspace and basement air. No matter how much you want to ignore it, but the air in your basement and crawlspace is the same air that you breathe in your living spaces. The importance of using humidity stretches farther than just maintaining healthy basement air. Keeping your humidity between 30-60 percent reduces a host of issues including dry skin and scratchy throats.

Every day, just through everyday activities like showering and washing the dishes, most homes put 25 pounds of moisture into the air. That moisture has to go somewhere and in homes with reduced ventilation, that moisture just sticks around and increases your risk of mold, mildew, or mite infestations.

Mites and Pests

Termites, dust mites, or any mite can wreak havoc on your home or its foundation. The termite industry alone is worth north of 6 billion dollars annually. Once termites are in your home and have created structural damage, they can be an absolute pain to get rid of them. Due to their relatively thin layer of skin, mites cannot survive in 50 percent humidity. They need hot, moist air. Humidity control makes it nearly impossible for pests to survive.

Airborne Viruses

Bacteria and airborne viruses love dry air. Maintaining humidity between 30-60 percent your basement and crawl space reduces the amount of your viable airborne viruses in your home to less than 1 percent. Take COVID-19 for example. COVID-19 is in the same family of viruses that cause the flu and the common cold. If you have different people coming over into your home or family members venturing outside of the house, maintaining proper humidity control can reduce the risk of transmission and proliferation of these airborne viruses.

Asthma and Allergies

In fact, according to the US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health, this reduction can happen in just two days. It also significantly lowers the different allergy and asthma triggers in your home such as dust mites, mold, and mildew. If you do not like getting sick, keeping your humidity between 30-60 percent significantly lowers your risk.

Polluted Indoor Air is a Risk Factor

Polluted indoor air is a risk factor. The EPA estimates that the air inside our homes is up to 5 times worse than the air inside our homes due to poor ventilation, chemicals, dust, mold, mildew, and improper humidity triggering respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma. Health problems do not end there. In fact, the EPA states that poor indoor air can increase the risk of cardiovascular issues and cancer. Without a proper system in place, the filtering system for all of these harmful particulates is your family’s lungs.

Humidity Control with an Aprilaire Dehumidifier

Although a myriad of problems can be caused by improper humidity, solving them only requires one – an Aprilaire Dehumidifier. You can easily monitor relative humidity, reduce musty smells and odors, and keep your basement dry.

Maintain 30-60 percent humidity to keep your home and family healthy.