Healthy Homes

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How Healthy Homebuilders Go Above The Home Energy Code

4 minute read

As industry experts, we hear a lot of questions about home energy codes, construction specs, efficiency programs, and code-compliant products. Here are the answers to some of those most frequently asked questions.

What are some of the notable home energy codes?

Over the past several years, homebuilding codes, standards, and programs have been updated by the IECC, the EPA, ASHRAE, and the California Energy Commission. Additionally, mandatory standards and paths to compliance can also vary by region, state, and even municipality.

IECC

The International Energy Conservation Code—America’s model energy code—sets minimum efficiency standards for new construction. Every three years, officials from municipalities and states across the nation vote on proposed changes to the IECC to incorporate new building technologies and practices. These proposed evolutions ensure that new American homes and commercial buildings meet modern-day minimum levels of safety, fire protection, and efficiency.

The 2012 edition—­called “The 30 Percent Solution”—­was the first comprehensive efficiency proposal ever offered. The 2015 and 2018 IECCs offered smaller efficiency gains while the 2021 Code aims to achieve greater savings over the 2018 version and includes a Zero Energy Homes Appendix.

EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor airPLUS is a voluntary partnership and labeling program that helps new home builders improve the quality of indoor air by requiring construction practices and product specifications that minimize exposure to airborne pollutants and contaminants.

The EPA created Indoor airPLUS to help builders meet the growing consumer preference for homes with improved Indoor Air Quality. The home must first earn the ENERGY STAR® Certified Home label—the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency.

To earn the Indoor airPLUS label, the builder adds additional home design and construction features to help protect qualified homes from moisture and mold, pests, combustion gases, and other airborne pollutants. The home must be inspected by an independent third party to ensure compliance with the EPA’s rigorous guidelines and specifications.

ASHRAE

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers—with its focus on building systems, energy efficiency, Indoor Air Quality, refrigeration, and sustainability—is shaping tomorrow’s building environment today

The ASHRAE 62.2 standard is the recognized standard for residential ventilation system design and acceptable Indoor Air Quality. Expanded and revised for 2019, it specifies minimum ventilation rates and other measures in order to minimize adverse health effects for occupants.

California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission’s Title 24 is updated every three years to ensure that the latest technology is being leveraged to achieve energy efficiency and preserve outdoor and indoor environmental quality. The 2019 update focuses on several key areas to improve the energy efficiency of newly constructed buildings as well as additions and alterations to existing buildings.

One notable section of Title 24 addresses air filtration, requiring minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) 13 filters or equivalent in heating, cooling, and ventilation systems for residential homes.

Why is ventilation so important in modern construction home energy codes?

While energy codes have had positive influences on IAQ requirements, they have also created homes that are so tight for the sake of energy efficiency that IAQ needs more attention than ever before. However, a builder should not let a home energy code alone dictate their IAQ selection. In some areas, exhaust ventilation is all that’s required to meet home energy codes. However, AprilAire always recommends builders utilize supply-side ventilation.

The AprilAire Model 8145 Fresh Air Ventilator, when properly installed and set, will meet the mechanical ventilation requirements of:

  • 2012, 2015, and 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)
  • EPA Indoor airPLUS
  • ENERGY STAR® for Homes
  • ASHRAE 62.2
  • California Energy Commission’s Title 24

Why is it important to install filtration products that adhere to Title 24?

The California Energy Commission standards have placed the state on the forefront of energy efficiency, sustainability, energy independence, and climate change issues, providing a template for national standards within the U.S. as well as other countries. Even if you don’t currently fall under the regulatory requirements of Title 24, building to that standard will put you at the leading edge of Healthy Home construction and prepare you for a future where more states will likely follow the same or very similar standards. Most importantly, the requirement of MERV 13 air filters—which offer highly efficient home and system protection for up to 12 months—means your customers’ homes and families will be protected from common airborne allergens and asthma triggers, like dust, pet dander, mold, and more.

Why is it important to consider programs aimed at energy efficiency?

Energy efficiency programs help drive the implementation of projects and products that minimize or reduce energy usage, providing savings for homeowners as well as the environment. On the federal level, the ENERGY STAR® program provides rebate incentives as well.

Additionally, three states—California, Massachusetts, and New York—along with the city of Denver have already incorporated, or are looking to incorporate, Passive House design principles into their building codes and policies. These principles include:

  1. Superinsulated envelopes
  2. Airtight construction
  3. High-performance glazing
  4. Thermal-bridge-free detailing
  5. Heat recovery ventilation

How can my project be certified?

Builders interested in certifying their homes should work with their energy rater partner. Resources from RESNET and the EPA can also help point builders to certified raters. Builders can even check the standing of their current rater and see what certifications he or she possesses.

The graphic below illustrates how each program builds on the one before it. So, if you’re building an ENERGY STAR® home, inquire about IAP or Net Zero with your energy rater.

In short, resources from RESNET, the EPA, and the Energy & Environmental Builders Alliance (EEBA) are all great ways to find how you can take your home to the next level in regard to energy, health, and overall performance.

Strengthen Your Reputation as a Healthy Home Builder

Home energy codes are designed to ensure achievable levels of efficiency and are a great starting point for builders like you. The best builders don’t simply choose products to meet these codes—they choose them because they know that quality air systems can also protect homeowners’ health along with the well-being and preservation of the home overall.

By constructing homes that meet or exceed codes for Indoor Air Quality, you can distinguish yourself and build a reputation for designing superior homes.

AprilAire provides solutions, systems, and support so you can deliver on the promise of a Healthy Home to your customers. From technical resources to educational content, we’re here for you.

Contact us today to get started with professional-grade Healthy Air solutions for your homebuyers’ peace of mind.

Interview with the American Lung Association

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Breathing Healthy Air: Interview with the American Lung Association

4 minute read

At AprilAire, we encourage breathing Healthy Air because we know it benefits your overall health. The American Lung Association knows it too. That’s why AprilAire air filters are the National Proud Partner of the American Lung Association*, playing a key role in the fight to improve lung health and prevent lung disease.

We got to interview National Senior Vice President of Development Sally Draper about the importance of Healthy Air and how both AprilAire and the American Lung Association are working together to help you Breathe the Fullness of Life.

Could you introduce yourself for the readers and tell us about why you chose a career with the American Lung Association?

“I joined the Lung Association in 2014 because I was attracted to its comprehensive mission—to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Every day we help Americans breathe easier through our efforts to fund innovative research, advocate for policies that protect our lungs, and educate patients, caregivers, providers, and the public with science-backed information. We were founded more than 115 years ago, and the needs are greater today than ever before, including the youth vaping epidemic, climate change, and COVID-19!”

Can you tell us about the American Lung Association’s mission?

“The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Our work is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; champion clean air for all; improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and create a tobacco-free future. Whether it’s searching for cures to lung diseases, keeping kids off tobacco, or advocating for laws that protect the air we breathe, the work of the American Lung Association helps to save lives every day.”

How did AprilAire and the American Lung Association come to work together in the first place? What does that relationship look like presently?

“AprilAire and the American Lung Association forged a new relationship in 2018. We quickly realized how much we had in common. Our partnership was developed as we saw an opportunity to educate and help more consumers improve the air in their homes to create a healthier environment.

Since 2020, AprilAire has been a Proud Partner of the Lung Association with its 4” residential air filters. Additionally, AprilAire joined the Lung Association as our FY20 National Fight For Air Climb Partner For Healthy Air. The company has also supported the Lung Association’s “Stand Up For Clean Air” campaign. As part of this initiative, we are driving conversations around air quality, climate, and health. The Lung Association invited people to share their #MyCleanAirStory—knowing that when people realize climate and air quality are impacting the health of their neighbors, friends, and loved ones—they are more willing to act. AprilAire provided prizes for the #MyCleanAirStory contest, including one grand prize of a whole-home Indoor Air Quality upgrade (the AprilAire Healthy Air System™) and nine AprilAire Room Air Purifiers. This year, the company stepped up once again to sponsor the Wisconsin Fight For Air Climb in Milwaukee. Also in 2021, the Lung Association welcomed Dale Philippi, President and CEO of Research Products Corporation, AprilAire’s parent company, to the Lung Association’s Wisconsin Leadership Board of Directors.”

Tell us about the Fight For Air Climb.

“The American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb is the nation’s premier stair climbing challenge. At 38 events nationwide, children and adults of all ages participate in this celebratory stair-climbing adventure. Pre-pandemic, the Fight For Air Climb was held in several of our country’s most iconic skyscrapers. This year, the Lung Association invited participants outdoors for a one-of-a-kind adventure to support healthy lungs and clean air. In fact, Dale was among the company’s team of more than 50 employees that climbed the stairs at Milwaukee’s American Family Field on May 22nd, proving he puts his feet, time, and talent behind causes he supports.

AprilAire has been a stalwart partner in the Fight For Air Climb, promoting the event to employees, customers, trade partners, family, and friends. Through this unique vehicle, the company is engaging individuals of all ages to understand and celebrate the importance of Healthy Air.”

AprilAire’s air filters are a National Proud Partner of the American Lung Association. How do you feel our mission aligns with yours?

“Our CEO, Harold Wimmer, has said, ‘Breathing should not be an uphill battle, but for many it is… no one should have to fight for air on a daily basis.’ Similarly, Dale has declared, ‘We believe everyone deserves to breathe Healthy Air.’ As a National Proud Partner, AprilAire’s mission to enhance everyone’s health by improving the air in their homes aligns very closely with that of the American Lung Association, champion of clean air for all.”

What are the benefits of breathing Healthy Air and what are everyday things that people can do to Breathe the Fullness of Life?

“Clean air is essential for healthy lungs. The American Lung Association works to ensure that the air we breathe is clean and safe from harmful pollution. In fact, every year we publish our State of the Air Report, which looks at two of the most widespread and dangerous air pollutants, ozone and fine particulate matter. Our 2021 State of the Air Report found that more than 4 in 10 Americans—over 135 million people—are living in places with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

One of the most important things you can do to Breathe the Fullness of Life is to keep sources of pollution out of your home. Check out these commonsense tips on Lung.org. Additionally, ventilation helps reduce indoor air pollution, but it works best if paired with keeping known sources of air pollution out of the building. For tips on how to use ventilation to protect your lung health, check out our section on Ventilation: How Buildings Breathe.”

Fight for Healthy Air

At AprilAire, we believe everyone deserves to Breathe the Fullness of Life, and we’re not the only ones that feel this way. Through our Proud Partnership with the American Lung Association, we aim to fill every home with Healthy Air. Both AprilAire and the Lung Association believe that breathing Healthy Air should be available to everyone, and maintaining healthy Indoor Air Quality is an important step for your lung health. Read more about our partnership and the efforts of the American Lung Association on their website.

*Disclaimer: The American Lung Association does not endorse any product, device, or service.

St. Vincent de Paul

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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.

Healthy-Exercise-Space-at-Home

AA Homepage Articles | Wellness |

How to Create a Healthy Exercise Space at Home

2 minute read

Click play to listen to How to Create Healthy Exercise Space at Home article. 

Summertime offers endless opportunities to get active in the great outdoors. But sometimes things like extreme heat and high allergen levels will keep you indoors. On those days, you may not be able to run through a park or jump in the water, but you can still get the benefits of exercise with an indoor workout. Let’s make sure your home environment is optimized for safe and healthy indoor exercise.

Healthy Home Gym

Whether you’ve converted your entire garage into a gym or have just enough space for a stationary bike in the corner of your home office, a few key measures will ensure you’re getting the most out of your workout space.

Regular Cleaning

Don’t forget about your workout space when dusting, mopping, and vacuuming around the home. Keeping dust and grime at bay will help with odors and make it easier for you to breathe fresh air for all your workouts.

Start a habit of wiping down your equipment with a wet cloth and disinfectant spray after each exercise session. If you sweat onto a yoga mat or exercise pad, wipe them down and let them air out before rolling them up.

Air Purification

While regular cleaning is an essential step, it can also add chemicals to your space and kick dust up into the air. Air purification systems can remove those pollutants and work around the clock to make sure you and your family are breathing clean air.

An AprilAire whole-house air purifier works all through the home to remove pollutants and return fresh air.

If you want a boost to air quality in your exercise space, try out an AprilAire room air purifier, which uses a 4-stage filtration system to remove pollutants, allergens, and odors.

Balanced Humidity

Breathing and sweating add moisture to the air, which can exacerbate the high humidity levels of the summer months and increase the chances of mold and mildew growth.

An AprilAire whole-house dehumidifier delivers humidity control to your workout area and throughout your home, keeping moisture levels at a safe and comfortable level. Humidity between 40–60% is ideal for overall health and wellness.

Plus, a dehumidifier can reduce the burden on your air conditioning system, saving you money on energy and maintenance costs.

Deodorizing

Some gyms are easy to locate by smell—don’t let yours be one of them.

The battle against odors starts with fresh air ventilation, and because opening a window isn’t a great option in the summer, mechanical ventilation is a must-have in your space.

AprilAire whole-house fresh air ventilators remove stagnant air and bring in fresh, purified air. They reduce the concentration of indoor pollutants, and help kick out lingering smells. You can also use products that naturally absorb odors without disrupting your air quality, like baking soda or activated charcoal.