For many people, the end of winter is a time of celebration. The freezing weather begins to abate, the days become sunnier, and the flowers begin to bloom. For those of us who suffer from allergies, however, spring heralds the beginning of the most miserable time of the year. Sinuses become enflamed, eyes become watery, and sneezing becomes commonplace. Allergies can put a serious damper on enjoying the spring season. So how are we supposed to deal with allergies when springtime rolls around? Do we just accept that we’re going to have hay fever for a few months out of every year? Do we wear surgical masks and hope for the best every time we go outside? Well, those are both options, if not very good ones. However, there are many better ways that you can protect yourself against the effects of allergies this spring. Let’s take a look at two of them.
Did you know that a lot of the contaminants that cause allergy attacks can be found inside your home’s air? Simply staying inside is no defense against pollen and other allergens, which often collect and circulate through the ducts in your home. If you want to get rid of these contaminants, you’ll need an air purifier of some kind. These purifiers come in many different forms, each of which uses a different method to improve your indoor air quality. HEPA filters use fiber mesh so finely woven that it can capture viruses and bacteria out of the air. Ionization air purifiers make use of an electromagnetic field to magnetize contaminants in the air, which then stick to metal plates inside the devices. There are purifiers to fit many different kinds of indoor air quality needs, available in both portable and whole–house models.
As mentioned above, airborne contaminants in your home tend to hide in the ductwork. This can result in a large buildup of allergens and germs, which can be blown around your house every time you turn on a forced air system. Duct cleaning can improve your air quality by removing all of those contaminants in the ducts, so that you can use your heater or air conditioner without exposing yourself to more allergens. We recommend that you have your ducts cleaned at least once every two years, in order to maintain high indoor air quality.
For those of you looking for a new air conditioning system before summer sets in, a ductless mini–split might be the perfect solution. Centralized air conditioning has been held up as the ultimate in home cooling for a long time, and it certainly does have a lot to recommend it. However, there are a couple of disadvantages to using a centralized system, as well.
You don’t have a choice about which rooms get cool air; either the whole house gets air conditioned, or none of it. That can lead to a lot of wasted energy keeping parts of the house cool that you aren’t even using. Centralized air also can’t compensate for the different warming rates in different parts of the house. If one room of the house warms up much faster than the other rooms, due to insulation flaws or other factors, it is often much harder to keep that room comfortably cool with a central system.
What’s Advantageous about Ductless Systems?
Ductless systems, on the other hand, offer a whole new range of advantages to homeowners that centralized air systems cannot match. A ductless mini–split is a heat pump that is installed on the wall or ceiling of the room it is going to serve. A separate unit is installed outside the house, then connected to the inside unit by power and refrigerant lines. Up to four inside units can be connected to a single outside unit.
No Ducts, No Duct Leaks
Let’s take a look at the benefits of this kind of system. For one, the ductless unit eschews all ductwork in favor of delivering cool air directly to the room it serves. By doing this, it bypasses one of the biggest flaws in duct systems: leaks. As much as 30% of a central system’s output on average is lost to leaks in the ductwork. This makes a ductless mini–split much more energy efficient than a central air system.
Multiple Units = Greater Control
By using multiple ductless mini–splits instead of a centralized system, you also garner the advantage of finer control. Each ductless unit is outfitted with its own thermostat, allowing each room to have a different set of parameters for maintaining a comfortable climate. No more wasting energy with a one–size–fits–all solution.
Cooling as well as Heating
Finally, each ductless mini–split can also act as a heating system. This is done by reversing the flow of refrigerant in the system, making a ductless mini–split an energy efficient heater as well as an air conditioner. This could save you hundreds of dollars that would otherwise be spent on a completely separate heater.