Are Your Pets Causing Your Utility Bill to Skyrocket?

The Unexpected Costs of Pet Ownership

San Diego is pet friendly! We love that about our city! Surely, your pets are a part of the family. Fido & fluffy are a comfort for you, fun for your children and visitors to your home, and they’re the perfect welcoming committee at the end of a long day. However, your pets probably also have their own column in your budget every month. As their caregivers, we must feed and provide medical care for our animals and we’d be lying if we said we don’t spoil them with treats & toys! It’s all expected as part of caring for a pet. However, there may be a cost you didn’t expect to accrue.

costs of owning a pet

If you’re staring at your most recent utility bill from San Diego Gas & Electric is through the roof, it may not be your spouse who mistakenly leaves the hall light on all. the. time. or your kids who never stop charging their devices. It could be your HVAC system!

Is my PET really affecting my utility bill?

There are a lot of reasons your HVAC system could be hiking your utility bill. You may need to upgrade to a newer, more energy efficient furnace or the SEER rating for your air conditioning system might be less than ideal. However, it could also be the way you operate your machine OR how hard it’s working to push air through debris.

If you are a pet owner and you find that your utility bill is too high, try these fixes for your HVAC system:

  1. Set your HVAC system on a timer while everyone is gone.
    Do your pets stay home while everyone else is at work or school? If so, you may make efforts to accommodate them while you’re out – you leave on a television so they’re not as lonely, leave them a new treat, and keep your thermostat kicked to ‘comfortable’ all day long. They’re SO lucky to have you.However, if your HVAC system is laboring to heat or cool your home all day long while Rover slips in and out of the doggie door casually all day, you might be wasting home comfort resources. Instead, we recommend setting your thermostat on a timer so that periodicially throughout the day, your home is warmed or cooled to your usual standards but it isn’t kicking on all day, unnecessarily. Bonus: Your home will be sunny and 70 when you get home from a hard day!
  2. Brush your pets more often.
    The other BIG effect your pet has on your utility bill comes straight from the fur – you know, the stuff you pull off of your favorite pair of pants and sweep off the floor every. single. day? By brushing your dog or cat and disposing of the hair, you can stop all that extra fluff from circling the air and ending up coating your vents and gumming up your air filters. Not only does this require extra wear & tear on your system, it also requires more energy for your system to push air through all the fuzz, thus raising your bill!
  3. Change your air filters more often.
    In reference to the previous issue, homes with pets require more frequent replacement of filters to better combat the hair issue. Even with regular brushing, our furry friends still shed like crazy!
  4. Clean & monitor your outdoor heating and cooling unit.
    It’s less common, but more rough & rambunctious pets like to climb on and play with outdoor AC units and other backyard paraphernalia. To avoid damage, teach your pets to avoid the area, provide a barrier to the unit such as a low fence or trellis, and monitor the unit often to check for debris. This is a good practice for homeowners anyway as loathsome pests can infiltrate & damage your system.
  5. Have your HVAC system inspected.
    There are elements of your HVAC system that simply must be inspected and maintained by a professional. This is especially the case for homeowners with ductwork, but it’s true for even the simplest packaged unit. Your Airmaxx technician can inspect the entirety of your system and determine if there are any other energy efficiency solutions not being implemented yet.

For more tips on saving money, or to schedule your HVAC system inspection, contact Airmaxx n San Diego or El Cajon today!

San Diego Wildfires Affect Indoor Air Quality – Here’s What YOU Can Do

Why Clean Air Matters

Here at Airmaxx, we’re air people. We care deeply about making sure that the air around us is not only comfortably cooled and heated as the seasons wax and wane, but more importantly – that our air is safe and comfortable to breathe.

We care about air quality because we are people, with families and friends. We personally know and serve asthmatics and emphysema sufferers, people with COPD, people with compromised lungs and lung cancer AND thousands of people who don’t have any of these issues, and would like to stay that way. We use filters to be sure that dust particles and common allergens don’t harm your health but there’s something bigger to focus on here.

Clean air is more of a luxury now than ever before on planet Earth. City smog and car emissions have been an enemy of indoor air quality experts like us for years, but here in San Diego, there’s another nemesis nobody ever talks about: smoke.

Southern California has an air quality problem

Air quality is affected by the outdoor landscape in any region of our world. Cities get smog, open areas get dust storms and blowing sand, greener areas produce more pollen and here, where it is beautiful year-round and often dry, we get wildfires. It isn’t every year, and it isn’t always really bad. This year, we’ve been ravaged and the results are unfortunate. Even with the best case scenario in mind – fires that have been put out and kept away from homes and people – smoke is still inevitable and it lasts.

According to our government’s AirNow air quality website, the biggest health threat from smoke comes from fine particles. Fine particles can irritate your eyes and make you cough, cause bronchitis, and exacerbate the symptoms for those who have chronic heart or lung diseases. For these individuals, smoke inhalation can be fatal.

Airmaxx has indoor air quality solutions

Keep your air filters replaced.  One of the ways that your heating & cooling system protects the indoor air quality in your home is by actively filtering out dust and allergens. Especially advanced HEPA filters can reduce your intake of fine particles from smoke inside your home. Your filter cannot work to keep your home healthy if it is not replaced regularly. Homeowners in areas with poor air quality outdoors are encouraged to support their own indoor air quality by changing more often than usual.

Buy an air purifier. Air purifiers sit inside your home, not unlike a humidifier or dehumidifier, and they recirculate the air, filtering it for use. This is especially effective in taking the air that comes in from your open windows or doors and turning it into safer, more breathable air.

Keep your home tightly sealed. Cracks in door casings and window frames, as well as at the roof-level can cause unclean air to seep into your home, making your HVAC filters and your air purifier work harder and putting your family at risk. Have your home inspected for air leaks regularly to avoid this.

Pay attention to the AQI. You can check the air quality index for the San Diego area at the Air Pollution Control District website. This will tell you what to expect. If air quality is particularly bad, it is best to stay indoors as much as possible and to keep your windows closed. Note: If it is excessively hot outside when air quality is poor, and your home does not have air conditioning, you may want to seek alternate shelter to stay safe.

Contact us. At Airmaxx, we are especially passionate about clean air initiatives for our beautiful city. We will be happy to inspect your home and HVAC system and offer air quality solutions to keep you safe and comfortable no matter what happens outdoors. Contact us to schedule a visit from our air quality experts today!

10 Reasons Your Family Needs a Humidifier

Do I Need a Humidifier?

Here in San Diego, we enjoy the benefits of a moderate and comfortable winter – for the most part. Unfortunately, we also live in an environment that is dry in the winter. While this helps us stave off the snow, ice, and freezing temperatures of other parts of the country, it wreaks its own havoc.

Dryness in your air – especially inside your home – can cause a lot of sneaky symptoms and other problems to your health and to your home. While we chalk many of these symptoms up to the throes of the winter season, there’s another culprit – a lack of humidity. Run through this checklist to see if any of these problems are all too familiar – or if you remember them from last year. If so, you may be at risk of living in a too-dry environment:

Common Dry-Air Problems

Cracking skin – especially at the joints
Chapped lips
Dry eyes
Frequent nasal congestion or nose bleeds
Dry, scratchy throat
Cotton mouth
Coughing – especially a very dry, unproductive cough
For asthma sufferers – more frequent flare-ups at home or while sleeping
Chronic snoring
Dry, itchy skin
Brittle hair and dandruff
Cold, flu, or bronchitis outbreaks throughout your family

Cracking paint or wallpaper on your walls or other structures
Damage to wooden furniture or beams
Cracking leather inside your home
Cracked or brittle upholstery inside your home
Wrinkled or cracked book pages and bindings
Astronomical utility bills when you run your heat

Sound familiar? You DO Need a Humidifier!

What will a Humidifier do for me?

Humidifiers work to regulate the rH, or relative humidity, inside of your home. They’re gentle, safe to operate – even around babies and children – and they’re good for everyone in your family if your air is too dry! Even your pets can avoid itchy, flaky skin and the same dry, wintry symptoms you suffer from when the humidifier is running. The humidity your new humidifier will bring to your air restores a balance which allows your family to breathe easier and may even stave off the kinds of bacteria that thrive in dry environments – keeping you all healthier. Moisture in your air will also protect your walls, your furniture, and your energy bill. Your heat will crank on less often if the air is moist, thus making it feel slightly warmer. The dry air here in San Diego is cool, making your heater work extra & costing you a fortune!

For more on the benefits of humidifiers, check out our infographic here & share it with your loved ones, to keep their homes and health top-quality this fall & winter! Tweet @AirmaxxHVAC and let us know how your new humidifier makes you feel!

humidifiersinfg

 

Please note: though humidifiers are reputed as being helpful, if not preventive during cold and flu season, we’re HVAC specialists & not doctors. We can’t promise any health benefits or curative powers of humidifiers but we sure hope yours makes you feel better this winter! Thanks, Airmaxx.

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Extreme Weather Can Affect the Air in Your Home

Did you know that extreme weather can have an impact on the quality of air in your home? Heat waves, floods and other severe weather conditions may affect indoor air quality (IAQ) and raise the risk of certain health conditions, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine.

It’s important to know this information because we spend so much of our time indoors. Inside your home is the one place where you are supposed to feel safe and at ease, yet it may be leading to future health problems that you don’t know of yet.

How Does Weather Affect Indoor Air Quality?

Extreme weather like excessive rain, snow or climate change can cause the home to be damp and moldy. Usually, the dampness occurs because there are leaks on the exterior of the home that let in water and moisture. The moisture then builds up and turns to mold. This can lead to a range of negative symptoms such as breathing problems and asthma.

Another issue that can occur is power outages. If a severe storm rips through the area and causes homes to lose power, homeowners can be at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning from using portable power generators. These generators are not to be used in small spaces indoors.

Who’s Most at Risk?

The people most affected by poor indoor air quality are vulnerable populations such as seniors or those with compromised immune systems. However, we all need air to survive, so we are all affected by poor quality of the indoor air.

More Problems With Indoor Air Quality

Weatherization is a popular form of “weatherproofing” a home from wind, moisture, heat loss, etc. Unfortunately, some people think this will help with the quality of the air in your home. The purpose of weatherization is to seal air leaks and insulate homes so that heat doesn’t escape. While it can also prevent rain and moisture from getting into the home, it won’t necessarily improve air quality.

It’s also worth pointing out that even with a high efficiency AC system, you still run the risk of poor indoor air quality. As it gets warm and you run your AC more and more, moisture then has the chance to build up in the coils of the air conditioner, especially if you live in a high-humidity area. And if you don’t have a good filtration system, it can turn to mold.

Indoor Air Quality Experts

Concerned with your home’s air quality? If you would like to learn more about our innovative and beneficial air quality management tools, give the industry experts at AirMaxx a call today! Comfort and efficiency are our specialties!

Learn More About Our Innovative IAQ Services Now!

Is the Air You Breathe Making You Sick?

Imagine you’re sitting in a crowded room. You glance around at the people sitting next to you, when you realize you’re all sitting in a room with no windows. You take a deep breath that quickly turns into a yawn. After a few minutes, you notice your face feels flushed, and you suddenly wish you could take a nap. The Indoor Air Quality of the home or office may be the reason why, see how it effects us everyday and how we don’t realize it.

Yawning In A Meeting, at Work

While you might not fall asleep, you probably are feeling some effects of poor air quality. The air we breathe indoors often has a negative effect on our ability to pay attention and our overall health. In fact, a range of health and environmental experts note that poor indoor air quality can make us sleepier, sicker, and even dumber. Considering that the average person spends around 90% of their time indoors, we clearly need a better understanding of what we’re actually breathing.

What is Indoor Air Quality?

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, indoor air quality describes “how inside air can affect a person’s health, comfort, and ability to work.” Many of us probably take for granted that our homes, schools, workplaces, and other buildings are properly ventilated, and the air we’re breathing isn’t hurting us. The reality is that indoor air quality presents us with some significant health risks, including asthma, impaired judgment, and even cancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency ranks indoor air pollution among the top five environmental health risks in the United States. This leads us to two key questions. What are these risks and where do they come from?

There are two primary sources that contribute to poor indoor air quality – air pollution and improper ventilation. When it comes to air pollution, what we’re usually talking about are the harmful particles that are introduced into the air through smoke, dust, pollen, gases, and other chemicals. On the other hand, improper ventilation generally refers to the features of a room, home, or other building that limit good air circulation.

Sick at work

The term “pollution” tends to conjure images of giant smoke stacks with clouds of smoke billowing from the top, but some of the most common pollutants we encounter are in our own homes, schools, and workplaces. Indoor air pollution usually comes from sources like mold and pollen, tobacco smoke, household cleaning products, and building materials like asbestos. In the short term, common symptoms of exposure to these pollutants include itchy eyes, runny nose, and dizziness or fatigue at first, followed by other allergic reactions and asthma shortly after. When we look at the long term, the health risks become more severe, including respiratory diseases, heart disease, and in some cases cancer.

Most people must deal with indoor air pollution because buildings or homes either have not been properly maintained or properly upgraded. For example, poor maintenance of roofs and windows can prompt mold growth and water problems, just as cracks in a home’s foundation can lead to problems with radon. Also, as more and more buildings are designed and upgraded to be more energy efficient, air pollutants are sometimes trapped inside. Energy-efficient homes and buildings can be a tradeoff for those that allow more fresh air to circulate and structures to breathe. This means we must consider not only air pollution, but also improper ventilation.

AirMaxx Infographic

Many of us might wrongfully assume that the air we breathe indoors is fairly similar to the air we breathe outdoors. In some cases, however, indoor air quality is far worse than outdoor air. For example, office buildings in urban areas risk higher carbon monoxide rates, because their air intake also takes in fumes from car emissions. The differences when we walk through the door are sometimes so subtle, it’s no surprise we hardly notice. But improper ventilation can present some serious health concerns, especially when it comes to air circulation and carbon dioxide concentrations.

As far back as 1970, researchers and building designers have been tracking sick building syndrome, which often results from poor indoor air quality, circulation, and ventilation. Symptoms are tough to pin down, but they include everything from itchy and watery eyes, nose, and throat to headaches, nausea, dizziness, problems concentrating, and cold and flu-like symptoms. Sick building syndrome remains a bit controversial, in that it’s difficult to track down the specific causes and symptoms that can be attributed to it. At the same time, researchers have begun to pinpoint the sources and symptoms of other ventilation problems, like high concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Think back to the crowded room scenario at the beginning of the article. Your flushed face and fatigue were most likely the result of improper ventilation and high concentrations of CO2. Gases like CO2 are measured in parts per million PPM. The typical measure of CO2 for outdoor air is 380 PPM, although some reports note that number is starting to climb toward 500. When we move indoors, that number is often much closer to 1000 PMM and can sometimes exceed 3000 PPM. The following table helps make sense of the important numbers on CO2:

 

What Should You Do About Indoor Air Quality?

Despite the increasing risks associated with both indoor air pollution and improper ventilation, consumers have many options when it comes to managing the effects of poor indoor air quality. The first and perhaps most obvious option is to develop a plan to improve the ventilation within your home. Homeowners should ensure that their heating and air conditioning system is properly maintained and that rooms are appropriately ventilated. Building managers and facilities operators should also measure particle levels and CO2 concentrations in workplaces and other spaces where people gather frequently, to keep those levels within an acceptable range.

Additionally, homeowners and building managers can also test for both carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels. While carbon monoxide is often treated as the bigger danger, which for the most part it is, CO2 also poses its fair share of health risks. Consumers can Monitor both CO and CO2 levels as part of their strategy for improving indoor air.

Building designers and architects also have a part to play in the future of ensuring good indoor air quality. Right now, energy efficiency and air quality are sometimes seen as a trade-off. A home can either be “tight” and keep the heat/AC trapped inside, or it can allow more fresh air to circulate while letting energy escape. Green building techniques allow for innovation when it comes to perceived trade-offs like this. There is room for develop new technologies and techniques for managing energy while improving indoor air quality, and designers and contractors would be well served to engage in that conversation.

New AirConditioning Unit

Finally, if you’re not able to upgrade your HVAC unit or improve your indoor ventilation system, you still have some options for reducing your health risks. The EPA maintains that air filters and other air cleaners serve as an option for helping to remove harmful materials in the air. Additionally, new research has provided some early support for the idea that multivitamins can help reduce the negative health effects associated with poor indoor air quality. Your best option is to remove the pollutants from the air before you breathe it, but you can also help manage the negative health effects should you experience them.

The next time you’re sitting in that crowded room, remember not to take for granted the quality of the air you’re breathing. Bodies release a lot of CO2 when we breathe, which can make the rest of us tired and unfocused when we’re not getting enough oxygen. And you never know what sorts of pollutants are lurking in the air ducts. With some careful monitoring and a few simple solutions, however, most of us should be able to breathe a bit more easily.

 

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Do I Really Have To Change My Air Filter Often?

HVAC Maintenance

Filters in your HVAC systems need to be changed periodically to ensure that the unit is running in peak efficiency and is not consuming more energy that it is supposed to. That said, there is no set rules for the required change-out frequency and the latter depends on a number of factors including the nature of the unit, what type of filter is used , where the unit is located and other environmental factors.

Units for residential facilities normally use pleated air filter, standard fiberglass throwaway filters or throwaway polyester filters. The efficiency levels of these filters vary but all of them need to be changed roughly every three months. But as we have already said, depending on various environmental factors, the homeowners may need to change their HVAC filters even more frequently than that. For example, if your home receives heavy foot traffic or if you have a pet or a smoker in the household, air filters may get clogged with pet hair, tobacco smoke and dirt from heavy footfall and in all of these cases, the normal lifespan of the filters will decrease.

Commercial and industrial units use more efficient and sophisticated air filters and change-out frequency will decrease in case of these filters. For example, with media air cleaners such as of the spaceguard variety, the lifespan can be 6 months to 1 year. However, change-out frequencies vary a great deal when it comes to commercial and industrial facilities, depending mainly on the nature of the activities performed within the premises.

The frequency is much higher in case of most industrial facilities and production units as the premises there typically stay saturated with many airborne pollutants, contaminants, soot and smoke. The production facilities normally use extensive filtration systems, but even then the filters often require to be changed every week.

In commercial sectors, restaurants need to change their filters every 1-2 months. This again will depend on the type of filter used and the footfall received. In case of strip malls, retail chains, the change-out frequency typically hovers around the 3-month mark.

Follow us for more articles on the subject and other useful information on how to keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently

Debunking Indoor Air Quality Myths

Although building manufacturing has improved by leaps and bounds over the years, poor indoor air quality is still a reality that can result in a lot of health problems for many. As such, it is important to separate the facts from the myths and do what is necessary to improve indoor air quality as far as is possible. Depending on the building and how it is being used, for example a corporate office environment versus a residential property, the indoor air issues will vary. For example, parking garages may have higher levels of carbon monoxide and propane, while living rooms may have issues with dust mites and pet dander. Added to the complex reality of poor indoor air quality, there are also misconceptions that continue to compound the problem. Below we address the some of the biggest and most popular indoor air quality myths and misconceptions.

Common Indoor Air Quality Myths

Myth #1 – Pollution is a problem for the outdoors

Nothing could be further from the truth. The air inside a building can be more than 10 times more polluted than the air outside that building. Add to this the fact that persons spend upwards of 80% of their time indoors, and it becomes clear how important it is to pay attention to the air quality indoors.

Myth #2 – Ozone generators are safe

This is simply not true. While Ozone generators do help to fight chemicals, odors, bacteria and other pollutants, the truth is, they also themselves release harmful substances into the air. Ozone should always be used under proper surveillance, which is the case when they are used in clinics or other medical facilities.

Myth #3 – It is very difficult to control and improve indoor air quality

This is also false. While it can be expensive to try and improve indoor air quality due to the kinds (and number of) equipment needed, it is certainly not difficult in the least. On the positive side, the monetary investment pays for itself over time.

Of course, there are many things that one can do to improve indoor air quality, including using green buildings, and using gas detectors and placing them close to the source of the gas, among others. If you would like to improve your home’s indoor air quality, we can help you do just that.

Call Our Indoor Air Quality Experts Today!

(619) 655-3010

Indoor Air Quality Creates A Better Environment For Employees & Customers

 

When it comes to making a comfortable work environment or your employees can give their best, and your customers are at their most comfortable, you need to take a serious look at the quality of your indoor air. Commercial indoor air quality is overlooked way too often, however this is an extremely important part of creating a positive environment for both customers and employees. Just how much of a difference can clean-air versus polluted indoor air make? Read on to learn the answer!

The first thing understand is that the quality of air inside the building can directly affect the health of those who were there. There are many people who are extremely sensitive to certain allergies like mold, cat hair, cigarette smoke, and other smells that can cause runny nose, watery eyes, or even coughing and asthmatic attacks in severe situations. You don’t want these people to be hurting just because the air inside isn’t at its best. Even if you aren’t it naturally sensitive to that type of stuff, do you really want to be breathing in air that can have that type of an effect on people?

All of us have had that experience where the air was especially dry and so you had irritated eyes, a sore and dry throat that hurt and made a hard to talk, and the general unease that can come with that. If you’re not comfortable you’re not going to do your best work likewise, your customers are less likely to stick around and make a deal if they are having trouble breathing are talking.

The good news is there are many things you can do to improve the quality of air inside to your building. One of the most important steps is to look at the ventilation your building and make sure it is up to par. You may have to replace an old system, or at the very least make sure you practice regular filter changes to keep the moving air as fresh and clean as possible.

If you do not have a commercial HVAC system, that is another way to make investment that really pays off for you, your employees, and your customers. For more information on all manner of HVAC issues, make sure to follow our blog!

Use HVAC UV Lamps To Kill Mold And Bacteria

There is mold and bacterial growth in all air conditioning systems. These organisms thrive in warmth and humidity, exactly what exists in the moist environment of your air conditioning unit. One technology used to kill mold and bacteria on the indoor coils is the use of HVAC UV lamps.

Health Effects of Mold and Bacteria
Molds exist everywhere and grow naturally outdoors. They are easily brought into buildings through ventilation and air conditioning systems. The condensation created by air moving through the vents, inner coils and ducts of an air conditioner provides the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

If you can smell a musty odor or see mold growth, you know you have a serious problem. Adults and children with allergies are especially sensitive to airborne mold and bacteria. Some individuals may experience severe reactions that need immediate medical attention.

The more vulnerable populations include children and infants, asthmatics, and the elderly. People with a weakened immune system because of chemotherapy treatment or HIV/AIDS, or those with existing respiratory conditions will experience even more serious problems. Symptoms of sensitivity are non-specific, and can include:
• eye irritation
• nasal stuffiness
• skin irritation
• wheezing and shortness of breath
• asthmatic episodes
• fever
• possible lung mold infections
Those experiencing adverse health effects should consult with a doctor for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.

Using UV Lamps for Mold Control
The traditional way to control indoor mold and bacteria growth is to clean indoor coils and control moisture regularly. Totally eliminating moisture in an air conditioning unit is not possible, so another approach is used. Treating conditioned air with HVAC UV lamps has been found to reduce and even eliminate air borne contaminants like molds and bacteria, and produce a much healthier air for people to breathe.

This technology has been in use for over 70 years around the world, with installations in all types of buildings, from hospitals, offices, processing and manufacturing plants, and individual residences. With proper exposure times, UV radiation will inactivate and kill mold and bacteria microorganisms. There are other benefits as well:
• UV treatment reduces the need for constant cleaning of indoor coils on the air conditioning unit
• the HVAC system will operate more efficiently and last longer
• UV units are easy to maintain
• lamps are easy to install and replace
• energy and maintenance costs are reduced
Installing a UV lamp fixture to control bacteria and mold in an HVAC installation often pays for itself in months.