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Controlling your home’s airflow can leave allergies in the dust

Many people welcome summer days not with smiles but swearing, sneezes, sniffles, and sensitivity to seasonal allergies that leaves them sprinting indoors.

Yet their home might not be the allergen safe haven they consider it to be. Some of those very allergens making people ill can easily come indoors – and may be residing alongside them! The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors, which means a building’s air quality is vital to ensure proper health. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to improve your home’s air quality.

Properly seal air leaks throughout your home. The first step to controlling airflow in your home is to get the important air leaks sealed. Many homeowners are surprised at the vast number of places that air can seep into their home! Gaps, cracks and holes can be found anywhere in a house; the most important ones are found in the basement (or crawlspace) and the attic. Closing those air leaks can not only minimize allergens from entering your home, but they can prevent your heating and cooling systems from working harder than needed, saving you energy – and money.

An energy audit can offer greater insights on your home. If you are interested in improving control of your home’s air quality, consider an energy audit. A contractor can provide the in-depth analysis of your home; the auditor should do a blower door test to determine how your home is naturally ventilating. The audit will include actionable steps you can take to improve control of your home’s ventilation if there is too much air leakage.

Regularly check and replace your air filter. Your home’s air conditioner likely has been working hard all summer (just as your heat works hard all winter) to catch dust and other allergens from the air flowing in the home’s ducts. Over time, that dust and other allergens get caught in the air filter and can overload it. Regularly checking and replacing filters when needed can help prevent a system from working harder than needed. It also will ensure that your filter can continue to work as intended to minimize allergens in your home.

Improving your home’s air flow may help you feel better all year round. You can contact your local electric cooperative’s energy advisor for advice on your home’s energy use.