As we drift further away from the sticky summer heat and into cool breezes and sweater weather, autumn isn’t the only season we’re approaching. Fall allergy season is in our sights with all its runny noses, watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing galore. Ragweed starts releasing pollen during the cool nights and warm days of August, lasting through September and October. Damp, fallen leaves are breeding airborne mold. Dust mites are being stirred up and carried home from school.
And while you can’t control all these allergens outside your home, you can help maintain better indoor air quality. Most people don’t realize it, but your AC unit can actually relieve and protect from some of these allergens, helping you breathe easier.
Your first step is making sure you have high quality, high efficiency air filters. Filters with a higher MERV rating don’t just trap dust and dirt, they can trap smaller particles like mold spores and pollen. Make sure you’re changing your air filter regularly. While the manufacturer specs will recommend a certain amount of time (usually bimonthly), changing your filter more frequently can significantly improve air quality in your home.
Your air ducts should also be properly sealed. If there are any leaks or tears in your air ducts, it can allow unfiltered air to pass through into your home. Signs that your air ducts aren’t airtight include hot and cold spots in your home, dust on top of your doors, and higher than average energy bills.
Finally, make sure you keep an eye on your house’s temperature. After a long summer, it’s tempting to let your home drop to lower temperatures. However, cold air can irritate your nasal patches and airway, causing swelling and making breathing more difficult. Keep your home at around 70 degrees. It’s easier on your lungs and your wallet.
For more ways to improve indoor air quality, follow these suggestions from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology to reduce ragweed pollen count in your home:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Limit time outdoors when ragweed counts are high
- Wear a dust mask when doing outdoor tasks
- Don’t wear outdoor work clothes in your home
- Use HEPA (high efficiency particular air) filters
- Use a clothes dryer as opposed to outdoor clothesline