It's flu season, which means it's time yet again to defend yourself against this year's iteration of the dreaded flu virus. For many people, that means getting their annual flu vaccine or stocking up on lots of chicken noodle soup. What you probably don't know is that your HVAC system can be a secret weapon against the millions of flu particles that may be lingering in your home's indoor air.
There are many ways you can put your HVAC system to good use in preventing flu symptoms, as explained below. Following these tips can help lessen your chances of needing that hot bowl of chicken noodle soup.
Upgrade to a Better Air Filter
Most air filters that come with the typical HVAC system are designed for basic filtration work. While they're more than capable of capturing dust, pollen and other large airborne particles, they're no match for the smaller bacteria and viruses that pass through untouched.
If you want to nab the microorganisms that are responsible for spreading the flu, you'll need to up your air filter's particle-grabbing game. That means switching to an air filter offering a higher minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV).
Simply upgrading from a fiberglass HVAC air filter rated at MERV 3 or 4 to a pleated air filter with a MERV of 7 or above can help cut down the amount of bacteria and viruses present in your home's indoor air. It also helps to change your air filter on a regular basis to avoid clogs that could hinder its performance.
Invest in an Air Purifier
Although upgrading your HVAC air filter is a definite plus in the fight against the flu virus, that still might not be enough to control its spread. Air purifiers offer another powerful tool you can use in your flufighting arsenal. These devices use HEPA filtration technology to significantly reduce airborne bacteria and viruses in your home's airstream.
In addition to the portable units you can move from room to room, there are also whole-house air purifiers that can be integrated into your existing HVAC system. Both options offer their own sets of benefits and drawbacks, so it's important to consider which one works best for your home.
Install a UV Light System
Keep in mind there's a difference between merely capturing the germs that cause colds and the flu and destroying those germs altogether. It turns out sunlight - or at least ultraviolet light that also happens to be a part of sunlight - is the best disinfectant when it comes to eliminating cold and flu germs.
By destroying the DNA bonds holding them together, UV-C light can stop most bacteria, viruses and other harmful microorganisms in their tracks. UV light systems capitalize on this by exposing vulnerable areas of your HVAC system to constant germ-killing UV radiation. These lights are typically installed near the return air duct and/or the evaporator coil.
By sterilizing exposed surfaces, UV lights prevent germs and other harmful microorganisms from gaining a foothold in your HVAC system.
Consider a Whole-House Humidifier
Winter's also a time when low humidity levels can wreak havoc on your health and comfort. Too little moisture in your indoor air can lead to dry sinuses, scratchy throats and dry skin. These factors, among others, can make it much easier for flu-causing germs to work their magic.
Keeping your home at an optimal indoor humidity of 40 to 60 percent can help decrease your chances of being exposed to the flu. While portable humidifiers offer a quick way to add much-needed moisture, buying a whole-house humidifier offers a better long-term way of managing your home's relative humidity during the winter months.
For more tips on staying healthy and staying safe this flu season, turn to the professionals at Seliga Heating and Cooling.