Summertime, and the living is easy—except indoors, where germs, allergens, bacteria and the like can disrupt your happy home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is typically two to five times more polluted than outdoor air—which is already quite, well, nasty. During the warmer months, thanks to an increase in pollen and the constant in-and-out-and-moving-about of people, more contaminants than usual enter your abode.
But don’t despair. There are ways to keep your home comfortable when the temperatures climb and the sun shines bright. It just requires that you clean it and cool it. Here are some simple steps to breathe easier—and cleaner—indoors this summer.Maryviolet/Getty Images
1. Clean…with Plants
Surface cleaning can only do so much to eliminate irritants. To make your home truly comfortable during the summer, you need to make changes to the inside of your home. One simple update is to add a few air-scrubbing houseplants to your décor. Certain plants enable what is called phytoremediation, a process that helps remove pollution, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), from the air. Common in many household cleaners, VOCs are also emitted by carpeting, wall paint and furniture. In other words, you’re surrounded by them—and they’re not good for you.
Some of the best plants for sucking up those VOCs and clearing the air include:
- Spider plant—An easy-to-grow plant with arched yellow, white and green leaves, this houseplant is extremely effective at removing ozone from indoor air.
- Anthurium—An exotic-looking plant featuring red, heart-shaped flowers, anthurium helps rid the air of ammonia, toluene, xylene and formaldehyde.
- Ficus—This tree grows quickly and helps remove benzene and trichloroethylene from indoor environments.
- Bamboo palm—These bushy plants help remove benzene and trichloroethylene from the air, as well as formaldehyde.
Fun fact: NASA is conducting tests on the pollution-absorbing properties of plants like these for consideration in future spaceflights.
2. Avoid Allergens
While this may seem daunting during peak spring and summer allergy-producing months, there are several things you can do to shield occupants from pollen and other airborne allergens. For example, consider limiting your outdoor activities to evening hours or after a rainfall when pollen counts are lower. That means going for a run or walk at twilight, or after a storm.
Also, leave clothes and shoes at the door, so you don’t track particulates into the house. And shower after outdoor activities. A little bit of planning can go a long way toward reducing allergens in the household.
3. Clean the Air
Still, the best way to boost the comfort level—and health—of your home during the summer is by removing pollutants and “scrubbing” the actual air of your home. For that, you need an air purification system like the Trane CleanEffects™ Air Cleaner. This whole-home air cleaner removes up to 99.98% of airborne pollutants—like asthma-inducing allergens, and germs and bacteria—resulting in a healthier environment.
Unlike portable stand-alone air purifiers, the Trane CleanEffects Air Cleaner is part of your home’s HVAC system, and employs breakthrough technology to capture particles as small as .1 micron. By comparison, a human hair’s width is approximately 50 to 70 microns, while ragweed pollen measures in at 17 microns and dust mites at 10 microns.
Typical stand-alone units use a higher-efficiency particulate Air (HEPA) filtration system, which tends to capture particles down to .3 microns in size. However, the Trane CleanEffects Air Cleaner is up to eight times more effective at capturing pollutants, pet dander, dust and mold spores than HEPA systems. And it uses a unique system that electrically charges the particles entering, so they adhere to collection cells in the filter system. Best yet, the Trane air purifier doesn’t impede the airflow of the HVAC system.
The Trane CleanEffects Air Cleaner is so good at capturing pollutants that it’s earned the Asthma and Allergy Friendly certification from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. This certification is only awarded to products that meet stringent testing and benchmark standards.
Of course, it’s important that a trained professional install and maintain the system. Seek out a Trane Comfort Specialist to get an accurate assessment of your current indoor air quality and next steps to install a Trane CleanEffects Air Cleaner.
4. Cool the Air
Beyond cleaning your air for summertime comfort, it’s important to cool it too. First, check to make sure there aren’t any air leaks around the house, sealing cracks around windows and doors and insulating attic areas where cool air can escape—or hot air can creep in. Then, consider shading the area around your outside air conditioning unit, so it remains cooler. Just remember that any flora you plant shouldn’t impede airflow around the unit.
While on the subject of shade, look at ways of shading the house, from blackout window shades in living areas, to fast-growing trees outside that diffuse light. And it goes without saying that doors and windows should be closed at all times. Also, avoid using air registers to maintain temperature control—don’t open and close them to redirect airflow in or out of rooms. Likewise, don’t adjust and readjust thermostats, as that hampers efficiency.
Perhaps the best strategy for a cooler home is investing in a high-efficiency HVAC system, like the Trane XV20i TruComfort Variable Speed system. The XV20i is one of the industry’s most efficient systems—it runs at the precise speed needed to maintain your home’s comfort level. There are no temperature swings or spikes in energy usage like those triggered by a single-stage system trying to “catch up” to a home’s cooling needs.
The XV20i’s efficiency allows components to vary operating speeds—at up to 750 stages—as temperatures outside increase or decrease, gradually moving in as little as one-tenths of 1% increments. That translates to indoor comfort at one-half of one degree within the desired thermostat setting.
And speaking of thermostats, the XV20i can take advantage of ComfortLink™ II technology to wirelessly access control via a smartphone, tablet or home computer.
Of course, people can maximize air quality by pairing the XV20i with the CleanEffects Air Cleaner—getting the ultimate in cleaning and cooling of indoor environments to beat the summertime heat.