Categories > Indoor Air Quality

Understanding MERV Ratings

As spring approaches, your air filter can make a big difference in your indoor air quality in your home. We recommend changing your furnace filter every 3 months (it’s that time again!), but how do you choose the best filter for your HVAC system? And what are filter MERV ratings anyways? Let us help you better understand how filters are rated and how you can choose the best filter for your home.

MERV is an abbreviation for Minimum Effective Reporting Value. Simply put, your filter’s MERV rating tells you, on a scale of 1-16 how effective your filter will trap small particles. In regards to filters, the higher the MERV rating, the fewer dust particles and other contaminants can pass through it. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) designed the MERV scale to represent a filter’s worst possible performance at removing particles .3 to 10 microns in size (that’s really small!).

MERV ratings are divided into three categories – low-efficiency, medium-efficiency, and high-efficiency. Medium-efficiency MERV ratings of approximately 8 to 11 (as shown below) are adequate at removing airborne dust and contaminants in a residential space. High-efficiency filters (MERV 14-16) are typically reserved for hospitals, restaurants, and other public facilities. MERV 14 and higher filters are efficient but are large and bulky but they’re perfect for people who are prone to illness and need the cleanest most sterile environment possible. They aren’t normally recommended for residential use since they can restrict airflow. Filters with MERV ratings between 6-8 are the cheapest ones and are considered the bare minimum of efficiency. These basic filters would only be adequate for catching large portions of airborne particles and for homes without furry pets.

MERV Ratings Chart

According to studies, Canadians spend about 21 – 24 hours a day indoors, on average. With indoor concentrations of some pollutants often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor pollutants, your indoor air quality is very important to the health of your family. However, with proper air filtration and ventilation, you won’t be circulating all of those contaminants that can make your family sick. We don’t realize how many allergens and contaminants we’re breathing when we are indoors. Although it may seem easier and healthier to breathe inside, our indoor environments can contain pollutant levels many times greater than the levels outside. It seems counter-intuitive. You may be thinking – shouldn’t the outdoor air be dirtier? I keep my home clean! The answer is insufficient ventilation increased us of synthetic materials, and lack of filtration – and that’s where your furnace filter becomes your best defence against pollutants indoors. Installing the correct MERV rated filter can help you eliminate harmful contaminants from your home.

Another effective way to improve your indoor air quality is to install a HomeShield™ UV Purification System on your existing HVAC system. With both of these tools, you can breathe easier and cleaner in your home.

It's time to change your filter!

How long has it been since you last changed your filter? If you replaced your filter as per our recommendation in January, it’s time to do it again! Replacing your filter not only improves your indoor air quality, but it can also improve your heating and cooling system’s airflow and efficiency. This can help lower your utility bill and extend the life of your equipment.

Call us today and let us equip your home with the proper MERV rated furnace filter that can improve your home’s air quality. Regular filter replacements are a simple but effective way to reduce allergens and debris in your home. We stock many popular sizes of filters at affordable prices. Call Ignite Heating and Air Conditioning Ltd. at (780) 919-4916 or contact us anytime online. At Ignite, your comfort is our concern.

UV Light Improves Indoor Air Quality

For years hospitals have used ultraviolet (UV) lights on large, industrial-grade machines to decontaminate rooms. Currently, they are sending robots armed with UV lights into hospital rooms to neutralize and remove dangerous airborne pathogens. But did you know that versions of those same UV sanitation lights are available to consumers as well? The HomeShield UV Purification System can be a life-saving addition to your home’s HVAC system that can remove indoor contaminants. Installing this medically-grade, cost-effective UV light to your current HVAC system can emit germicidal radiation into the surrounding air and keep your home free of dust particles, mold spores, animal hair, dander, pollen, dust mites, viruses and bacteria. The HomeShield UV Purification System is an effective method of purifying your indoor air quality so you can breathe easy and reduce the effects of seasonal allergies and other health issues and ensure healthier air in your home.

Ultraviolet light (UV) is part of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, which is organized based on wavelength and frequencies. The frequency of UV wavelengths ranges from 180 nanometers (nm) to 400 nm, falling between visible light and X-rays on the EM spectrum. About 10% of the light from the sun is UV light. The UV spectrum is divided into three categories: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA has the longest wavelengths (315-400 nm) and UVC has the shortest (180-200 nm).

The lights used in the HomeShield™ UV Purification System work on the UVC spectrum. UVC radiation can break chemical bonds in a process called photoionization in which electrons separate from atoms. This process results in a dissociation of matter into electrically charged particles and can kill airborne viruses without harming humans. In a recent study published in Scientific Reports it suggests that the use of UVC lights in hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, airports, airplanes, and other public spaces could help control the spread of airborne-mediated microbial diseases. Now this cutting-edge technology is available to you the homeowner as a way to help diminish the spread of those same infectious diseases in your home.

clean air, using UV light technology

The HomeShield™ Ultraviolet Light Air Purification System is able to physically alter microorganisms through sterilization, stopping the spread and propagation as it intercepts the airborne pathogens that may travel through your home’s HVAC system. These microorganisms cannot reproduce when properly exposed to UV light and this powerful solution will dramatically improve your home’s indoor air quality. This is a chemical-free way to disinfect your home’s air and is a safe, proactive, and cost-effective method of ensuring greater health for your family.

At Ignite we can help you improve your indoor air quality with UV light air purification. Especially during this time when we are all spending more time indoors, we want to protect your home from harmful microbial contaminants. Installing a UVC light purification system is a safe and effective solution to maintaining and achieving improved air quality in your home. A Homeshield™ Ultraviolet Light Air Purification System has install option flexibility and can integrate into new or existing HVAC systems.

Call us today for a free quote to get the HomeShield™ Ultraviolet Light Air Purification System installed in your home. HomeSheild is a safe, proactive and cost-effective choice in improving ones health. Stop the spread of microscopic airborne pathogens and sterilize the air in your home with a medical grade ultra violet light system just like hospitals use. Call Ignite Heating and Air Conditioning Ltd. at (780) 919-4916 or contact us anytime online. At Ignite, your comfort (and health!) is our concern.

Furnace Filter…It’s That Time Again!

At Ignite Heating we recommend changing your furnace filter every 3 months. So if you’re following us on social media or this blog – you know what time it is…time for a new furnace filter!

How long has it been since you last changed your filter? If you replaced your filter when we did, it’s time to do it again! Replacing your filter on a regular schedule will keep your furnace working at it’s optimal performance. A clean air filter not only improves your indoor air quality, but it can also improve your heating and cooling system’s airflow and efficiency. This can help lower your utility bill and extend the life of your equipment.

If you live in a home with allergy sufferers, pets and/or smokers, you should probably change your filter even more frequently. Did you know that dirty air in your home can cause harm to your brain and stress your body? Don’t let a dirty furnace filter harm your indoor air quality – change your filter often, and breathe in fresh, clean air all year round.

furnace filter before after
It’s easy to see the difference between a used filter and a new one!

If you don’t change your filter regularly, there can be build-up of dirt and dust in your entire HVAC system. Regularly replacing your filter can save you from a costly furnace repair down the road. Help extend the lifetime of your HVAC system by replacing your filter regularly.

The most typical sizes for a furnace filters are 16″ x 20″, 20″ x 25″ and 16″ x 25″ however many other sizes are available for purchase from Ignite Heating. If you are unsure of what size you require, give us a call and we can help you determine the best filter for your needs. We sell most sizes of high quality filters at very affordable rates!

For any questions you may have about furnace filters or servicing your home’s HVAC system, call the expert professionals at Ignite Heating @ 780-919-4916 today or contact us. We’d be happy to answer your questions.

The Benefits of Humidity

The cozy warmth of your home is an essential requirement when you live in the cold Alberta climate. However, by continually recycling the air in your home you can lose necessary humidity which can lead to a wide range of problems. Forced-air central heating systems reheat the air in your home and recirculate the same air multiple times throughout the day. Typically, this causes the air in your home to become dry and this can be both uncomfortable and unhealthy. This becomes more obvious in the winter months due to your heating system having to run more often. As moisture helps to prevent the movement of germs, a whole-home humidifier can help keep your air clean and therefore better your health. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of having the proper level of humidity in your home.

Installing a furnace humidifier or investing in a whole-house humidifier will allow you to breathe easily once again and make your home’s air more comfortable. Once your home is brought to the ideal moisture level, you will notice a significant improvement in the comfort of your living space. If you notice that you are experiencing irritated eyes, a dry nose, skin and/or throat, or suffer from indoor allergies, you may benefit from adding more humidity to your home. If your home’s humidity level is low, the air will draw humidity from wood, plants and your skin. This can lead to dry skin and a cold feeling because sweat is evaporating off your skin and causes you to feel cold. Allergy sufferers often notice that even a short period of time spent in excessively dry air can exacerbate their symptoms. Indoor air that is too dry can cause irritated nasal membranes and even sinus headaches, leading to discomfort. Furthermore, if you or anyone in your family suffers from asthma, excessively dry air can trigger an attack.

Beyond eliminating dry skin and sinus discomfort, a whole-home humidifier can significantly reduce static electricity in your home. In addition, maintaining proper moisture levels will also help protect wood surfaces by preventing peeling or cracking. As an added bonus, by investing in a whole-home humidifier to maintain the correct humidity levels in your home you will actually feel warmer, even if the thermostat is set at the same temperature as normal. With the warmer feeling of the air, thermostats can be lowered, thus conserving energy and saving you money on your heating bills. Want to try this out? Put the palm of your hand near your mouth and lightly blow air against your hand. It feels cool, correct? But why, when your body temperature is 98.6°F does your breath not feel warm? It’s because as the water evaporates off your skin it feel cold! This is the same approach taken as when you raise the humidity of the air in your home – your home can actually feel warmer, without having to raise your thermostat – one of the key benefits of humidity.

Indoor plants will benefit from an increase in humidity.
Image by Marce Garal from Pixabay

If you have a green thumb, your indoor plants will also benefit from an increase in humidity. Plants such as aloe vera or Gerber daisies are natural air purifiers but only if they are getting the moisture they need. A whole-home humidifier will allow your houseplants to thrive during the Canadian winter, thereby positively impacting your indoor air quality. 

While portable humidifiers are common, they provide only localized relief. Unless you move the unit around from room to room or have multiple humidifiers in your home, you will not benefit from the extra humidity they can provide. Whole-house humidifiers offer numerous benefits including creating comfort throughout the whole home, not just in a few select rooms. Also they operate much more quietly than portable appliances, which is a bonus.

If you’ve noticed that your home is quite dry lately, especially since your furnace is running more often during these cold winter months in Alberta, a humidifier may be the perfect solution. By raising the humidity level in your home you can actually feel warmer, be more healthy and comfortable, all while saving money on your heating costs – all of which are great benefits of humidity!

Contact Ignite Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd. today to find out more about improving your indoor air quality with a whole-home humidifier. Call (780) 919-4916 today. Your comfort is our concern!

4 steps to take to improve your indoor air quality

Indoor air quality is the air quality within and around buildings and structures. It is known to affect the health, comfort and well-being of building occupants. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to Sick Building Syndrome, reduced productivity and impaired learning in schools. Many people with allergies stay indoors when outdoor air is full of pollen and spores, however, the air inside your home can be up to FIVE times more polluted than the air outside. Our indoor air quality is important to human health because we spend over 80% of our time indoors. In fact, during the spring, when environmental triggers are at their highest, the effects on everyone’s health can be compounded by poor indoor air quality. People with asthma, allergies or lung disease can be greatly affected by poor indoor air quality and poor indoor air quality can affect the development in children and has been linked to lung disease later in life.

If you are suffering from the health effects of air pollution, your symptoms can include: tiredness, headache or dizziness, coughing and sneezing, wheezing or difficulty breathing, more mucous in the nose or throat, or dry or irritated eyes, nose, throat and skin. You may notice these symptoms after a few minutes or hours and then feel better after leaving the affected area. This may be more noticeable if you have not spent much time in affected areas. For example, you may notice a difference after a vacation.

It’s important to follow-up with your doctor if you’re noticing a pattern or have health concerns, but in the meantime here are four steps you can take as a homeowner to improve the air quality of your home.

1. Clean it Up
The most effective way to reduce your indoor air pollution is to spend some time to remove or reduce the problem at the source.

  • Regularly clean the surfaces of your home
  • Remove mold at the source by yourself (if it’s a small amount) or contacting a contractor if it’s a large amount.
  • Make your home smoke-free
  • Avoid idling your vehicles or gas-powered yard equipment in your garage
  • Avoid the use of heavily scented products in your home
  • Take care when decorating as most products these days contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that release odours and pollutants into the air around them. Choose low-VOCs products whenever possible and ensure there is adequate ventilation during a renovation project.

2. Better Ventilation

Check that your home has adequate air circulation and heat flow. Ensure your bathroom fans, kitchen fans and dryer vents are are all vented to the outside and not the attic or back inside the house.

Tight insulation, too much humidity and other factors can lead to unhealthy air in your home or workplace, causing a number of heath problems. One way to mitigate this is to use a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) to bring in a continuous supply of fresh, filtered air into your home while expelling stale air. An HRV also saves you money by warming or cooling the air coming into your home, depending on the season.

At Ignite we can help you with improving your ventilation by assisting with ductwork modifications and/or installing an HRV to improve the quality of the air inside your home.

3. Filter the Air

Ensure the air circulating through your home is clean by changing your filter on a regular basis. Your filter traps the unwanted dirt and dust particles we unknowingly produce and prevents them from recirculating through your home. Mold spores, pet dander, cooking odors, dust, dust mites and their by-products are all factors that can be captured and reduced with your furnace filter.

Household furnace filters have different ratings based on how dense the filter fabric is. Ratings are called MERV, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV rating is a scale of 1-16, with 1 being the least dense and 16 being the densest. This scale refers to the size of the particles you are trying to trap. A filter rated between MERV 6 and 11 can handle pretty much everything in a typical household and should be just right to maintain your indoor air quality and air circulation. If you have environmental allergies or are immunocompromised you want something with a MERV rating of 11 or higher (barring that your furnace can handle the restricted air flow.)

At Ignite we can supply you with furnace filters that allow for adequate air flow while capturing those unwanted dirt and dust particles circulating in your home. If allergies or other health issues are a concern for you, we can work with you to assess if your furnace can handle a filter with a higher MERV rating and provide any required enhancements to keep your system performing safely and efficiently.

4. Purify the Air

Ensure the air circulating through your home is disinfected from harmful microorganisms by installing a HomeShield Ultraviolet Light Purification system. This is a chemical-free method of purification that is installed into the ductwork of your HVAC system and it sterilizes the air by stopping the spread and growth of harmful viruses, molds, pet dander, bacteria and allergens from passing through your HVAC system into your home. HomeShield can help you breath easy and reduce the effects of season allergies and other heath issues.

At Ignite we can help you to have a home that is free of pollutants, microbes, allergens by installing your HomeShield Ultraviolet Light Purification system.

We love to work with homeowners to ensure their indoor air quality is the the best it can be. If you’ve identified some deficiencies in steps you need to take to improve your indoor air quality, give us a call @ 780.919.4916 to book a free quote and discuss the options available to you.

sources: Health Canada and the Canadian Lung Association

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