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Controlling Allergens in Your Home

Spring has sprung, and it is always an unfortunate time of year for allergy suffers who have to bear the deluge of runny noses, watery eyes and itchy skin. While there are many ways to alleviate outdoor allergy symptoms, one of the easiest is to seek relief indoors. Unfortunately, for many, indoor allergies are just as prolific. If you think your home may be the cause of some of your allergy symptoms, it’s time to get take a look at how your home contributes to the cycle of allergy attacks.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, around 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Allergies are also the 6th most prominent cause of chronic illness in the U.S. While rhinitis (hay fever) may only be a seasonal annoyance for some, for others, air quality control is serious business year-round. This is especially true for the 17 million adults and 7 million children who are affected by asthma.

Here in Arizona, air conditioning is critical, and with temperatures outside reaching the 90s so early in the year, everyone is more inclined to spend as much time indoors as possible. Stepping indoors to beat the heat and the allergens is only effective if the air that you are breathing is clean and free of those outdoor pollutants. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the air indoors is as clean as it needs to be for symptom relief.

Start with Your Air Filters

Your home’s air filtration plays a critical role in your health. While modern air conditioning units are equipped with filters that are capable of removing most outdoor allergens like pollen and ragweed, not all filters are created equal. Some filters, like electrostatic filters, add an additional layer of protection from smaller particles that bypass standard filtration methods. For some allergy sufferers with more severe symptoms, adding electrostatic filters are not enough to control the flow of allergens. Fitting additional filters to the vent outlets in individual rooms may serve as an added layer of protection against allergens.

Regardless of which filter solutions are right for your home, the most important thing to remember about your home’s filtration is that filters need to be changed as frequently as is recommended by your home’s air conditioning and heating service technician. This will usually be done three times a year with normal systems.

By adding small, portable units like HEPA filters in sensitive rooms, you can decrease the occurrence of allergy and asthma attacks. Some central air units offer HEPA filters at varying points around the home’s system. It should be noted that HEPA filters are not designed to filter pet dander, which can be equally responsible for indoor allergies.

Check for Signs and Symptoms of Mold Allergies

If your allergies tend to kick in when it’s humid or raining out, there’s a chance that you may be suffering from a mold allergy. Mold spores are the primary culprit in mold allergies. Born in wet and damp spaces both inside and outside of the home, mold spores are airborne and enter your body through inhalation. As mold grows consistently, most people with mold allergies suffer the whole year through.

If multiple people in your home are suffering from the same types of allergy symptoms year-round, there is a chance that mold is the offender. Symptoms for mold allergies are similar to other seasonal allergy symptoms and include sneezing, congestion, watery eyes and coughing. These symptoms can often be mistaken for sinus infections, so consulting your doctor is important to get a proper diagnosis. If you are unsure of the source of mold in your home, be sure to check under carpets, anywhere that may have had water damage, inside of bathrooms, and on windowsills. If a mold allergy is confirmed, but no source has been found, you may want to consider having your air ducts checked for mold and mildew.

Moisture control in the home is critical to keeping mold from developing and spreading throughout the house. Ideally, the humidity in your home will be anywhere from 35% to 50%. Air conditioning and individual dehumidifiers can help reduce the amount of moisture if your home struggles to maintain proper humidity levels.

Keep the Dust Mites Under Control

One of the biggest allergy triggers in the home is the microscopic dust mite. Dust mites secrete proteins which trigger an immune system response in some people. If you wake up in the morning with a runny nose, watery eyes, and congestion, you may have a dust mite allergy.

Though it may seem like you never stop dusting, this is not always the best way to get rid of dust mites. While your knick-knacks may be spotless, dust mites are happy to live on carpets, in mattresses, and even on clothing. Dust mites thrive in humid conditions, and unfortunately, your bed is the perfect environment for dust mites to thrive. Your bed is also the best restaurant in town for dust mites, as they feed on miniscule flecks of skin that humans shed all day and night.

The best way to keep dust mite populations and allergens down is to cover both your mattress and your pillows with protective allergy bedding. Be sure to wash bedding frequently and vacuum your mattress often as well. Vacuuming carpets regularly will also keep the dust mites in your carpet from wreaking havoc on your immune system.

A HEPA filter can also be a key component in controlling dust mite allergens. By adding one to your home or bedroom, you can significantly decrease the instances and severity of allergy attacks from dust mites. Even the vacuum that you use should have a HEPA filter installed so that you do not release dust mites back into the environment through the exhaust.

If you are suffering from allergies, it is important not to dismiss them as harmless or something that you simply must live with. Allergies have a tremendous impact on your daily life and can negatively affect your family’s long-term health. By taking steps to protect your home from unwanted allergens, your home’s air quality will be improved and your nose will thank you for it.

For questions or to set up an appointment with a specialist, call BreezeWays Air Conditioning and Heating at 520-999-2620 or email us at support@breezewaysac.com.

Is Your Home’s Temperature Affecting Your Sleep?

With Tucson summers reaching over 100 degrees outside, indoor temperature control is critical. While most people opt for daytime air conditioning relief, they shy away from staying cool at night. Scientists have studied the correlation between temperature and a sleep, and the resulting data points to one clear fact: the temperature of your bedroom affects both the quality and duration of sleep. If you suffer from insomnia or other sleep issues that keep you from getting a good night’s rest, you may want to consider adjusting the temperature of your home after the sun goes down.

It usually begins with a foot jutting out from under the covers, soon to be followed by a leg or two. Before you know it, you’ve thrown your blanket off entirely. These nighttime activities, while often forgotten before you wake up, are indicators that the temperature of your bedroom is keeping you awake at night.

Studies have shown that idyllic sleep patterns for maximum rest can be achieved by maintaining sleeping temperatures that are slightly colder than you may think. Not only are you more likely to stay asleep longer, you will probably have little-to-no difficulty falling asleep when you head off to bed.

While it seems counterintuitive to make your home an uncomfortable temperature at night, there are a few things you should know about body temperature regulation:

1. Your body works to regulate two temperatures: your “shell” or skin temperature, and your core temperature

2. Your body does its best to maintain optimal temperatures on its own, and your core temperature is often in contrast with your skin.

3. Scientific research has found that even if the skin temperature was hot or cold, as long as the core temperature remained in the “ideal” range, test subjects reported sleeping soundly.

4. Your body’s internal clock, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm, is responsible for keeping your body temperature up during the day and cooling it off at night. One of the ways that the body conserves energy at night is by lowering your core temperature one to two degrees.

5. Your body temperature decreases in increments throughout the night, usually from 11 pm to 7 am. The average adult’s lowest body temperature is around 5 a.m.

6. You neither sweat nor shiver during natural REM sleep.

65 degrees is considered optimal for a good night’s sleep, though that level of comfort will vary from person to person. A good rule of thumb for nighttime temperature is to set your thermostat anywhere from 65 to 68 degrees. Drifting off in this temperature range allows your body to be, “thermally neutral,” meaning that it won’t have to work overtime to generate heat or cool the body down.

Don’t adjust that thermostat low enough to see your breath just yet, though. Keeping your bedroom too cold could be just as disruptive to sleep cycles. Be sure to minimize discomfort by trying varied temperatures and noting how you slept each morning.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, you should “think of your bedroom as a cave: It should be cool, quiet, and dark.”

Additional Considerations for Finding Your Perfect Sleep Temperature:

1. If you share a bedroom with someone, it is important to find a median temperature that allows both of you to sleep well.

2. Some pillows, like memory foam, can retain heat and add to nighttime temperature discomfort.

3. Keep windows and curtains closed during the summer months to preserve cooler nighttime temperatures.

4. Exercising right before bed causes your body’s core temperature to rise, which can throw off your circadian clock and lead a delay in falling asleep.

5. Consider adding a programmable thermostat to regulate air conditioning overnight to ensure maximum comfort while sleeping.

6. Your thermostat may not be in the right place to manage your bedroom temperatures. Your bedroom may be in a completely different part of your home from your thermostat, which are often found in cool hallways or by entrances which tend to be breezy.

Consider having your thermostat moved to a location where it can get more accurate readings of bedrooms.

HVAC Services Tucson | Breezeways Air Conditioning & Heating