Running the AC and changing filters will help you fight allergies and asthma symptoms caused by pollen.
Here in Texas, a mild winter is often considered a perk that balances out our hot summers, but this year’s warmer than average winter is having an uncomfortable side effect according to this article in the Houston Chronicle. The Chronicle reports that allergies and allergy related asthma symptoms are on the rise as Texas trees like oak, elm and ash enjoy a longer pollinating season. This naturally occurring irritant bothers many of us with itchy eyes, runny noses and coughing. Even for those with less dramatic allergy symptoms, the pollen can trigger immune responses that often leave our bodies more susceptible to common viruses like the cold (at least that seems to have happened last week at Champion Energy’s offices). Now, you may be wondering why Champion Energy is writing about allergies, asthma and pollen in the first place. Well the answer is pretty simple. Some of the most commonly recommended ways to make your home a healthy haven from pollen (like replacing air filters and using HEPA air purifiers) also affect your electricity bill.
Tips for pollen proofing your home.
- Limit your time outside when pollen counts are highest (early morning and late afternoon).
- Use a HEPA air filtration system in your bedroom.
- Vacuum, dust and mop often.
- Run the central air conditioner often and change your HVAC filters more frequently.
Reviewing this list of tips you’ll notice right away that all of them require you to spend more time indoors and to use more energy. Let’s review these tips one at a time and consider ways to protect your health and also protect your wallet.
Limit your time outside when pollen counts are highest (early morning and late afternoon).
The good news is that you can offload much of your home energy expenses during the spring by extending your day away from home. Check for free before and after school programs for your children such as extra art or music lessons, or additional study time for those looming standardized tests. A play date or study session at a friend’s house after school is another way to keep your kids away from the pollen without increasing electricity consumption at home. For you, consider taking advantage of that gym membership you bought in a fit of ambition in January, or impress your boss with longer hours a few days a week.
Use a HEPA air filtration system in your bedroom.
A HEPA filter in your bedroom will capture pollen and keep it out of the air you breathe, but, according to the EPA, a standard room air purifier, operating continuously, uses approximately 550kWh per year in electricity. Even at Champion Energy’s low electric rates, that is a cost of over $50 per year in energy costs. The good news is, you can use the Energy Star website to find a HEPA purifier that is up to 40% more efficient.
Vacuum, dust and mop often.
If you experience serious allergies or asthma, then you may have already been given the advice to replace your carpet with tile or hardwood floors. While that doesn’t save you any effort or cost in the short run, sweeping and mopping use less electricity than vacuuming.
Run the central air conditioner often and change your HVAC filters more frequently.
Running your air conditioner helps capture pollutants from the air, but this effort only helps if you have an air filter that will catch air borne irritants and keep them from being re-circulated into your home. Look for filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV rating) over 9 to achieve better filtration, but be cautious about choosing a filter with a MERV rating higher than 12, because this level of filtration may actually hinder the efficiency of many home air conditioning systems. Consult an HVAC specialist for a recommendation optimized for your home’s HVAC system. Champion Energy also recommends that you change your air filters often, because a filter clogged with captured particles and allergens like pollen will also reduce your home’s energy efficiency.
For additional money saving tips to keep your home energy efficient this spring, you can also read our article on Spring Energy Efficiency Tips, or consider switching to an affordable electricity plan, with exceptional customer service, from Champion Energy.