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CleanAir Solutions Blog

May 2018

9 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Indoor Air and Save Money

dishwasher with one cup in it

Each year, an estimated 1,300 people die prematurely due to poor air quality. Toxic air also sends approximately 3,550 people to the hospital every year.

These are troubling statistics!

Even more worrisome, recent air quality reports suggest that five airborne pollutants are responsible for increased incidence of respiratory illness, asthma, bronchitis, lung function impairment, cardiac issues, and decreased life expectancy.

These five pollutants can all be traced back to emissions from local homes and vehicles. Every year, each Canadian produces approximately five tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

While overall greenhouse gas emissions are on the decline annually, there is still a long way to go to ensure clean, safe air both outside and inside, now and for future generations. These nine easy changes can clean up your own indoor air and also save you money.

9 Easy Ways to Reduce Household Emissions

While it can easily feel like global air pollution is a bigger battle than any one individual can possibly fight, there actually are some relatively simple changes you can make to help!

These nine changes are easy to implement and will make an immediate impact on air quality.

1. Reduce your power use

It’s hard to believe that even just a hundred years ago, indoor lighting, plumbing, air conditioning, and heating were just gleams in their inventors’ eyes! Today, these modern conveniences are so commonplace we often don’t even notice our own wasteful behaviours.

But practically everyone notices when it is time to pay the bills. There are some easy ways to ensure next month’s and next year’s power bills will be lower than they are now.

In general, using less power results in less pollution. Naturally, it also saves cash. Installing motion-activated light sensors will help ensure the lights turn off when the room is empty. The same holds true for programmable thermostats, which guard against cooling or heating an empty house. These helps are affordable and easy to install, and will pay for themselves nearly instantly—and help save our planet, too!

2. Use cold water instead

In many cases, it is possible to use cold water to do many of the same things we often automatically use hot water to do. Washing clothing and dishes, and household cleaning are good examples of when cold water can often do just as good a job.

This helps you save on your hot water bill and also reduces your carbon footprint—a real win-win.

3. Give your clothes dryer a rest

In many parts of the world, it is still relatively common to see clothes and linens line drying in people’s backyards. But in the most modernized areas, the clothes dryer has all but replaced line drying.

This makes perfect sense when it’s really hot or cold out—neither is particularly good for clothing and sometimes it is just impossible to get anything dry in these temperature extremes. But in temperate weather like what we have here in Canada in the spring and fall, line drying is a great way to cut your energy bill and reduce emissions in general but also into your indoor air. Dryer vents, like duct vents, unless cleaned, can release built up toxins into your home.

4. Close air registers and vents in unused rooms

Why pay to heat and cool parts of your home or office that you aren’t even using? Unless you store perishables in those areas, it can make more sense to just close off the air registers and vents in those places and concentrate your heating and cooling on the areas that are in use.

5. Keep your refrigerator coils clean

Like indoor air ducts, refrigerator coils are incredibly easy to forget about! We can’t see them so we don’t realize they are getting dirty and toxic and affecting us as they do.

You can take a brush or a vacuum hose attachment to your fridge coils and remove the built-up dust and debris, increasing cooling efficiency and removing particulate matter from your indoor air supply all in one fell swoop.

6. Fill up your dishwasher for every cycle

Dishwashers can be incredibly demanding energy-wise. This especially holds true if you run your dishwasher when it isn’t completely full.

Just as your refrigerator and your clothes washer operate more effectively and efficiently when they are full, so too will your dishwasher serve you better when you wait until you have a full load (if you need to, you can always run a rinse-only cycle with cool water to keep dishes from accumulating hardened debris between cycles).

7. Power down unused electronics

Another really easy power drain to forget about is electronics. Your home entertainment system, docking stations, computers and tablets, and Wi-Fi accessories can all benefit from being able to cool down when you power them off for a while.

And you will win as well with lower energy bills and less risk of damage from power surges.

8. Keep your fireplace damper and wood stove doors closed between uses

Wood stoves and fireplaces sure are cheery, but they aren’t very eco-friendly. The more you can contain emissions from each by closing off exit points between uses, the less you risk toxins leaking out.

9. Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs

Energy-efficient light bulbs are one of the true unsung heroes of the energy efficiency movement. The next time your bulbs need replacing, have some energy-efficient bulbs on hand to make the switch!

Give Us a Call

Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we have the privilege of helping our residential and commercial clients improve their indoor air quality every single day!

Right now and through May 31, 2018, you can save 10 percent on any of our indoor air duct cleaning packages.

We regularly consult on indoor air quality for new construction, residential, and commercial renovation and remediation. Contact us online, or give us a call at 905-544-2470 for more information!

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Are you Struggling with Household Soot, Dust & Smoke? We Can Fix That!

dust on finger

It is true that Canada has a lot to be proud of in terms of our efforts to clean up and safeguard the environment.

According to the World Economic Forum, Canada comes in second place on the planet with an amazing 115 cities cited for clean air!

But that is our outside air. Inside our homes and workplaces, it can be a very different story.

One of the biggest air quality threats is simple soot. Smoke, smudgy streaks and stains, black or grey dust, and similar issues abound in our indoor spaces today.

While it is easy to overlook these types of small discolourations and marks, it isn’t advisable. These marks represent potent carcinogens that can build up in your indoor air over time and cause respiratory damage and cancer.

In this article, we take a close look at household soot, dust and smoke and tell you how to fix it.

Where Is All That Soot Coming From?

There are a handful of major factors that contribute to household soot, dust, and smoke.

Some you might already be well aware of, such as the use of heating boilers, fireplaces and stoves, and smoking or vaping inside,, idling vehicles, home construction and renovation projects, and various combustion sources.

But some identified sources, such as burning candles, might seem too innocuous to even register on your household air quality safety radar.

Yet burning candles inside the home is no small indoor air quality threat. Did you know that use of candles inside homes is sufficiently significant that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) actually commissioned a research survey to study the impact of candle soot and smoke on homes?

This study was small—just five houses were surveyed—and the focus was more on soot and smoke cleanup options than on air quality improvement itself, but the information generated shows that burning even a small candle regularly can create significant dust, smoke, and soot buildup over time!

When you add in the other common contributors for indoor smoke, dust, and soot mentioned in the same survey, it becomes clear that it doesn’t take long for your indoor surfaces and furnishings to become impacted by a fine build-up of toxic materials on walls, floors, window panes and sills, carpeting, filter pads, air registers and exhaust vents, cabinetry and appliances, and even inside storage areas.

What Are You Breathing In?

With the presence of soot, dust, and smoke inside your home, the obvious question then becomes: What kinds of toxins are you breathing in?

Each of these contributes to the visible presence of dust, smoke, and soot in your home:

  • Nicotine

  • Lead

  • Benzene

  • Toluene

  • Mould and mildew

  • Wood ash and smoke residue

  • Carbon black (soot)

  • Elemental carbon (diesel)

  • Nitrogen oxides

  • Petroleum and paraffin by-products

  • Many more!

In addition to visible carcinogens like those listed here, other invisible toxins (commonly called volatile organic compounds or VOCs) are produced wherever combustion takes place, whether from a single burning candle or an idling car motor, such as:

  • Carbon monoxide

  • Acetone

  • Chemicals from artificial fragrance

  • Perchloroethylene (dry cleaning chemical)

  • Propane

  • Butane

  • Methyl chloride

  • Formaldehyde

  • Many more!

These lists represent just a handful of the toxins generated by the proliferation of combustion processes we rely on for just about every modern convenience, from air conditioning and heating to cooking and hot water to vehicle use and dry cleaning services. It can be hard to resolve our need for these conveniences against our human right to breathe clean, healthy air!

Luckily, there is a way to have our modern conveniences and healthy lungs, too.

Assessing Your Indoor Space for Toxins

While we are always happy to come out and perform a professional indoor air quality test to determine precisely which toxins and carcinogens are present in your indoor air supply, sometimes all that is really needed to do this is to take a good look around.

What appliances do you use regularly? Do you use commercial (chemical) home cleaning products? Are there any smokers or tobacco users in your family? Do you burn wood in the stove or fireplace or light candles for ambiance?

What about spritzing on perfumes or using air freshening products? Have you used DIY adhesives, glues, paints, varnishes, or solvents in and around your home for maintenance or renovation? What kind of HVAC system do you have?

These small daily observations can add up to an unhealthy picture of what might be floating around in your indoor air supply and going in and out of your lungs up to 30,000 times per day as you breathe.

Indoor Air Duct Cleaning, Air Filtration, and Purification

So let’s take a look now at how to clean up your indoor air.

1. Indoor air duct cleaning

If you have a ducted (forced air) HVAC system, your air ducts may be harboring a wide variety of trapped toxins. A professional cleaning is economical and quick—we can be in and out in less than a day and leave behind air ducts that are literally as clean and sanitary as the day they were installed.

2. UV air purification

Ultraviolet light is the best of the best at purifying the air of toxins—after all, it is what our own sun uses to keep up with all the toxins we create!

3. HEPA filtration

The High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration system is the reigning gold standard in air filtration and has been since World War II. This system can filter out particles the size of 1/100th of a single human hair, keeping your indoor air clean and pure.

Get in Touch

Until May 31, save 10 percent on all indoor air duct cleaning packages as a part of our spring indoor air quality specials!

Save 20 percent on all indoor air quality aids, including HEPA filtration, UV air purification, and heat recovery ventilation systems!

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470 to learn more and claim these valuable limited-time discounts.

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Indoor Air Quality Tips for Your Seasonal Cottage

summer cottage

Happily, we are now launching into May, which here in Canada is unofficially known as “cottage reopening season.”

So many individuals and families keep seasonal homes in pretty rural areas—the better to enjoy even a small part of Canada’s rich and vast natural beauty!

But there is nothing fun about arriving at your seasonal cottage in anticipation of a fun vacation only to be laid low right away by seasonal allergies, mould, mildew, dust, and other common allergens.

Unfortunately, this is all too common as both outdoor and indoor air quality worsens across the globe. Luckily, here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we have both the expertise and the resources to help you enjoy cottage season with minimal interference from airborne toxins.

Read on for our favorite timely tips and learn how to stabilize and purify your indoor air at your seasonal residence.

Special Air Quality Challenges for Seasonal Cottages

It’s true that there is no solution to the spring pollen floating around outside. Whether you’re in a densely populated urban area or an isolated rural situation, there is plenty of pollen being made and released right now!

However, pollen on its own is just part of the challenge that your immune and respiratory systems face when you head to your seasonal cottage.

For example, when you’re reopening your cottage, you may use commercial cleaning products to tidy up after a long winter away. You might then light up some incense or a candle or use air fresheners to freshen and scent the stale air. After you’re finished with all your cottage reopening chores, you probably jump in the shower or tub and use a selection of personal care products to clean up after all that work.

And at night, as a part of your natural cottage experience, you may decide to cook on a woodstove or gather around your fireplace on chilly evenings.

While it is still far from common knowledge at this point, these types of indoor activities can actually release a concentration of airborne toxins that far exceeds anything nature can generate. The cumulative effect is that indoor air that is up to five times more polluted than any smog you might find outdoors.

Indoor Air Quality Aids That Really Work to Keep You Healthier

As more information is released about how toxic our indoor air is becoming, there is more public demand for protective indoor air quality aids to clean and purify the air in our homes and cottages.

Since you want to stay healthy when you’re off work and vacationing with family and friends in nature, these indoor air quality aids can be especially appreciated at your seasonal cottage.

While it is good news that there are efficient ways to clean your indoor air, it is even better news that the majority of today’s indoor air quality aids are also quite affordable and low maintenance!

The specific indoor air quality equipment you choose will depend on the type of air conditioning and heating system in your seasonal cottage.

There are two basic types: ducted and non-ducted.

Ducted indoor air quality solutions

For ducted systems, we always recommend retrofitting your HVAC system with a heat recovery ventilator.

This highly efficient, effective unit works with any type of HVAC system to separate incoming fresh air from outgoing stale air and keep indoor humidity levels balanced (which also means no mould or mildew).

We also recommend either a HEPA air filtration system or a UV air purification system. Either system can be installed to work with any type of HVAC system and either will work beautifully to keep your indoor air toxin-free.

The HEPA filtration system filters out minute airborne toxins from your indoor air.

The UV air purification system neutralizes these same airborne toxins with the help of UV-C, the most potent form of ultraviolet light.

The system you choose often boils down to personal preference, as either approach offers an efficient, effective, low-maintenance and long-lasting way to clean and detoxify your indoor air.

Non-ducted indoor air quality solutions

For non-ducted systems, we recommend a portable version of either a HEPA air filtration system or a UV air purification system.

These are portable versions that can work to filter or purify the air in smaller spaces that don’t have any existing duct work.

Schedule a Professional Indoor Air Duct Cleaning

Indoor air duct cleaning is becoming more common and popular in homes and businesses today. But it is still relatively rare among seasonal cottage owners.

However, if your seasonal residence has a ducted system, it is highly likely your air ducts are harboring a wide variety of trapped toxins, especially as local critters and insects find their way inside to escape winter weather!

The beauty of a professional indoor air duct cleaning is that it takes less than half a day to complete from start to finish and it leaves your indoor air ducts squeaky clean, sanitized and essentially brand-new! Many clients tell us they can actually smell the difference after an air duct cleaning—that is how clean their indoor air becomes!

Get in Touch

Until May 31, save 10 percent on all indoor air duct cleaning packages as a part of our spring indoor air quality specials!

Save 20 percent on all indoor air quality aids, including HEPA filtration, UV air purification, and heat recovery ventilation systems!

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470 to learn more and claim these valuable limited-time discounts.

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