Safe Cooling and Heating Options
As an asthma sufferer, I have to be more careful than most about air quality. Unfortunately, there are many gorgeous days outside where the air quality is still terrible and I have to keep my windows closed and remain indoors. One thing that I find particularly troubling is when I need to use my hvac unit. Our condo uses forced air, and I can change the air filter in my unit every day if I want to, but it isn’t going to clean all the ductwork that the air travels to before it gets to my filter. Have you ever seen pictures of what air ducts look like inside? I have. It’s gross. As the head of the HOA, I can spend dues money to get the vents cleaned professionally on a semi-regular basis but there isn’t much else I can do. I can’t put in window units in the summer because they are against the homeowner’s regulations (putting in window units compromises the safety and security of residents), and can only be used if the central unit that services your condo is broken, and then only until it is repaired. Maintenance usually comes and puts the units in, so they can be sure that they’ll come out as soon as the necessary repairs are made. I have ceiling fans in my unit that I can dust regularly, and I try to use those in place of the a/c whenever possible. It’s also true what they say about having indoor plants that can help with the air quality. I keep some ferns in my condo because they do not flower, which means they don’t trigger my allergy symptoms and make my asthma worse.
I have a little more flexibility in the winter. I switch my fans so that they rotate in the opposite direction, forcing warm air down from the ceiling. I also installed electric baseboard heaters in my bedroom and living room. These electric units are better as far as energy efficiency goes: I only run the units when I am in those rooms so that I am not unnecessarily heating spaces I am not using. I understand that my methods may not be practical for people in colder climates, but I guess that’s an advantage to living in California. Another benefit to using an electric heat source is that I’m not using the oil-burning furnace for as much heat. That means less pollution, which is good for asthma sufferers like me. And, as I mentioned before, if I am not using the furnace for heat, I’m not using forced air. That means no dusty air ducts negatively affecting my air quality!
I love my baseboard heaters. They were not overly complicated to install, which was fantastic for me as I am not a professional by any means. They have their own thermostats and timers so that they can go on and off without me having to touch them. They heat the two rooms fairly quickly and maintain them at a comfortable temperature effortlessly. They have non-heating surfaces and automatic shutoff features to make them safe to use. I have had them for a couple of years now and these baseboard heaters have never let me down.
I highly recommend that other asthma sufferers look into healthier heating and cooling options as part of their regimine to monitor and treat their asthma.