These days we are all paying more attention to how we can avoid and prevent illness. Heading into cold and flu season is a good time to consider how improving the overall indoor air quality (IAQ) of our homes can help us stay healthy.
The common cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses with similar symptoms that can make them difficult to tell apart. The flu is generally worse, causing fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue‚ while a cold is more likely to result in a runny or stuffy nose. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), these types of respiratory infections are a main asthma trigger and can cause severe symptoms such as an asthma episode or attack.
Colds and the flu, although caused by different viruses, spread in the same way: when an ill person coughs or sneezes near you, or if you touch person or a surface with the virus and then touch your mouth nose or eyes.
As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following tips to help decrease your risk:
- Wash your hands often, for 20 seconds, with soap and water—or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay away from people who are sick.
How better indoor air quality can help during cold and flu Season
Since most of us spend about 90% of our time inside, indoor air quality also plays an important role in helping to prevent getting sick with a cold or flu virus. The key factors include:
Managing indoor relative humidity. Let’s face it: There’s nothing nicer than stepping into a cozy, warm house when it’s chilly outside. The challenge, however, is that running your furnace or heat pump also dries out the air in your home. Without getting too deep into the science, it’s easier for viruses to stay airborne longer when the indoor relative humidity is low. That problem is compounded by the fact that our biological defenses (mucous membranes) are at their strongest when relative humidity is between 30%-60%.
As a result, proper humidity levels in your home can greatly reduce the chances of contracting an airborne illness. The best way to control wintertime moisture is by monitoring humidity levels through a reliable smart thermostat such as the Trane ComfortLink® II XL1050 and managing them with a whole home humidifier.
In addition to reducing viruses, humidity helps with hydrating your skin and protecting furniture and floors. The Trane product lineup includes a wide range of solutions that tie into your home’s ductwork system, including steam humidifiers, fan-powered humidifiers, and bypass humidifiers. (For improved indoor humidity control year-round, certain geographies may require a whole home dehumidifier. Contact your Trane Dealer to learn what application is best to maintain comfort in your home.)
Keeping your air clean. While standard air filters remove common irritants like dust, pollen and pet dander, they are not fine enough to remove virus particles. If you want to accomplish that, there are two solutions that can work together to improve your home’s air.
The first is a ventilator, which circulates fresh air into your home and exhausts stale air and indoor air pollutants. Proper ventilation is particularly important for today’s tightly sealed high-efficiency homes. Trane’s inline ventilators help manage temperature and humidity, while energy recovery ventilators also improve ventilation efficiency by retaining heat and moisture from the exhaust air.
The second way to remove viruses, along with other harmful airborne particles, is a whole home electronic air cleaner. Instead of standard filters, electronic air cleaners use electrostatic collection cells to capture particles—and the unique design allows air to continue to flow freely and deliver more clean air to your home.
For example, the Trane CleanEffects® system )—which is certified as asthma and allergy friendly™ by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America—is proven to remove Influenza A and 99.98% of airborne pollutants as small as 0.3 micron, such as mold spores, allergens, bacteria, and some pollen. For comparison, that makes it eight times more effective than even the best HEPA room filters and up to 100 times more effective than a standard 1-inch filter. In addition to viruses, Trane CleanEffects® reduces the presence of potential asthma and allergy attack triggers in your home, and even decreases the need to dust. Best of all, the system can be easily cleaned and does not require any costly replacement filters.