Air purifiers make big promises when it comes to improving a home’s indoor air quality, especially for allergy suffers. The idea that a simple device can reduce dust, pollen, and other allergens is attractive, but there’s a catch: The data supporting the efficiency of air purifiers aren’t encouraging.
An air purifier might help improve your home’s indoor air quality to an extent, but it may not deliver everything the manufacturer claims on the box.
Do Air Purifiers Work for Allergies?
There is some medical research that shows air purifiers can reduce allergy and asthma symptoms. However, research shows that air purifiers are most effective in removing allergens, smoke, and mold. They are less effective against other harmful irritants like volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Additionally, air purifiers work better when paired with HVAC air filtration and regular cleaning and dusting. The portable air purifiers many families use to purify specific rooms simply lack substantial research confirming their effectiveness.
It may be more beneficial for allergy sufferers to take proactive measures to reduce irritants in the first place, including:
- Cleaning carpets, furniture, and fabric surfaces consistently, preferably with a vacuum with an integrated HEPA filter
- Washing bedding weekly in hot water
- Replacing your HVAC system filter every one to three months
- Washing pets and their bedding every month and keeping them off fabric furniture
- Replacing carpeting with hardwood flooring, if possible
- Never smoking indoors (and consider quitting to improve your overall health)
The most effective way to remove airborne irritants may be to reduce the amount present in your home through regular cleaning and addressing the causes that produce them.
How Do Air Purifiers Work?
The basic function of an air purifier is simple. A fan pulls air through a filter and circulates clean air through the room. Many factors determine just how effective an air purifier is, including:
- The volume of air the fan can pull into the filter
- The density of the filter
- The rate at which air cycles through the filter
The filters in air purifiers are made from different materials and given the same MERV ratings as your HVAC system’s air filter. The higher the MERV rating on a scale of 1-16, the more efficient the filter is at removing airborne irritants. That higher efficiency does require a stronger fan and uses more energy to power it.
Are Air Purifiers Safe?
Air purifiers that rely on a filter are regarded as safe. Some air purifiers, called bipolar ionization purifiers, require more research. These types of purifiers emit negatively charged ions that bind to and neutralize positively charged ions in the air, which carry dust and pollen. When negative and positive ions combine, they are heavy enough to fall onto surfaces, making them easier to clean and less likely to be inhaled
While effective, some models of negative ion-emitting air purifiers have been shown to emit ozone, which can have a harmful effect on your health, including lung damage. Do your research before you purchase ion-emitting devices.
The Cost of an Air Purifier
Air purifiers vary widely in upfront costs, with products on the market ranging from as little as $20 to smart air purifiers that cost hundreds of dollars. There are also additional costs associated with owning an air purifier. The first is that using an air purifier every day adds approximately $50 to your home energy bill each year though that rate can change regionally due to energy cost fluctuations. The second is that replacing filters can cost another $50 a year or more, depending on the type of air purifier you buy.
Let One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning Improve Your Air Quality
Worried about your indoor air quality at home? Take a deep breath and let the experts at One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning help. We’ll conduct an air quality test and help you identify the most effective ways to implement air filters, improve ventilation, and monitor your indoor air quality. You can count on our professional and punctual technicians to bring a wealth of information and experience to meet your HVAC needs. Call (800) 893-3523 or request your appointment today!