1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

October 9, 2008

:283 Swamp Coolers

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:283 EcoTip: Now that we are in fall its time to begin preparing for the winter season. If your home is cooled by an evaporative cooler – it is time to drain, clean and dry the unit so that it doesn’t end up becoming an unhealthy swamp (hence the name swamp cooler). After the unit is cleaned it should be protected from the weather until you are ready to use it again.

Source: EPA EnergyStar

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 Additional Information:

Evaporative Coolers

Evaporative coolers are commonly used in dry climates for cooling air. They provide inexpensive cooling by pulling outside air through damp pads. Evaporative coolers are much less expensive to operate than air conditioners, but they require regular maintenance. It is important the incoming water valve is set too high, the sump will continuously overflow and water will be wasted down the drain. A properly functioning evaporative cooler has pads that are wet, but not soaking, and little or no water should be dripping off the bottom of the pads. The pads themselves should be in good shape —not torn or overly caked with mineral deposits, and the fan motor, blades and belt should be in good condition or the cool air will never make it into the home. In addition to cleaning the unit to prepare it for the season when it won’t be used, it is important to turn off the water and drain the lines to the evaporative cooler so the lines won’t freeze and rupture.

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June 28, 2008

:180 Portable Air Filtration

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:180 EcoTip: Portable HEPA Filtration can help reduce airborne particulates. If your home is a “Well Tuned Home” as I discussed in yesterdays post, additional spot filtration can improve indoor air quality even more.

Over the next several days I will provide tips for choosing a portable purifier.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :110, :179

Yesterday I brought a portable particle counter home from work to check the airborne particle levels. This is a device that can be set to measure the quantity of different sized particles. The smoke from the California Wildfires that are burning wasn’t quite as bad as the night before, but the outdoor smoke odor was still quite pronounced. Here’s what I found when I averaged the 1 micron sized particle counts in several places:

Outdoor air – 2500 particles/cubic liter

Indoor air (most rooms) – 250 particles/cubic liter

Indoor air (supply registers) – 100 particles/cubic liter

Filtered Air (at the machine) – 1 particles/cubic liter

Indoor air (room with portable HEPA air filter) – 50 particles/cubic liter

In addition to the things I mentioned in yesterdays EcoTip (:179), we also have a 1 inch pleated MERVE 11 filter in our air conditioner (EcoTip :110). By having our home Well-Tuned and the upgraded furnace filter, the particle level inside was ten times lower than outside.

The HEPA filtration in the portable unit was filtering out almost all the particles I was measuring at the machine – which means it was working the way it is supposed to and was reducing the indoor particle level even further.

I’m unwilling to test this while the outdoor air quality is so bad, but its my guess that the most important factor in excluding the smoke has been having our home “Well Tuned”. The pleated furnace filter and the portable filter reduced it further. If the home weren’t well tuned the filtration wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Over the next several days I will be talking about other factors to consider when choosing and setting up a portable filter or purifier unit.

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April 24, 2008

:115 Clean AC Coils

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:115 EcoTip: It is time have your air conditioners cooling coils and system cleaned to prepare for a hot summer. Have it done now and your system will be ready when the hot weather hits. Dirty coils waste energy by creating greater resistance to air flow and can also be a source of poor air quality from microbial growth. Studies have shown that if you have a unit with both inside and outside coils (as shown below)- they need to be kept clean too.

 image credit: EPA

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 Additional Information

Suggested Review – :110

 Primary reasons for cooling coils become fouled are that inefficient filters are used, or are not preventing dirty by-pass air from going around the filter instead of through it.

This article by Bob Baker discusses cleaning AC coils.

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