1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

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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June 27, 2008

:179 Well-Tuned Home

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

1:5:10:179 EcoTip: The well-tuned home can help exclude elevated levels of outdoor contaminants when conditions are bad.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :039, :040, :041, :042, :043, :044, :045  

This week it has become apparent how important a well-tuned home is when adverse outdoor conditions are present. There are over 800 wildfires burning throughout California. The smoke today was so bad the sun could barely be seen through the haze. The nearest fire is about 20 miles away, but the weather conditions seem to be concentrating the smoke at ground level throughout the entire valley. Even being outside for a few seconds is quite uncomfortable. We’ve been keeping our home’s doors and windows closed and that seems to be doing a good job at keeping the smoke out.

Homes that aren’t as well-tuned will tend to have greater problems with smoke or other contaminants entering or infiltrating from the outside. This is because they will tend to be depressurized causing them to suck outdoor air into the building through available pathways. A major source of depressurization would be caused by leaking duct-work and an unbalanced ventilation system. The low level of chemical out-gassing we have from our furniture and indoor finishings means we can also keep our house more closed up during the times when it becomes necessary.

It may seem like sealing the home would be more important, but sealing isn’t enough. The EcoTips listed above in the suggested review are some of the main tips that can help balance a home to keep outdoor contaminants like smoke from entering. Science

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