Comfort, Quality, Green....It's all the same to me!

TERHi, I'm Tom Ruse. Marketing Communications Manager at Aprilaire. There's a lot of expert advice out there about Indoor Air Quality.  There's also alot of not-so-expert advice.

In my years of helping support the Aprilaire brand, I've learned that there are tons of ways to improve your indoor environment; create a healthier, more comfortable, and energy-efficient surrounding. Some solutions are ok, some are great and some just don't pass the sniff test.

The most important thing about making choices regarding improving your indoor environment is to do some research and make informed decisions based on what is right for you .

Some call it Indoor Air Quality. Now there's a lot of buzz around Green living. We sometimes refer to it as Indoor Air Comfort. Whatever. It's really all about better living, isn't it?

I Love Craigslist

Monday, April 2, 2012 by Tom Ruse

I have to admit I'm kind of a Craigslist junkie. Buying, selling, always looking for deals.

I came across this ad over the weekend and thought it was pretty cool. In case it's too hard to read in the picture, it says:

Room humidifier - $10

I'm selling a room humifier that comes with several fragrances. You can run it with just water or with water and a fragrance. It has been used a total of about five hours, but now that we have an AprilAire system, we don't need it. It's still in great shape.

Thanks for looking."


 

 

 

Air Cleaning - Sure its allergy season, but there's more to it!

Monday, April 2, 2012 by Tom Ruse

Ok, the straight scoop. Whole-home high efficiency air cleaners - the kind installed in your heating and cooling system - have the ability to trap airborn allergens like no portable air purifier can. Its just a fact. A portable air purifier can only work in one room and only in a small area of that room!

Sure, if the allergens and other crap in your home are not airborne, the installed air cleaner can't trap it. You have to vacuum and dust.

But here's the key. The whole-home air cleaner only works when your HVAC system blower operates. When the blower operates it delivers conditioned air throughout your home and the air that's already there has to go somewhere. That's where your return air ducts come in. The old air,  and the crap in it, are returned to the HVAC system thru the return ducts and the air cleaner traps the crap before it goes thru the system again to be heated or cooled.

BUT, you can clean the air more often than when you are heating or cooling. Just run your blower fan more often (put it in the "on" position) and it'll recirculate that air even when you're not heating or cooling - so your CLEANING the air more often.

Installed, whole house air cleaners also help protect your expensive HVAC system and can reduce the amount of dusting and vaccuming you have to do. So, while some portables may take a few contaminants out of a small room, they don't do ANYTHING to protect you HVAC system. Nor will you see an appreciably difference in having to clean the place!

Aprilaire Model 5000 Electronic Air Cleaner

Dogs are people too. And they're 4-legged allergy sufferers

Friday, May 13, 2011 by Tom Ruse
Hey, even Fido suffers from allergies and the recommendations to help are the same as for their two-legged owners....keep things clean, including your indoor air. Check it out

Hire a Navy SEAL to Capture and Kill the Nastiest Invaders in your Home! Allergens!

Thursday, May 5, 2011 by Tom Ruse
Capturing and killing public enemy #1. Job well done!

If you're fighting allergies right now, you might want to install a Model 5000 Electronic Air Cleaner - The Navy SEAL of all air cleaners!

It can capture and kill the nastiest of home terrorists like dust mite feces, pollen, pet dander and more.....And we'll release the photo! Here it is:



Navy Seal Aprilaire Model 5000

Lover Is No Cat-Lover

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 by Tom Ruse

I love the comments in this blog

A woman has to get advice to choose between moving in with her boyfriend of 6 months or keeping her cat.  (you see, boyfriend is allergic to cats). The advice is hysterical. One comment says 'lose the cat, a good man is hard to find'. The other says 'kitty will be a loyal pet forever but who knows how quick before the boyfriend bolts'. Funny stuff.

Annette, the blogger, and professional advice-giver, (she must be, the blog's called, 'Ask Annette') has more practical advice, including compromises, long term objectives, using high-efficiency filters, etc.

I think she misses on one critical point, though. The woman mentions that the boyfriend doesn't like cats and is allergic and yet when at her house doesn’t seem to be bothered by the cat. So which is it, boyfriend? If you just don't like cats, don't make up this crap about allergies. Or is LYING your idea of a good basis for building on a strong relationship?

Gee, this is so good, I might just comment on Annette's blog!


It's Starting

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 by Tom Ruse
We're still freezing here in Wisconsin and cranking on the heat and the humidifiers. But further south they're already talking.....IT's allergy season.!

This Blog Blows - And So Does My HVAC System

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 by Tom Ruse

I was sitting in a meeting yesterday and the subject of uneven heating and cooling in the home came up . Oh, yes it did!  I obviously have no life to speak of (so why would you be interested in my blog, you might ask? Not a bad question, really).

Anyway, the point of the conversation was that several of us have experienced first hand,  that running your HVAC system blower more often than just when there is a call for heat or cool can help even out the temperature differences throughout the house. You know, it works!

I've even found this to help when I have a roaring fire in the fireplace, which I know sucks all the heat out of the house and results in huge swings in temperature from one room to the next. If I run the blower constantly, this uncomfortable, energy-sucking effect is minimized to a degree.

Don't get me wrong, running the blower is not a great solution to an energy-hogging fireplace. But if doing so helps even out temperature swings a bit, it's better than NOT doing it. And if you're not using a fireplace, the idea of running your blower more often is even more effective in giving your system a helping hand to keep you comfortable.

This works especially well in older homes like mine with undersized ductwork, inadequate return ducts, and one system trying to heat or cool two stories. Running the fan more often circulates the air more which not only evens out the temperature throughout the house, but it also cleans the air more often.

Whenever you are circulating the air you are also circulating the airborne dust and pollutants that are floating in the air. It circulates back through your return ducts and is trapped in your furnace filter - or if you have an air cleaner instead of your standard furnace filter, you're trapping a helluvalot more contaminants before the air is returned to your system to be heated or cooled and put back into your house.

----
I was told that this blog was going to have the capability of adding mp3. If I had figured out how to do this, I would have inserted the Rolling Stones' 'She's So Cold' into this blog post.

Health Benefits of Air Cleaning

Thursday, February 24, 2011 by Tom Ruse


Good point about keeping the carpet clean. Another tip is to keep your system blower fan running shortly before, during and after you vacuum or clean that nasty carpet so air is circulating more often and any crap that is kicked up can be sucked into air ducts and trapped in the air cleaner.


Health Benefits of Air Cleaning

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The carpet is actually the biggest "air filter" in your home. This is good, as the carpets hold pollutants which would, on a hard surface, be stirred up by people walking or by ventilation. This carpet "filter" needs to be vacuumed frequently with a HEPA vacuum. Even with a HEPA vacuum, it is best not to vacuum when young children are in the room. The carpets should also be professionally cleaned every 12 months.

Health Benefits of Air Cleaning

Monday, February 21, 2011 by Tom Ruse


Our friends at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) have a nice website that among other things, explores air filters. It correctly communicates that the HEALTH benefits of using an air cleaner are of a dubious nature; that there are conflicting viewpoints and studies out there. But then, the website goes on to quote that the EPA recommends air filtration.
 
It also compares various methods for air cleaning. In particular, an air cleaner installed with the heating and cooling system has the advantages of using: 

" the great force with which air will pass through the filter. And it eliminates a space-consuming appliance and an additional sound in your home. On the other hand, the filters may be more expensive and more difficult to handle; and they may need to be changed more often. Consult your doctor and your heating service on this alternative to a portable system. Applying the already-existing fan"
 
One note to clarify; these whole-house systems, once installed,  are typically LESS difficult to handle and need to be changed LESS often than portable room air cleaners. And yes, the filters are more expensive than 1" filters you buy at the hardware store. But you only change them once every 1 or 2 years. You can get two of them for about sixty bucks online. So its $15 - $30 a year for a filter.

They also provide the added benefits of keeping your expensive heating/cooling system cleaner and running more efficiently.

Back to the HEALTH benefit - it's totally true that the jury is still out on that as it relates to air cleaners. It's also totally true that high efficiency air cleaners installed in your HVAC system capture alot more crap than any portable device or regular furnace filter. Just look at a dirty filter coming out of one some time. All that crap is airborne before it's trapped in the filter.

It's also totally true that I know allergy sufferers who swear by them.

Indoor Allergies

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 by Tom Ruse
Nasty stuff about dust mites, but hey. It's Anderson  Cooper! HE's so pretty, it helps me get through the Nasty stuff. He even interviewed Dr Clifford Bassett, who also reported this nasty stuff for us.

Humidifier Maintenance

Tuesday, January 4, 2011 by Tom Ruse

I just got an email from the senior home editor for Popular Mechanics asking for some guidance. It's worthy and timely with the season, so I am including his question and my answer here:


His question:

A reader has emailed me with a couple of humidifier questions. He just
bought a home with an AprilAire humidifier and wants to know what to do with
it in the summer. Aside from the obvious (shut it off and perhaps switch the
damper lever on the duct to the summer setting) what else can I tell him?

He also describes a component that sounds like it's the humidifier water
panel evaporator. He's suspicious of the white/gray crust on the panel and
mentions that it's crumbling. First, can you tell me what the material on
the panel is? Second, I would assume that it's best to replace the panel, if
not in the spring, then before the next heating season.

I'd welcome any help that Aprilaire can lend in answering this reader's
questions. Given that this is for the May issue, time is of the essence.

My answer:

Hi Roy, Happy to help.
 
It's difficult to say all of the things to look for without knowing the model. For example, the damper "summer" setting would assume the reader has a bypass humidifier. If so, you are correct. And make sure to emphasize to change this every season so he is properly humidifying in winter, and not wasting air conditioning energy in summer.
 
But if it is a power unit, the model 700, there is no damper lever.
 
Besides that, however, you are correct. The water panel evaporator should be changed once a year; before the heating season.
 
 If there is white/gray "crust" on the panel that is crumbling, then it is probably deposit build-up and that's the sign of a panel that needs to be replaced. Make sure he purchases Aprilaire brand. There are cheap knock-offs. He can buy them online or from his HVAC contractor.
 
Note, however, that a brand new water panel will come with the metal mesh already covered in a white slurry. This is sometimes confused with a panel that is dirty, but this is actually a slurry that is added in the manufacturing process to help the water cling to the panel and therefore aid in the evaporation process.
 
The reader should also make sure the drain lines are clear. If they're not, they should be flushed or replaced. The water tube going from the water line into the humidifier should also be checked to be sure it is clear of deposits.
 
I would also instruct this reader that since he has purchased an existing home, he should have his heating and cooling professional check out his entire system, which he should do at least yearly anyway. At that time, the service tech can inspect the humidifier and make sure it's all up to snuff. Likely, he can do all of the above maintenance I mentioned for a very small part of the service call.
 
This would also be a good time to see if there are any new upgrades that he might be interested in. For example, we've recently added automatic digital control to our units which are more accurate and eliminates the need for the homeowner to keep changing the humidistat setting based on changes in outdoor temperature.
 
If he needs to find an Aprilaire dealer near his location, he can go to http://www.aprilaire.com  and type in his zip code in the FIND A DEALER box. He'll also find alot of FAQ's there and a 1-800 number where he can call in and get a live, Wisconsin body to answer his question!
 
Hope that helps.
 
Tom

New Years Resolutions for Comfort and Joy and Energy Savings

Thursday, December 30, 2010 by Tom Ruse

If you're on Facebook, check out Lou Manferdini's latest post. If you're not, here it is anyway.......

Lou Manfredini

In 2011 resolve to do something meaningful for the environment by upgrading things in your home. Try some LED lights, consider a tankless water heater, or just turn off the water that runs while you brush your teeth. There are new technologies coming to the forefront every day, some are still expensive and the payback may take time. But it's all worth it and will help us save money down the line. Happy New Year!


Here are a few other ideas - get a reliable easy to program thermostat so you can set back your temperature at night or when you're not at home. It can save you up to 30% on your energy bills!

Aprilaire Humidifier TV ad

Monday, December 13, 2010 by Tom Ruse
Here's our latest TV commercial. No Goldfish were harmed during the production of this commercial and I'm happy to report that Goldie is comfortable and warm.

Make Love To Your Humidifier

Thursday, December 9, 2010 by Tom Ruse
So, I recently shared some wacko who has a video online showing how he made a humidifier basically using a bowl of water and a wet rag.

I saw another one today showing some guy wiring a fan to a hot electric kettle. Costs a dollar. There's a safe way to humidify!

These people making these videos for no apparent reason have way too much time on their hands. (Apparently so do I since I found them and watched them.)

Well here's one almost worth the time. It touts a portable humidifier, and since Aprilaire is all about whole-house installed products, I did feel a little weird sharing it. But it's so cool, I couldn't resist.

Hey, portables do have their place. If you have no ductwork, no room, and no budget, it's a way to get some humidity in the air. I'm not sure if I'd get this jazzed about it though:

I can't resist showing this.

Winter Freezing and Thawing - Those Damn Jams

Monday, December 6, 2010 by Tom Ruse
Last winter my wife and I blew in some additional attic insulation to help reduce two things; 1.  our footprint on the environment and 2. the utility company's footprint on our checking account;  not necessarily in that order of priority.

We spend a good chunk of the weekend doing this messy, back-breaking job ourselves in order to reduce a 3rd thing;  a contractor's footprint on the same checking account.

In doing so, we may have created another problem; lack of ventilation in the attic. Last year we had an inordinate amount of freezing and thawing patterns with lots of rain, ice and snow. More than usual, even for Wisconsin. The roof developed huge ice jams. (or ice dams, I've never known which was correct. Google finds both).

I'm not completely sure whether the problem is a result of our efforts in the attic. My wife is convinced we improperly covered up the vents in the soffits, which caused the ice jams. Could be.

I do know that many other houses in the area looked as ours did, so there is a possibility that the crazier-than-normal thaw-freeze cycles we experienced made the damn jam phenomenon just that much worse.

Regardless, I'm pretty sure we have another weekend in store for us crawling around on our knees in the attic to find and/or fix the problem.

Lou Manferdini Tips for cleaner healthier air in winter

Monday, December 6, 2010 by Tom Ruse
Lou, our friend from Chicago, had some good advice for winter time comfort and health.

CATch the FEVER

Monday, November 22, 2010 by Tom Ruse


I occasionally visit and stay at my brother's house. They have a cat who really rules the roost. Seems like every time I'm there my brother or sister-in-law show me fresh wounds from their recent "playing with the adorable kitty". FRESH WOUNDS! Are you kidding me?!!???! 

I thought I had it bad to have to pick up my dog's crap in the yard. Well, it IS bad, but at least she doesn't claw and scratch! She just craps.

Here's some good advice, especially for holiday travelers.

 

Humidifier for every budget

Thursday, November 18, 2010 by Tom Ruse

There are all sorts of options. This ain't one of the better ones.

I think it took him longer to make this than it would  to install a whole-house humidifier on your furnace.

Gotta love the price, though.

Low Humidity - It's Just WRONG!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 by Tom Ruse
Kind of a weird title, but lots of good detail here on humidity control. Includes links to how relative humidity works, how it's measured, and a bunch of other stuff you really don't need to know, like why air dries out in Winter, understanding water in the atmosphere, water vapor and air density, etc.

Humidity, Temperature, Comfort, Heating and Cooling

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 by Tom Ruse
I always knew too much humidity and too little humidity affected my comfort;  too much and you feel stuffy and sticky.  And too little and you experience annoying static shock, itchy skin and all that. But until coming to Aprilaire, I really never realized the affect humidity has on feeling too hot or too cold.

It's true though. With the right levels of humidity you feel warmer when its cold and cooler when its real hot and humid.

Hey, who am I to argue with Discovery?


So now as we prepare to start blasting the heat, which always dries out the air, we can actually feel warmer at cooler temperatures by using a humidifier. It works.