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Winter got off to an early start this year and much of the nation has seen temperatures plunge as frigid arctic air dips south.

An early round of arctic air is reminding those in the U.S. about the need to prepare for the polar vortex.

An early round of arctic air is reminding those in the U.S. about the need to prepare for the polar vortex.

Winter got off to an early start this year and much of the nation has seen temperatures plunge as frigid arctic air dips south. Early predictions by AccuWeather suggest the polar vortex will slip down for multiple blasts of cold air this winter, delivering weather very reminiscent of early 2014. The one bit of good news is that the mass of arctic air should march in and then retreat on several occasions, as opposed to lingering over the country for months.

However, in mid-November record lows were shattered across the country and nearly 50 percent of the contiguous U.S. was covered in snow – the highest percentage since NOAA began tracking the figure, according to The Weather Channel.

Protecting Loved Ones from Frigid Winter Weather

While the polar vortex will make heading outside a miserable experience, it takes its toll indoors as well. Families should prepare now for what will be another long winter. Homeowners who have not had their furnace system checked and cleaned need to do so – and also consider how they will deal with low humidity levels. Humidity refers to the amount of moisture that is in the air. As the relative humidity (RH) drops, the air begins to pull moisture out of anything that it can – including people.

When cold outdoor air is brought into the home and heated, indoor relative humidity drops significantly. Because the furnace runs so often during a polar vortex, homes get very dry. Dry air causes a host of health and comfort issues, including:

  • Itchy, dry eyes
  • Cracked and itchy skin
  • Static shocks
  • Dry, itchy noses
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sore throat

Don’t Hang Your House Out To Dry

Humidity control is also integral to protecting a house and keeping heating bills down. Adding humidity when heating allows people to feel comfortable at lower temperatures. Energy.gov states that turning a thermostat back 10 – 15 degrees for eight hours can reduce heating bills by 5 – 15 percent a year. During a polar vortex, keeping the thermostat down a few degrees could quickly add up to big savings.

Just like people, a house also “feels” the pressures of a polar vortex. Dry air can cause expensive electronic devices to fail, create cracks in wood floors and damage instruments and furniture. Ensuring that dry air doesn’t suck the life out of a house requires adding moisture throughout the heating season. A family’s daily routines, such as cooking, bathing and doing laundry add some moisture to the home each day – but not enough to maintain optimal levels.

How to Control the Humidity in Your Home

Humidifiers are designed to efficiently and effectively control indoor RH during the winter months. Some people sleep with a small humidifier by their bed to prevent a dry throat in the morning, or purchase larger units to raise the RH in an entire room.

Many homeowners can also benefit from whole-house humidification solutions. A whole-home humidifier adds moisture to every room by using the duct system of the furnace. Installed by an HVAC contractor, whole-house humidification products can also automatically change the amount of moisture being added depending on variables such as indoor and outdoor temperature. By continually monitoring and controlling how much humidity is added, automatic humidifiers raise RH without causing condensation to form on windows or walls.

If there is one thing we all have in common today, it’s that we’re cold!

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If there is one thing we all have in common today, it’s that we’re cold! According to CNN, all 50 states – even Hawaii – have reported at least one area with below freezing temperatures. In addition, 50 percent of the contiguous U.S. had snow on the ground this morning. We hope this early blast of cold weather passes soon! Comment if you agree!
http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/18/us/cold-temps/

The pursuit of happiness is a unique journey for everyone.

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The pursuit of happiness is a unique journey for everyone. However, there are certain things that can improve attitude and increase the chance of having a great day. Read the list below from Collective Evolution to find out the 6 things that many happy people say they do every day.http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/10/09/6-things-healthy-happy-people-do-every-day/

Don’t forget that clocks are set back one hour at 2 a.m.

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Whoo Hoo! Most of the country gets a little extra shut-eye tonight. Don’t forget that clocks are set back one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday morning in areas that recognize DST. If you’re interested in the history – and controversy – surrounding daylight savings time, read the article below fromTimeandDate.com http://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst/history.html

Today is the official first day of fall for 2014.

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Today is the official first day of fall for 2014. Or do you call it autumn? Read this article from Slate Magazine to learn why the harvest season still carries two names. Regardless of what you call autumn, it’s the perfect time of year to visit Aprilaire.com and learn how to prepare your home for cooler temperatures and dry air.http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/09/29/why_does_autumn_have_two_names_how_the_third_season_became_both_autumn_and_fall_.html

A is for Allergies as Students Head Back to School

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As students head back to class, ragweed allergies are expected to flare. Hay fever symptoms, such as itchy skin, watery eyes, sneezing and coughing can make it hard for a student to concentrate on class work. Unfortunately, it can also be difficult for parents to determine if a child has an allergy or picked up a viral infection after going back to school.

Is it Allergies or a Cold? Here Are Some Key Differences:

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there are some clear signs that signal a child is having an allergic reaction and not suffering from a cold.

  1. While symptoms may be similar to colds, seasonal allergies usually last longer than two weeks and tend to occur at the same time each year.
  2. Dry, itchy skin or a rash is a common symptom with some allergens.
  3. If a child presents with a cough at night or when exercising, he or she may also be suffering from asthma.
  4. An allergy to food often presents with an itching or tingling in the mouth, throat or ears. Parents should make sure school nurses and teachers are informed if a child must avoid certain foods before they go back to school this year. AAP recommends staying up-to-date on lunch room menus and packing a kid’s meal when necessary.

Study-up on Ragweed Allergy Treatments before Sending Kids Back to School

If a student shows signs of asthma or allergies around the same time he or she heads back to school, it’s possible that ragweed is the culprit. However, AAP recommends that parents visit an allergist to identify exactly what it is their future honor student is allergic to. The organization explains that an important step in reducing symptoms is simply avoiding the trigger. However, it’s very hard to avoid ragweed because it grows throughout the country and easily makes its way indoors.

For children with an allergy to pollen, dust or other airborne particles, keeping irritants out of the house is essential. Whole-house air purifiers can trap pollen in a home’s indoor air, so kids can breathe easier while studying. Also trapped are viruses and bacteria, which kids are sure to bring into the house more often after they go back to school.

Honey Cures Ragweed Allergy – Is it Too Tasty to be True?

Honey Cures Ragweed Allergy – Is it Too Tasty to be True?

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In 2014, many allergy sufferers will try and meet the longer ragweed season with a new arsenal of products to relieve their sneezing, itching and coughing. And one of these wonder products won’t come from the pharmacy but the farmers market, as people turn to locally produced honey for a cure.

However, according to Web MD, the theory that a spoonful of honey this summer will keep allergies at bay in the fall is mostly a myth. The notion of vaccinating against allergies by ingesting small amounts of pollen deposited in honey by bees has some scientific backing – but studies have shown little or no correlation to reduced allergy symptoms. The most obvious reason for honey’s lack of effectiveness is that it doesn’t possess the quantities or types of pollen required to immunize against common allergies.

What’s the Buzz About This Year’s Ragweed Season?

With or without a sweet tooth for honey, those with allergies will be looking for relief as summer 2014 draws to a close and hay fever symptoms begin. Known medically as allergic rhinitis, hay fever is primarily caused by an allergic reaction to ragweed plants. The plant is found in great quantities across the U.S. and experiences significant growth in the month of August, which is why many Americans find their symptoms at their worst this time of year.

Unfortunately for victims of ragweed allergies, 2014 could continue a trend of increasingly agonizing symptoms. According to U.S. News and World Reports, some asthma and allergy experts say that global climate change could be increasing the ragweed season, meaning the plant will have more time to release pollen grains, which carry for hundreds of miles in the wind. The small pollen also easily makes its way into homes through open windows, on clothes and on family pets.

For those suffering from hay fever, reports that their allergy symptoms could be lasting longer is certainly unwelcome news. It could mean more medicine – some of which has undesired side effects – or continued discomfort inside and outside of the house

Top 3 Natural Ways to Fight Back Against Ragweed Allergies

While the cure for ragweed allergy may not be sitting in the pantry, there are other remedies that can at least reduce the severity of symptoms this August without a trip to the pharmacy.

  1. Essential Oils in the Shower: One relaxing way to feel better is a hot shower with a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the bottom of the tub. The water will wash off pollen that has collected on the body during the day while the steam and eucalyptus open up sinuses and moisturize dry nasal passages.
  1. Stinging Nettle: While scientific evidence is inconclusive, Web MD reports that taking supplements of stinging nettle at the start of ragweed season appears to help ease the severity of symptoms with fewer side effects than antihistamine drugs.
  1. A Whole-Home Air Purifier: An excellent addition to allergy and asthma relief, an air purifier installed in an existing HVAC system reduces the amount of allergens that are in the air. Because allergies are a direct reaction to pollen and other particulates, purifying the air should improve comfort in the house.

For more information on whole-home air purification, total control of IAQ and available options for removing ragweed allergens form the home, visit Aprilaire.com. Also, find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Aprilaire.