Monthly Archives: February 2015

Allergy Season in Mobile Benefits From Indoor Air Cleaners

Keith Air ConditioningAllergy symptoms are far from being an outdoor problem. In most cases, outdoor air is actually cleaner than indoor air. You’re 1,000 times more likely to inhale indoor pollutants than outdoor emissions. If allergy season is effecting you inside your home, an air cleaner can help improve your indoor air quality.

Signs of Indoor Allergies

Before you can effectively treat your symptoms, it’s important to make sure they’re coming from indoor allergies. Indoor allergy symptoms include irritated eyes and nasal drainage, among others, and lingering symptoms can last for several weeks.

If you have yellow or green nasal drainage and your symptoms last less than two weeks, you’re probably dealing with a cold and not allergies.

Adjusting Your Environment

If you’re not careful, your home could provide allergy triggers with the ideal environment. Dust mites prefer rooms that are 70 degrees or warmer and with a humidity above 40 percent. Running your air conditioner during the spring and summer can help you maintain the proper comfort levels. A programmable thermostat makes it easier to monitor and maintain low humidity and moderate temperatures.

Installing an Air Cleaner

Air cleaners are available as standalone units, but one of the easiest and more efficient ways to incorporate an air cleaner into your home is to add HEPA filters for your HVAC system. A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter captures at least 99.97 percent of the particles that pass through it, provided they’re at least 0.3 microns in diameter.

Be sure to talk to your HVAC professional for help exploring the right filtration options for your home’s heating and cooling system. HEPA filtration can block airflow in some HVAC systems that don’t have the capacity to handle their density.

Learn more about filtration and air cleaner options available from the HVAC experts at Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. or contact us today at 251-476-3610 to schedule an appointment!

Heat Pumps Are the Latest Air Conditioning Options

Keith Air ConditioningFor Mobile area homeowners who want a highly efficient and cost-effective source of residential cooling, heat pumps offer benefits that standard air conditioners can’t match. The following brief introduction can help you understand how a heat pump can keep your home comfortable throughout cooling season at a lower cost and with less use of energy.

Basic Heat Pump Function

Heat pumps work by moving heat from one place to another. For cooling operations, they pull heat out of your home and disperse it into the air outside. This is accomplished with a liquid refrigerant that circulates between the indoor and outdoor units of the heat pump. Indoors, the refrigerant is evaporated into a gas. As it changes state from liquid to gas, it absorbs heat. The gaseous refrigerant circulates to the outdoor unit, where it’s condensed back to liquid form. The gaseous refrigerant releases the heat it contains during this second change of state. The liquid refrigerant moves back to the indoor unit and the cycle begins again.

Heat Pump Benefits

Heat pumps are extremely energy efficient, which means they use less energy to produce excellent levels of cooling. They require minimal amounts of electricity to power the functions that generate cooling, which reduces overall demand on your local utility company. Their high rate of efficiency means that heat pumps are much less costly to operate on a month-to-month basis.

Heat Pump Types

Most heat pumps are air-source models, which means they use the air around the equipment as the source of heat transfer and release. Geothermal heat pumps use the ground outside your home, or a nearby body of water, as the medium for heat capture and release. Ask your local trusted HVAC contractor if a geothermal model would be right for you.

Learn more about Keith Air Conditioning’s heat pump options, or contact us today at 251-476-3610 to schedule an appointment for your Mobile area home!

Home Ventilation and Clean Air Health Benefits

Keith Air ConditioningThe quality of the air in your home can have a significant effect on your overall comfort and health. Poor indoor air quality can cause respiratory issues, even in those who aren’t allergic to dust, pollen or mold. Allergy sufferers can have their misery increased substantially when indoor air is contaminated with particulates and allergens. Here are a few ways to keep your indoor air cleaner and some of the benefits that attic ventilation, air purification and air cleaning can provide.

Source of Home Ventilation and Air Cleaning

  • Whole-house ventilators: Whole-house ventilation systems, which are commonly installed in the attic, provide airflow that helps keep your indoor air fresh and clean. They get rid of stale indoor air while bringing in fresh, clean air from the outdoors. Energy recovery ventilators use outgoing air to either heat or cool incoming air, recycling heating and cooling you’ve already paid for and reducing stress on your HVAC system.
  • HVAC air filters: Air filters in your home heating and cooling equipment help capture particulates and remove them from your indoor air. High-efficiency filters with higher minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings remove even more contaminants. Air filters should be checked at least monthly and changed when they get dirty.
  • Air cleaners: Air cleaning systems are installed within the airflow of your HVAC system and add an extra layer of high-quality filtration to the air moving through your heating and cooling equipment.

Health Benefits of Ventilation and Air Cleaning

There are several benefits to these indoor air solutions, including:

  • Fewer allergy and asthma attacks
  • Reduced effects of particulate exposure, including less coughing and sneezing, less eye irritation and less nasal congestion
  • Decreased chance of germs, bacteria and viruses being spread throughout your home, reducing likelihood of colds and flu
  • Less dust on indoor surfaces such as shelves
  • Easier breathing and a more comfortable, physically pleasant indoor environment

Learn more about attic ventilation and other home ventilation techniques from the pros at Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. or give us a call today at 251-476-3610 to schedule an appointment!

Humidifiers Are Key To Better Indoor Air Quality

Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. Humidifier and Ventilation ExpertsA healthy home requires clean, fresh indoor air. For Mobile homeowners, this involves more than just changing the HVAC filters regularly and installing an air purifier.

Humidifiers also play a key role in creating high-quality indoor air. Maintaining optimal humidity levels has a beneficial effect on health and can reduce annual heating costs.

You can easily measure indoor humidity with a hygrometer. Also called a humidity meter, this inexpensive gadget can tell you exactly what your indoor humidity level is. You can purchase a hygrometer at any drug store or a supercenter like Walmart. A healthy humidity level should between 35 and 50 percent, but for those living along the Gulf Coast, winter humidity levels are often as low as 5-15 percent.

Because humid air feels warmer than dry air, adding moisture to your living space in winter will give you greater indoor comfort, and you’ll also pay less for heat. When moisture evaporates, air feels colder. During the winter, it’s natural to turn up the thermostat when this happens, thereby increasing energy usage and jacking up utility bills. When you add moisture to the air instead, you’ll feel warmer at a lower temperature, and your energy costs will decrease as a result.

What Does Humidity Have to do With Indoor Air Quality?

Low humidity levels mean dry air. Dry air can be responsible for a variety of physical symptoms such as:

  • Sore throat
  • Itchy, flaking skin
  • Cracked, dry lips and hands
  • Dry nasal passages
  • Sinus problems and sinusitis

How Does Indoor Humidity Improve Air Quality?

Many airborne pollutants such as dust mites thrive in a dry environment. When you add moisture to the air, it gives these contaminants less space in which to circulate.

How Do Indoor Humidity Levels Affect Health?

There are a variety of health benefits that come with proper humidity levels. Here are just a few:

  • Sinuses stay healthier, especially for those with sinusitis and congestion
  • Reduces the potential for nosebleeds
  • Helps those suffering from colds and asthma by lubricating nasal passages
  • Can eliminate snoring caused by a dry throat
  • Helps skin to stay moisturized and reduces dryness on hands and lips
  • Helps nose hairs to trap bacteria and viruses that cause colds and flu
  • Reduces nasal, throat and bronchial irritation
  • Helps to clear up laryngitis
  • Helps those with respiratory problems to breathe easier

Besides keeping your Mobile, AL, home comfortable in winter, reducing energy usage and delivering a variety of health benefits, humidifiers also reduce static electricity and can keep wood surfaces from shrinking, swelling and cracking. To learn more about healthier indoor air, contact the Mobile, AL, air quality experts at Keith Air Conditioning. They’ve been helping homeowners to have greater indoor comfort since 1964, and their air quality testing service can tell you everything you need to know about the state of your indoor air.

Choosing a New Heating System For Your Home

Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. and HeatingChoosing a new heating system for your Baldwin County home can be a tough decision to make, especially with the wide variety of options available. Gas furnaces and air-source heat pumps are two popular options for most homeowners in the Mobile area. Hybrid systems are also gaining popularity thanks to their ability to combine both gas and heat pump-based heating for optimal efficiency. The following takes a look at all three of these options.

Gas Furnaces

When it comes to solid, reliable heating, gas furnaces are the gold standard, so it’s no surprise that many homeowners throughout Baldwin County choose gas furnaces as their primary heating system. Furnaces offer an affordable, reliable source of heat, regardless of outdoor conditions.

Gas-powered furnaces can also be surprisingly efficient for heating systems reliant on combustible fuels. Most furnaces offer annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 90 percent or higher, meaning that at least 90 percent of the fuel used by a gas furnace is effectively converted into usable heat.

Many modern furnaces offer a 98 percent AFUE thanks to a variety of advanced features, including electronic ignition, secondary heat exchangers for condensing flue gases, and burners that work in concert with variable speed blowers to modulate heat delivery, thus preventing cold spots and eliminating the energy-robbing on/off cycle.

Air-Source Heat Pumps

An air-source heat pump is a unique type of heating system that operates a bit differently from the standard furnace. Instead of burning natural gas, oil or other fossil fuels to generate heat, heat pumps rely on the same basic principles that make air conditioning work, but in reverse.

Whereas a typical air conditioner is designed to extract heat from indoor air and expel it outdoors, a heat pump extracts the latent heat found in outside air and transfers it indoors. Even at temperatures just above freezing, a heat pump effectively and efficiently generates and distributes comfortable heat throughout your home.

Heat pumps are surprisingly energy efficient and economical to operate, with the typical heat pump being as much as 40 percent more efficient than a comparable gas-fired heating system.

In addition to having a heating system, you also have your air conditioning in the same unit. Tackling the summer heat is as simple as readjusting the thermostat. Once the heat pump switches to cooling mode, you can enjoy cool and comfortable temperatures in your home all summer long.

The Best of Both Worlds

Air-source heat pumps offer extraordinary efficiency until the point where outdoor temperatures drop below freezing. Gas furnaces offer reliable heat no matter the circumstances, but they lack the sheer efficiency of its heat pump counterpart. So why not combine them?

That’s exactly what a hybrid heating system does. Hybrid systems are designed to offer the best traits of both heat pumps and gas furnaces by combining the two within a single, unified package. These dual-purpose systems offer smart technology that allows an effortless transition between gas heat and heat pump operation according to weather demands.

For instance, a hybrid system can seamlessly transition to gas heat whenever outdoor temperatures fall below freezing, giving your home reliable heat under harsh weather conditions. When the mercury climbs above freezing temperatures, the hybrid system transitions back to heat pump operation.

Which Should You Choose?

All three heating options have their compelling attributes, but your final decision will likely depend on your immediate and long-term home needs. For new homes and renovations, a heat pump can make the most economic sense. You’ll save hundreds of dollars each year in heating costs when compared to other forms of heating, plus you’ll also have air conditioning available throughout the summer months.

If you already have a central air conditioning system and want to keep it around a while longer, choosing a gas furnace is a more economical solution than replacing the existing A/C with a heat pump. If you want to enjoy the benefits of both heating systems, investing in a hybrid heating system is your best bet. It’ll also help you avoid the problems faced by heat pumps during an unexpected cold snap, since you can rely on gas heat as a backup.

When it comes to choosing your next heating system, you can count on the pros at Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. to lend a helping hand. Contact us for all your installation and service needs throughout Mobile and Baldwin County.

Healthy Home Ventilation Tips

Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. Home VentilationWhen it comes to indoor air quality and circulation, residents of Mobile and the surrounding region have more than their share of challenges. Year-round high humidity levels make warm indoor temperatures feel even more uncomfortable and provide the ideal breeding ground dust mites, mold and mildew. With the oppressively humid warm-weather season on Alabama’s Gulf Coast fast approaching, it’s time to take steps to ensure that your home has proper ventilation without exacerbating respiratory issues like asthma and allergies.

Why Home Ventilation Matters

With people spending up to 90 percent of their time indoors at home and work, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking a closer look at indoor air quality. Studies have shown that stale air inside homes is often more polluted than outdoor air in large, industrial cities. For those suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, lack of air circulation can have devastating health consequences, but a poorly ventilated home can impact otherwise healthy people too. Physical symptoms to watch for include:

  • Nasal congestion, sneezing or post nasal drip
  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Soar throats or mouth breathing at night
  • Coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath

Keeping Allergens at Bay

Opening windows to allow the air to circulate offers some relief in poorly ventilated spaces but lets common allergens in Mobile like ragweed, pollen and animal dander entry into your home. To avoid exposure to allergens, Dr. Druhan Howell of the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recommends the following simple strategies:

  • Close windows at night whenever local pollen levels are high.
  • Minimize exercise between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. when pollen is typically emitted.
  • Keep damp environments like bathrooms and kitchens scrupulously clean.
  • Ensure that humidity levels in your home are properly managed.

HVAC Ventilation Solutions for a Healthy Home

From air purifiers to germ-killing ultraviolet lights, the professionals at Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. offer a wide array of indoor air quality solutions that can lower indoor humidity levels and improve air circulation, including:

  • Using energy captured from outgoing air to precondition incoming air, energy recovery ventilators allow you to enjoy fresh air without sending energy bills soaring.
  • Sealing and insulating ductwork in central HVAC systems prevents pollutants and allergens from entering your home through leaks, cracks and loose connections.
  • An air quality analysis of your home by a skilled HVAC technician lets you know which product or service will best meet your needs.

Serving Mobile and the surrounding communities since 1964, Keith Air Conditioning professionals are experts at ventilation and resolving your air circulation problems. To learn more about how to make your home a healthier place to inhabit, please contact us today.