Tips to Help your Customers Balance IAQ During Wildfire Season
Resideo’s IAQ expert shares offerings that can help keep a home’s air comfortable when outdoor air is impacted by wildfire smoke
By: Marissa Kocaman*, Product Manager, IAQ Solutions, Resideo
Wildfire season tragically started sooner than usual for our neighbors to the north this year, causing eerie hazy, orange views and making headlines. This summer, I've seen physical evidence of Canada's most destructive wildfire season in more than thirty years in my home state of Minnesota -- where outdoor sports and activities have been cancelled several times due to the outdoor air quality.
While wildfires pose an immediate threat to nature and buildings in their path, they also raise concerns about outdoor air quality, which can in turn diminish indoor air quality.
Professionals have options to help better protect their customers against the polluted air and improve the balance of their customers' indoor air quality (IAQ).
Tips for Homeowners and Contractors Impacted by Wildfires
There are two key scenarios our HVAC contractors may deal with when wildfire smoke is impacting their community. Following are those scenarios and some solutions to combat the smoke's impact.
First Scenario: The homeowner doesn't want to bring outside air into their home
- Tip 1: Seal windows and doors. The key during this time is to limit the amount of air brought into the home, which means keeping windows and doors secure – perhaps telling the customer to limit the number of times they open and close their garage door.
- Tip 2: Ensure proper ventilation control. Several of Resideo's Honeywell Home thermostats, including T10, T10+, T6 Pro Smart, Prestige, and some VisionPRO models have the ability to control and lock out ventilation if a homeowner doesn’t want to bring in outdoor air. When thermostats are set up to control ventilation, homeowners can manually make these changes through the thermostat to help prevent outdoor air from being brought into their home. This means the home is circulating mostly treated air and not pulling in outside air.
- Tip 3: Control Smells. Without ventilation running and less fresh air coming into the home, help reduce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), such as cooking odors and other contaminants in the home using UV Air Purifier with AirBRIGHT® Odor Absorption.
Second Scenario: Outdoor air is being brought into the home and needs to be cleaned.
- Tip 1: Get to know MERV. The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating quantifies filters' efficiency in capturing both microscopic and macroscopic air particles. Use a MERV 13 air filter to reduce contaminants in the indoor air, which can typically capture 50% of small particles (0.3-1.0 µm). One example is the Honeywell Home F200F Media Air Cleaner with FC200 MERV 13 filters. The Honeywell Home FC313 Return Grille Media Air Filters are also MERV 13. Keep in mind that wood smoke particles are on average smaller than 0.3 µm and require a HEPA filter for measurable and efficient capture of this particle size.
- Tip 2: Clean the air. Use an electronic air cleaner like Honeywell Home F300 from Resideo to reduce contaminants in the air. The F300 Electronic Air Cleaner is rated as an equivalent MERV 12 to MERV 16, depending on conditions and the pre- and post-filters used with the product.
In both scenarios, other IAQ solutions come into play when wildfire smoke is impacting communities, such as humidity control during the warm and humid summer days. The right answer, for the contractor and their customer, is a solution that can balance the elements of IAQ. Resideo's Honeywell Home T10+ smart thermostat kits feature humidification, dehumidification and ventilation control all from the same app, which makes it an ideal solution for minimizing the impact of poor outdoor air quality getting inside the home.
By offering the most innovative IAQ solutions, Resideo can help its customers feel in control of the whole IAQ environment, and not just a victim of what is happening outside.
Understanding Particle Size and Filtration
Often referred to as “the lungs of the home,” HVAC systems are responsible for cycling the air in the home to help optimize homeowner comfort. Filters, of course, are a critical part of any HVAC system. When it comes to HVAC filters, filtration performance is important and various factors impact which filter you offer your customers.
When discussing filtration, it's important to understand that particles are described and defined differently. The matrix chart below can help you select the right product and MERV rating for your customer’s home. It demonstrates the MERV ratings commonly seen on air cleaners and replacement filters, the ASHRAE 52.2 efficiency ratings and general Particulate Matter (PM) sizes. Note: Wood smoke is not currently measured using the latest ASHRAE 52.2 ratings, so be cautious of any manufacturer that claims their filters block out woodfire smoke.
The MERV system, which is used in North America, is based on a filtration scale from ASHRAE of 1 (lowest) to 16 (highest). Filters with lower MERV ratings trap lint and household dust – their purpose is to help protect the HVAC equipment. Filters with higher MERV ratings deliver even finer filtration and are capable of capturing pet dander, pollens, mold spores, smoke and more.
However, it’s important to note that while MERV is the primary rating system featured in the HVAC industry, there are two other filtration rating protocols in use:
- Micro-Particle Performance Rating (MPR): This system was developed by 3M to measure a filter’s ability to capture airborne particles smaller than 1 micron.
- Filter Performance Rating (FPR): This rating structure, which was developed by Home Depot for brands sold through its stores, is very similar to MERV but uses a scale of 4 (lower) to 10 (higher).
Seasonal wildfires shine a light on the air we breathe in our home and the expertise the professional contractor can offer to share trusted information. At Resideo, we focus on the facts, and not fear tactics, when selling IAQ and know that our trusted HVAC contractors rely on us to help them protect what matters most.
*About Marissa: Marissa brings eight years of HVAC experience to her product management role at Resideo, supporting IAQ solutions. She spent her early career working in a Minneapolis-based HVAC company where she was the marketing manager and focused on the customer experience, and has worked at Honeywell/Resideo in marketing and product management for nearly five years. Living in Minnesota, she's no stranger to extreme weather, and how it can impact homes and businesses, so she is focused on delivering trusted and innovative offerings that keep families comfortable, help homes and businesses run efficiently and to protect what matters most.