Does Air Conditioning Improve Air Quality?

A well-functioning air conditioner helps improve indoor air quality (IAQ). Learn how an AC unit helps circulate and filter indoor air, as well as maintain temperature.

Does Air Conditioning Improve Air Quality?

A well-functioning air conditioner is not only a source of comfort in hot climates, but it also helps to improve indoor air quality (IAQ). According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Poor indoor air quality can have serious repercussions on a person's health.

The air conditioner helps to circulate and filter the air inside a room, as well as maintain the temperature. Most units contain a filter that removes pollutants and allergens from the air. Staying indoors to escape the heat can be detrimental if your air conditioning system is not properly maintained. Clogged HVAC system air filters and air ducts prevent the air conditioner from supplying fresh air throughout the home.

Ventilation and shade can help control indoor temperature, as well as remove or dilute contaminants in the air that come from indoor sources. This reduces the level of pollutants and improves IAQ. It is important to evaluate the use of ventilation to reduce indoor air pollutants when there are external sources of pollutants, such as smoke or debris, nearby. The air cleaner located near the return air duct or air handler does filter dust, pollen, and other allergens. The air filter in your air conditioner is responsible for trapping and removing particles before they seep into the indoor air.

Most residential forced air heating systems and air conditioning systems do not bring outside air into the home mechanically, but they can remove different contaminants, such as pollen and dust, from indoor air through their filters. A dehumidifier connected to your AC system helps eliminate the moisture that your AC loses and allows your unit to operate more efficiently in the future. Air filters should be replaced every two months to keep the AC running efficiently. Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the home. For larger premises and offices, where there is a complex AC unit or system, a qualified HVAC professional should be sought to perform testing and maintenance. An AC unit or system that is not properly cleaned and maintained can create problems for people with allergies and asthma.

Air conditioning systems involve complex engineering, and maintenance by a qualified AC engineer is vital to ensuring that the unit works and that the benefits of AC are optimal. Poor indoor air quality can become dangerous if left untreated for people with asthma, existing medical conditions, or the elderly. If the air in your home is contaminated with VOCs and allergens, AC is likely to worsen the situation.

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