Can my AC System Help with Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?

indoor air quality

Understanding the Relationship Between Air Conditioning Units and IAQ

Your air conditioning unit does much more than just push out cool air. Air conditioning systems today, especially high-efficiency systems, help control what’s known as IAQ or “Indoor Air Quality.”  IAQ is a combination of cleanliness of the air (no dust or pollen), humidity, temperature control and odor.

Why is this important?

Indoor air quality can affect your health, comfort and wallet. The following tips can help keep your air clean, fresh and healthy.

Change your air filters at the beginning of every heating or cooling season or every three months – even better.

  • Filters keep out dust, pollen, spores and other airborne problems that can lead to health issues.
  • Changing the filter is important because a dirty filter causes less airflow, which makes your system work harder and costs you more money in energy bills.
  •  A dirty filter can also cause your system to overheat or lead to other permanent damage.
  • Check with the original equipment manufacturer’s recommendation for exact timing.

Get a High SEER (more efficient) system.

  • To maintain good air quality you need to have longer periods of air circulation allowing the air to constantly pass through the filter.
  • The higher efficiency systems can run at low power for longer periods and keep the air moving in your home. This is simultaneously better for your air quality and is more energy efficient.
  • High efficiency systems (>16 SEER) feature stepped or variable speed modes that change the amount of cooling and air flow that is delivered.

Avoid using room air conditioners and ductless systems that don’t have proper air filtration.

  • These systems are ideal for small spaces that require cooling, but if you try to use them for more than just an “add-on” zone to your main system you will likely not be pleased with the overall air circulation and filtration that will result.
  • The key to keeping your air healthy and dust free is to keep it moving through your ducted central air conditioning system

Keep humidity low.

  • Humidity causes the air to feel hotter than it really is which usually prompts people to crank up their AC system.
  • Without humidity you would actually be more comfortable at higher temperatures and save money on your energy bill.
  • Similar to an air filter, your central air conditioning system can act like a big sponge to remove the moist, humid air from your home, making it important to run efficiently for longer periods.
  • In addition to comfort issues, high humidity can cause mold to grow which can lead to health problems.

The Bottom Line:

Your central air conditioning system can provide good indoor air quality for many years if you and your contractor select the right equipment, have it installed properly and keep up with filter changes and other basic maintenance.

Did you know your central air conditioner could play such a big role in your health and comfort?


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3 thoughts on “Can my AC System Help with Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?

  1. We live in a high rise building 7 floors and ca. 70 units.

    I have developed breathing problems since we moved there some 10 years ago. I am diagnosed with COPD, which recently has caused problems. We share the air cold and hot through a common chiller/Evap system. Every unit has what we call an airhandler. We also share the duct system. What comes typically through this duct system and/or A/C blower is food odor, smoking odor. Who would check our air in the our unit and how could we avoid all other peoples’ odor coming in. I believe I am getting sicker by living here. Should I contact the City, my power provider or ? Or can I rent a device that checks my air?

  2. Hi Jay,

    Most central ducted split systems (common in USA) typically have high airflow and large air filters which help with air quality in the home. For window units and mini-splits, try to get one with the best filter and replace it or clean it often. There is so much variety and size differences between window units and mini splits it is difficult to make a general statement about air filtration and quality between the two. You will have to shop and compare the filter size and quality.

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