Ventilation & Air Quality Upgrades to Keep You Safer This Fall
Boy has this year felt like a rollercoaster! For starters, the new decade had barely begun when we went into quarantine.
From there, we have heard one set of conflicting instructions after another, leaving us without a clear idea of how to avoid getting COVID-19.
Recently, the Ontario education minister released a $500M fund designed to upgrade the air quality and ventilation in schools this fall.
$500 million is a pretty forceful number - wouldn't you agree? This decision is in alignment with what air quality engineers and research virologists are now asserting: that the virus that causes COVID-19 is primarily an airborne pathogen.
Scary, yes, but it is also good to have actual facts to work from. Whether or not you can control the air quality at your children's school or not, you can absolutely improve the air quality at your home. We will explain how in this timely post.
Improve Air Filtration
Even back before research confirmed the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had already released updates encouraging the use of portable or central air cleaners.
Here, the term "air cleaner" refers to both air filtration systems and air purification systems, however, all air cleaners are not equal when it comes to addressing concerns specific to COVID-19.
In particular, you want to avoid any air cleaner that produces ozone as a by-product. You also need to be aware of the limitations of basic air filters (lower-rated MERV HVAC filters).
The type of air cleaner that is being widely used in hospitals, clinics and laboratories worldwide is called a HEPA filter.
HEPA stands for "high efficiency particulate air" and it refers to the filter's ability to trap airborne solid particles, in effect straining them out of your indoor air.
Of course, this is exactly what your normal MERV filter does but HEPA filters do it much, much better.
A HEPA filter can remove particles as small as 1/100th the width of a single one of your hairs! Are you in need of your own HEPA filter to help improve your at-home indoor air quality? Contact our team at Bi-Temp in Belleville, Ontario!
Can HEPA filters trap SARS-CoV-2 particles?
The short answer is "yes", however, it is important to understand that the particles that carry the virus are liquid droplets, not solids. What happens is that a liquid droplet containing viral RNA hitches a ride on a solid particle.
The solid particle with its viral hitchhiker then gets propelled by air currents into the HEPA filter, which then traps it and permanently removes it from your indoor air.
The average size of an airborne viral droplet is 0.125 microns, or 125 nanometers (so, basically, it is very small).
HEPA filters can trap solid particles as small as 0.01 microns, or just 10 nanometers, and they can do it with 99.97% efficiency.
Installing a HEPA filter is a reliable way to trap any airborne droplets that have attached to airborne solids such as dust particles, specks of ash, mould or mildew spores, bacteria and other micro-solids.
The key here is making sure that the entirety of your indoor air supply passes through the HEPA filtration unit before it reaches you.
This can be accomplished in one of two ways: either through installing a central (ducted) HEPA filtration system that works with your existing HVAC system or through adding a portable HEPA air cleaner to your indoor space.
WARNING: What you don't want to do is go out and buy a HEPA-rated furnace filter and install that in place of your normal furnace filter. Unless your HVAC system is rated to handle a HEPA-grade filter, you risk a blower motor burnout, home fire and extremely expensive energy bills trying to clean your air this way.
Increase Air Ventilation
Circulation is the method by which you ensure that every single bit of your indoor air supply has to pass through whatever air cleaner system you choose.
Ventilation, however, is still the single most important ingredient to protect you when you are inside a space where infectious virus droplets are also present.
This is because ventilation is what reduces the concentration of infectious droplets and other toxins so that they are less dangerous if you come into contact with them.
Ventilation is the reason that people are being encouraged to hold necessary meetings and gatherings outdoors whenever possible. When you are outdoors, even if an infected person is in your immediate vicinity, the amount of infectious viral matter is likely to be at a lower density with so much fresh air surrounding it.
You can add ventilation by opening a window or door to the outside. Turning on your HVAC fan or running exhaust fans can also improve ventilation indoors.
The heat recovery ventilator (HRV) is the gold standard for adding back fresh, pure outside air into your indoor space. HRVs are a good choice for homes and buildings that have existing ductwork already installed.
Where it is not possible to boost ventilation in any of these ways, air cleaners are your best bet to reduce the risk of infection.
Add Air Purification
Air purification is another way to clean the air. The most powerful purifier on Earth is ultraviolet light from our Sun, and specifically the UV-C light band.
In its short-wave form, UV-C does a fantastic job of damaging the active RNA (the part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that can harm you) so it cannot replicate and make you sick.
Here, again, it is vital to make sure that any infected air inside your space passes through the UV-C light band before you breathe it in.
And here again, as with HEPA air filtration systems, there are two main ways to achieve this: either install a central (ducted) UV air purification system or add a portable UV air purifier to your space.
Get in Touch With Bi-Temp LTD. In Belleville
Our pandemic extra safety protocols at Bi-Tempt LTD. in Belleville, Ontario allow us to continue providing our clients with prompt and professional 24/7 emergency service - including nights, weekends and holidays!
Essential Tips to Use Your Air Conditioning Safely During COVID-19
It’s difficult to comprehend that just a few months ago we were going about our lives as usual. We had no idea that a new novel coronavirus had been unleashed and a pandemic was about to hit the world.
The learning curve has been steep and sometimes feels never-ending, but we are getting there. We are learning how to stay safe and navigate a level of change that is unlike any other we have faced over the last century.
The latest learning curve we are tackling focuses on the role of air conditioning and ventilation in possibly spreading coronavirus droplets. Last month’s blog post focused on the potential link between ventilation and coronavirus.
This month, we bring you up to speed on what researchers know about safe use of your air conditioner during the pandemic. These essential tips will help you stay safe inside your home and/or workplace.
Should You Or Shouldn’t You Use Air Conditioning Right Now?
The first big question on everyone’s mind these days is simply: should you use your air conditioning right now or should you switch it off and sweat?
Which option is safer?
As of late May 2020, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health was asked to look into whether coronavirus droplets could potentially spread through central HVAC ducts.
At the same time, a survey of 100 hospitals from the hard-hit state of New York produced evidence suggesting that poor ventilation can work in tandem with HVAC systems to spread COVID-19 at greater distances than current social distancing guidelines protect against.
No one in the HVAC industry (or any other industry) has been happy to hear this, but it doesn’t mean it is safe to just switch off your A/C, especially with one heat advisory after another sweeping across the nation.
The under-appreciated dangers of heat stroke and heat exhaustion can cause fatalities long before a COVID-19 droplet is even a gleam in the eye of your immune system.
You need to stay cool. This simply has to be your first health priority. If you can stay cool without using your air conditioner and that helps you feel safer, then do that.
Otherwise, using your air conditioner is strongly recommended, especially if someone in your family is very young, very old or health-compromised in some way.
How You Use Ventilation Is More Important Than Whether You Use A/C
With further research, scientists and HVAC engineers now believe the link between ventilation and the spread of COVID-19 is a two-way link.
In other words, ventilation can potentially increase or decrease the risk of catching COVID-19.
1. Airflow from ventilation can propel infectious droplets further inside a space.
2. Inadequate ventilation can cause buildup of infectious droplets inside a space.
So let’s look at each one of these issues separately...
Too Vigorous Ventilation Airflow
In the case of the original restaurant in Guangzhou, China, where the pandemic is said to have started, researchers traced the trajectory of the infection from the index (first) patient to the other infected diners.
The path pointed directly back to where the index patient was seated and which direction the air conditioning vent was pointing.
In this case, the vent was directing airflow at the index patient and then outward towards the other diners who would later become infected.
Here, researchers now believe the presence of ventilation was not the primary problem. Rather, it was the directional airflow that caused additional infections.
In the case of the 100-hospital New York survey, which delivered the shocking news that 66 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were already sheltering in place when they became ill, the issue appears to stem from the exact opposite problem.
When the air inside a space becomes too stale (i.e. not enough fresh air from ventilation is coming into that space) then the concentration of infectious droplets can rise.
This is one potential explanation for why the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise in New York, a city where multi-unit, multi-floor housing is the norm, even after the stay-at-home order was issued.
4 Essential Tips to Use Your Air Conditioner in the Safest Way This Summer
These four essential summer safety tips will help you use your air conditioner safely.
1. Having a clean air filter in your HVAC system really matters!
If your air filter is dirty or is not properly installed, what you are going to get is an increase in toxins circulating throughout your space.
This is simply vital to understand, since scientists now believe infectious droplets get lighter due to evaporation and can attach to solid particles of dust and dirt and get sucked into your HVAC system, where they can travel much greater distances!
2. Air conditioning maintenance can make the difference between clean air flow and dirty air flow.
A dirty air filter will transport toxic particles into the guts of your HVAC system - the blower motor, the fan blades, the belts and the ducts. So you need to clean all that out before adding additional air flow.
3. Do not overcrowd your space so that proper ventilation is not possible.
Social distancing is important even inside your home, since scientists now know that a completely symptom-free person may still be carrying COVID-19 and can infect others.
In other words, you want enough ventilation inside your home or workplace to counteract the potential for an accumulation of infectious droplets that no one realizes is present.
4. Directional airflow matters in safely ventilating a space.
You don’t want the fresh incoming air to be blowing on you or at you.
Get in Touch With Your Bi-Temp Technicians
Our team of qualified technicians at Bi-Temp are here to serve your HVAC, ventilation, air filtration and purification needs. Located in Belleville, Ontario, Bi-Tempt services Quinte and the surrounding regions. We are also currently providing contactless service and payment options during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can Ventilation Spread COVID-19?
Up until just a handful of months ago, terms like "HVAC" and "ventilation" weren't exactly hot topics on the world wide web.
All of that changed, however, when the first cases of the new novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, were announced.
Suddenly the race was on to deconstruct the Wuhan, China, restaurant where the index patient dined and then infected nine other diners.
At first the pattern of infections in that restaurant seemed like an open and shut case. Until researchers noticed something strange: some of the diners who caught COVID-19 were seated too far from the index patient to blame a lack of social distancing.
That left only one other obvious culprit behind the virus spread: the restaurant's ventilation system.
Could air conditioning be at the root of the now-worldwide pandemic we are facing? In this post, learn what we know, what we don't and what you need to know to stay safe.
Can Coronavirus Spread Through Ventilation?
Answering this question is tough - especially if you don't want to spark a worldwide panic.
After all, ventilation is an essential component to two modern conveniences that are near-universally loved: air conditioning and heating.
This may explain why none other than the World Health Organization (WHO) itself recently issued two completely different position statements regarding the role of ventilation in potentially spreading COVID-19.
- Twitter (March 28, 2020): COVID-19 is "NOT airborne."
- WHO official brief (March 27, 2020): Airborne transmission "may be possible..."
- Part of the challenge in interpreting the information in these WHO memos is that researchers are still arguing over the definition of "airborne transmission."
Could Proof of Airborne Transmission Be Found in Research Funding?
On April 2, 2020, the Canadian Government issued nearly half a million dollars in research funding to a team of scientists working to develop ventilation upgrades to protect against airborne transmission of COVID-19.
The team's stated goal for how they plan to use the research funds is to "make buildings safer."
Researchers say there is definitive evidence that infectious droplets containing active COVID-19 viral particles can go airborne and stay that way long enough to travel greater distances and potentially infect people.
The research team plans to delve even more deeply into the facts of how the air conditioning and ventilation system at the Wuhan, China, restaurant transmitted COVID-19 from the index patient to nine other diners who were not seated close enough for direct droplet transmission.
The team also plans to investigate a variety of HVAC filtration and air purification options to isolate how/whether certain measures have a greater impact on disrupting airborne COVID-19 transmission.
Ventilation Can Potentially Cause COVID-19 to Spread To Further Distances
From this information, it seems both smarter and safer to err on the side of caution and assume COVID-19 can potentially spread with help from ventilation air currents.
This is also scary information to take in! It means social distancing alone may not - and likely is not - sufficient to protect you, your loved ones and your workers from encountering virus droplets.
So, what now? What can you do to stay safe as researchers continue working to identify and introduce new protective strategies?
Air Filtration and Air Purification: Two Protections Available Now
We just talked about how the University of Alberta research team is spending their nearly half a million dollars in research funding to study air filtration and air purification.
The team wants to identify how varying the frequency of filter changes, the types of filters used and the indoor air quality aids installed may reduce the risk of COVID-19 airborne transmission.
How Air Filtration May Protect You From COVID-19
Let's start by looking at air filtration.
There are many types of air filtration that can be used with your garden variety residential or commercial HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems.
The type that is of greatest interest to researchers at the moment is called HEPA, or high efficiency particulate air, filtration.
HEPA filters are incredibly dense. They are too dense to work with the blowers in most residential and commercial HVAC systems.
But HEPA filtration can be added as a standalone filtration system to work directly with the ducts in a central HVAC system, bypassing the blower motor and simply filtering the warmed or cooled air before it enters the air ducts.
Portable HEPA filters can be used in non-ducted or single-room spaces in a similar way, simply by continuously filtering airborne micro-particles out of the air.
How Air Purification May Protect You From COVID-19
Air purification in this context refers to ultraviolet germicidal irradiation using short-wave band-C UV light - the most powerful type.
At close quarters, UV-C light can change the molecular structure of organic viral particles so the living RNA inside each molecule cannot function correctly.
UV light purification systems can be retrofitted to work with any central HVAC system, even if a HEPA filtration unit is also in place.
Portable UV purifiers are also available to neutralize airborne toxins in non-ducted and single room spaces.
Keep Changing Those HVAC Air Filters!
We also strongly recommend that you continue changing your HVAC air filters at least monthly, but even more often if you are able.
The cleaner your HVAC filter is, the less risk there is of toxic buildup that could get blown back out into your indoor air.
Right Now, Save Up to $1,000 With Spring Rebates
Mitsubishi and Bosch are currently offering rebates up to $1,000 on popular heat pumps and water heaters.
Contact Our Team at Bi-Temp Ltd.
HVAC, plumbing, electrical and air quality are considered essential services here in Ontario province and Bi-Temp remains open for your emergency repair and service needs (read our COVID-19 service statement). Are you in need of heating and cooling services in Belleville, ONtario? Curious of the cost to install central air, ductless and other HVAC systems? Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online. Located in the Quinte area, we serve Belleville, Trenton, Brighton, Napanee and surrounding areas!
Rewind even just a few months ago and business owners were going about their days as usual - excited about implementing their carefully-laid out New Year's plans.
We were all anticipating the opportunity to launch into a whole new decade with gumption and gusto, generating new sales, welcoming new customers, evolving our businesses and achieving our goals.
Little did we know just how much gumption and gusto we would need to weather the storm up ahead. COVID-19 has shaken many businesses down to the studs, forcing some out of business and the rest to get creative at unprecedented levels in order to stay afloat.
Now, at last, the province of Ontario is slowly and tentatively beginning to open back up again. Some businesses are already welcoming local customers again while other businesses continue to operate for online or curb-side customers only.
Why the hesitation? There is still so much more to learn about in terms of how to keep ourselves, our staff, our families and our customers safe.
Thankfully, we also know a great deal more than we did about how the new novel coronavirus spreads. This has helped researchers identify three potentially effective methods to limit its impact - ventilation, air filtration and air purification.
Understanding Ventilation, Filtration and Purification
COVID-19 has brought with it a lot of new terms to learn. For instance, when washing your hands it is vital to understand the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing, as well as which one can do the best job in killing active coronavirus particles.
In the same way, now that breaking research has all but confirmed that coronavirus can travel via air currents - sometimes at great distances - it is important to know the difference between terms like ventilation, filtration and purification.
Which one does what? How do they work together? If you have to choose, which is most important? Let's find out.
What Is Ventilation?
Ventilation refers to adding fresh air to a space. This is different from circulation. Air circulation refers to air movement - simply moving the air around.
Circulation on its own can't dispel or disperse coronavirus droplets. But when circulation is combined with ventilation, the risk of infection via airborne coronavirus droplets decreases.
What you need to remember here is that ventilation equals additional quantities of incoming fresh air.
What Is Filtration?
Air filtration refers to separating solid particles from air, liquid or gas. Filtration can be accomplished through a number of mechanisms - biological, mechanical or physical.
The type of filtration we are most familiar with is the air filter on our furnace. Every so often you have to take out your air filter and either clean it and put it back, or replace it with a new one.
Here, what you want to remember is that filtration REMOVES solid particles from the air.
What Is Purification?
Purification is a process that hinges on first categorizing some substances as "pure" and some substances as "impure" and then rendering (neutralizing or changing) the impurities apart from the pure air.
There are different methods of purifying the air, including ionic, ozone, heat or light. Ultraviolet light is the purification method recommended for targeting airborne coronavirus droplets.
With purification, what you need to remember is that the process primarily works on gases and liquids, rather than solids.
Improve Your Indoor Ventilation
Last month we blogged about the confirmed link between dirty air and increased COVID-19 risk.
While concerns about dirty outdoor air are legitimate and documented, the toxicity of our indoor air has long been a much greater source of concern.
The EPA has confirmed that, on average, our indoor air is up to five times more toxic than our outdoor air. Indoor air is the air we breathe for 90 percent of the average day. For this reason, it is indoors where our greatest ventilation needs attention.
The simplest way to add more fresh air to any space is to open a window or door. Turning on a ceiling or floor fan helps circulate that fresh air faster to diffuse concentrations of coronavirus droplets and reduce risk of infection.
Additionally, upgrading air intake vents, adding a heat recovery ventilator, equalizing air pressure throughout a multi-room space and increasing air flow are all proven methods to increase ventilation.
Upgrade to HEPA Air Filtration
Standard residential and commercial HVAC systems typically do not have the capacity to work efficiently with HEPA grade air filters without risk of causing the blower motor to overheat dangerously.
These incredibly dense, intricate filters are rated to trap and remove up to 99.97 percent of airborne solids - particles as small as 1/100th the size of a single human hair.
A loophole is to install a standalone HEPA air filtration unit that bypasses the blower motor and works directly with your ducts. Portable models are a good choice for ductless spaces.
Add Ultraviolet Air Purification
There is no purification agent more powerful than our sun. Ultraviolet band C is the strongest band of ultraviolet light emitted by our sun. Synthetic short-wave UV-C radiation can effectively penetrate, damage and neutralize coronavirus on contact.
Strong evidence now exists to support coronavirus transmission via air ducts over longer distances. Once coronavirus liquid particles start to evaporate, they get lighter and can become airborne.
But when those liquid droplets come in contact with ultraviolet-C light, they are damaged and cannot infect you. This is one of several reasons why the province of Ontario is now recommending moving group activities outdoors whenever possible.
The best way to add UV air purification is to install an ultraviolet air purification unit to work with your HVAC system's ducts. Portable UV air purifiers are a good choice for ductless spaces.
Get in Touch
HVAC, electrical, air quality and plumbing have been deemed essential services in Ontario.
As one of the oldest heating and cooling companies in Belleville, Ontario, Bi-Temp is dedicated to offering the highest quality products, service and knowledge to the Quinte area and beyond. With our highly qualified technicians, we bring years of experience and professionalism in providing your residential, commercial and industrial business with quality heating and cooling services. Please read our COVID-19 contact guide to learn about the safety measures we have implemented to serve you safely!
Over the past few weeks, we have learned much more about the new novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.
But we still don't know enough. Right now it seems as if every day brings new information, some of it confusing or even conflicting.
A few weeks ago, the “hot topic” was face masks and gloves - do they help or don't they? Now the big debate revolves around air quality. Does it matter?
Thankfully, on this topic, we have solid data to support a definitive answer - YES.
Dirty air and coronaviruses are clearly linked. The more polluted the air we breathe, the more risk we bear of contracting a serious or fatal case of COVID-19.
In this post, we are going to tell you what to do to clean up your indoor air ASAP.
Dirty Air Leads to Increased COVID-19 Deaths
Recently, a team of Harvard University researchers convened to evaluate air quality throughout the United States. The study extended to cover 98 percent of all populated areas.
Study data highlighted a clear link between airborne concentration of fine particulate pollutants (PM2.5) and increased risk of death from COVID-19.
Specifically, for every one microgram increase in airborne PM2.5, the risk of COVID-19 fatalities increased by 8 percent.
This data sounds rather dry and impersonal. It isn't.
Researchers estimated that if the area of Manhattan in New York City had been able to reduce its airborne concentration of PM2.5 by just one microgram over the last two decades, it would have saved 248 lives that have now been lost due to COVID-19.
Why is this relevant to us here in Ontario? Because areas of our own province have a very similar level of air toxicity to what is present in Manhattan.
Industrial Toxins Polluting Ontarians' Air Supply
A research study published just a few months ago highlights serious air quality issues unfolding in areas of Ontario and Prince Edward Island.
One of the biggest concerns is the concentration of benzene, a liquid chemical that is both naturally occurring and produced due to petrochemical refining and manufacturing processes.
Benzene exposure is linked to a normally rare form of leukemia. Three times more Canadians living in affected areas have developed this cancer than anywhere else in Canada.
Benzene is not a PM2.5 toxin. But yet another research study proves that exposure to both PM2.5 particulates (many of which are also linked to operations within the petrochemical industry) and benzene can raise the risk of birth defects as well as serious illness.
What does all of this scary information have to do with you?
Simply put, it is vital to know what is polluting your air before you can take action to clean it up!
3 Key Steps to Take to Clean, Filter, and Purify Your Indoor Air
While COVID-19 is definitely getting the lion's share of the spotlight at the moment, it is far from the only serious disease that can be caused or worsened by exposure to dirty air.
By taking the steps we are about to share here, you protect yourself and your family from not just the coronavirus but also from many other health risks both minor and major.
1. Ventilate your indoor space
Ventilation is the process by which your indoor air supply is continuously refreshed.
By simply sitting in your space and breathing, the air becomes depleted of oxygen and rich in carbon dioxide.
Many activities you do in your home can add other toxins into the air. Do you use air fresheners, perfumes, or colognes, commercial cleaning products, wood or gas-fired stoves or fireplaces, or tobacco products?
All of these can release both PM2.5 particulates and volatile organic compounds such as benzene into your indoor air.
Scary, right?! What can you do about this?
A neat appliance called a heat recovery ventilator can send your now-toxified, stale, oxygen-poor air back outside.
At the same time, ventilation pulls in fresh, oxygen-rich outdoor air into your space, removes excess humidity, and works with any indoor air quality aids to filter and purify it.
Ventilation with a heat recovery ventilator ensures that you always have a ready, steady supply of clean, fresh indoor air to breathe. As a perk, HRVs can also recycle otherwise wasted energy to lower your power bills.
2. Filter your indoor air
Solid PM2.5 particulates are incredibly tiny. Regular furnace filters are no match for these microscopic floating toxins.
The only filter that is dense enough to trap and remove PM2.5 particulates from your indoor air is the HEPA air filter. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters were first invented during World War II to protect scientists from inhaling radioactive particulates.
Today's HEPA filters are even better and can trap micro-particulates as small as 1/100th the width of a single human hair.
HEPA filters offer a higher grade of filtration than what N95 masks can provide. Whereas N95 masks can trap up to 95 percent of micro-particulates, HEPA filters can trap up to 99.97 percent of the same.
3. Purify your indoor air
The last step you need to take is the most important for combatting the coronavirus directly. This is because the coronavirus is a liquid airborne pathogen.
Liquid and gaseous airborne pathogens are less easily captured even by a HEPA filtration system. For this, you need an ultraviolet air purifier.
Ultraviolet air purifiers use synthetic UV-C, the most powerful ultraviolet light band, to damage the thin outer membrane of liquid and gaseous viruses, volatile organic compounds, and other toxins. Once irradiated by UV light, these particles cannot cause harm.
Get in Touch
HVAC, electrical, and plumbing have been deemed essential services in Ontario. Our team is working remotely, but we are still here to serve you.
Please read our updated contact guide to learn how we can help you and your family stay safe and healthy.
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
These days, it is clear our minds are all focused on one topic: the coronavirus.
Staying healthy and safe is the number one priority right now. There is no subject more interesting or worthy of extended conversation and debate.
After nearly a half-century spent in the HVAC, ventilation and plumbing industry, we have learned a thing or two about how to help people stay healthy in their own homes.
In this post, we share our six favorite immune-boosting safety tips to help you keep your family in good health.
Understand how Coronavirus Spreads
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tells us that the coronavirus spreads in three ways:
by touching an infected person (a carrier)
by touching a contaminated surface (door knob, drinking glass, etc.)
by breathing in airborne viral particles (e.g., after someone has coughed or sneezed)
What many people don't realize is that a person can be a carrier for coronavirus without showing any health symptoms at all. Many people who are carriers are not even aware that they have COVID-19.
This is why it is so important to stay at home, practice social distancing and be especially cautious to protect elderly or immuno-compromised loved ones from exposure.
6 Immune Boosting Safety Tips to Use Now
These six simple safety tips can help to boost your immune system function while we are under the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order.
1. Change your furnace filter every month
This may seem like a very simple safety measure - too simple to combat something like a coronavirus.
But guess what your furnace filter gets so dirty with? All that yucky black and grey stuff you see is dust, dirt, pet dander, pollen, bacteria, mould, mildew and other micro-toxins.
Your furnace filter is like a set of lungs for your house. Just as you want to keep your own lungs clean, you want to keep your home's lungs clean.
This way, your own lungs aren't having to work twice as hard to filter incoming air and keep you healthy.
2. Wash your groceries with warm water or cook them
There is a lot of conflicting advice circulating about how best to sanitize produce and groceries.
Please do not use bleach! Bleach is a potent toxin of its own and can cause respiratory irritation and internal injury. Bleach is not supposed to be used on food and will make your immune system work harder to deal with this poison.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that the coronavirus breaks down readily in the presence of heat or warm water.
Just by cooking your food or washing your produce in warm water, the heat will naturally break down any micro-particles that may be present.
3. Add vitamin C and other antioxidants to your diet
Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemical compounds that are present in many fruits and vegetables. The word "anti-oxidant" means "stops oxidation." Oxidation basically means deterioration.
So when you increase your intake of antioxidants, you give your immune system some much-needed expert assistance to fight free radicals and other dangerous matter that is trying to invade your body.
4. Know how to wash and disinfect your hands properly
Even during our current shelter-in-place orders, there may be times you cannot avoid going out.
When this happens, it is vital to know what to do to wash and disinfect your hands properly.
The CDC states that the best way to wash your hands is to use good old-fashioned soap with warm water (remember that heat breaks down the viral particles). Soap your hands thoroughly and rub them together for 20 seconds under very warm water.
Alternately, you can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol content. Thoroughly coat your hands with the sanitizer and rub them together for 20 seconds or until they feel completely dry.
5. Keep your home and vehicle clean and disinfected
This may not sound like fun (especially when there is so much to watch in your Netflix queue!) but it really is vitally important to keep everything you use regularly squeaky clean right now.
Clean and disinfect all shared surfaces like door knobs, light switches, fan pulls, counters and cabinet pulls, toilet handles and seats, water fixtures, steering wheels, keys, appliances, computer keyboards and mice, etc.
You can use any EPA-approved surface cleaner or any cleaner that contains at least 70 percent alcohol. Wearing disposable gloves is highly advised.
6. Get as much rest and high-quality sleep as possible
If there is one single thing you can do to truly give your immune system a head-start against COVID-19, it is this: get enough sleep.
When you are asleep, your body and brain take that time to do repairs on organs and systems, balance metabolism, flush toxins and lower stress levels. Science tells us that sleep is so critical that a chronic shortage can literally shorten our lifespan!
While the average adult needs seven to eight hours, more is better during this coronavirus pandemic. Your immune system needs all the help it can get.
We Are Still Here to Serve You
Here in Ontario, heating, air conditioning and plumbing have all been deemed to be "essential services" during the coronavirus pandemic.
This means that here at Bi-Temp Heating, Ventilating and A/C, we are here to serve your emergency repair and service needs.
We aim to continue to be of service in a way that safeguards your health and also the health of our service technicians and work crews. As our COVID-19 update explains, this means we will be working remotely, just like so many other Ontarians.
If you need emergency repair services, you can contact us by phone at 613-967-1066 for help. We will also be offering contactless payment methods for all repair needs.
Canada has long been a leader in the conservation of natural resources. As a nation, we are committed to reducing our collective and individual carbon footprint more every year.
Here in Ontario, one of the ways this is taking shape is through energy rebates.
These rebates are offered annually to provide you with extra financial support when you make energy-efficient choices.
It is always great to get money back when you need to upgrade your home appliances. But the best part about taking advantage of these energy savings rebate programs is actually what happens next: lower energy bills!
This year, you can save up to $1,000 upfront on the purchase of energy-efficient appliances. Then you can start saving money right away on the cost of running your new appliances. Keep reading to find out all the details!
What Is the Ontario Energy Savings Rebate Program?
The Ontario Energy Savings Rebate Program is a province-wide incentive program to help you do two things:
Afford the purchase of new energy-efficient appliances and products
Afford to run those appliances and products through year-round energy savings
The program has three goals:
Release $200M in funds over a two-year period to support energy-efficiency upgrades
Provide savings of up to 25 percent on the purchase of select items
Provide point-of-sale rebates of up to $1,000 on the purchase of select items
The funding is being released to retailers of all sizes to be passed on to you, the consumer, at the time of purchase.
Which Products and Appliances Are Eligible for Rebates?
The following Energy Star-certified energy-efficient products and appliances are included in the Energy Savings Rebate Program for 2020:
Washer & dryer combo
Tankless condensing water heater
Air purifier/room air cleaner
Ductless mini-split indoor unit (i.e., air-source heat pump)
Room air conditioner
Refrigerator and/or refrigerator freezer
Electric vehicle home charger
How Much Will You Save on Energy Costs?
While nearly everyone is familiar with the concept of Energy Star-certified appliances and products, you may feel less familiar with how much of a difference the purchase of an Energy Star-certified item may make to your bottom line.
In this section, we aim to demystify the potential for energy savings with an example you can use to plug in your own expenses and see how much you may save.
According to recent nationwide residential spending data, we know that the average Canadian homeowner in Ontario reports spending around $2,358 per year on energy.
We also know how this energy gets used* inside the typical Canadian home:
61 percent: heating
3 percent: cooling
19 percent: hot water
14 percent: appliances
4 percent: lighting
* data cites rounding as the reason for a 101 total score.
Since home heating represents the single greatest energy output and expense for the typical homeowner, let's start there to build our formula.
Starting with our annual energy expense of $2,358, we can calculate that 61 percent of that is $1,438.
The Energy Star program tells us that you can save an average of 20 percent on energy costs by upgrading to an Energy Star-certified furnace.
Now we can calculate that 20 percent of $1,438 is $287 per year. This is the energy savings you can potentially reap upfront just by upgrading to a new Energy Star-certified furnace.
To increase your energy savings, you can also choose to undertake various home improvement projects, such as weatherstripping (10 percent) and duct sealing (30 percent savings). Your savings will depend on the degree of maintenance required as well as your energy use patterns.
So now you can take this formula and plug in your own numbers. Start with your annual energy costs. Take 61 percent (or whatever feels reasonable for your usage patterns) and that is what you spend on heating. Deduct 20 percent of your annual heating costs to account for upgrading to an Energy Star-certified furnace. Then deduct another 25 percent off the cost of your new furnace for your Energy Star savings rebate.
How Much Can You Save for Different Products and Appliances?
There is a lot more to learn about how much Energy Star-certified products and appliances can help trim your home energy expenses.
Here are some averages as reported by the Energy Star program for the products and appliances covered by the 2020 rebate program:
Washer: 25 percent on energy; 33 percent on water use
Dryer: 20 percent on energy
Dishwasher: 12 percent on energy; 30 percent on water use
Tankless condensing water heater: 9 percent on energy
Air purifier/room air cleaner: 40 percent on energy
Smart thermostat: 8 percent on energy
Ductless mini-split indoor unit (i.e., air-source heat pump): Up to 30 percent on energy
Room air conditioner: 10 percent on energy
Ceiling fan: 60 percent on energy
Dehumidifier: 15 percent on energy
Refrigerator and/or refrigerator freezer: 10 percent on energy
NOTE: There is currently no Energy Star-certified statistical history for the savings to be reaped from induction stovetop ranges. However, general data shows that you can gain 10 percent energy savings (90 percent efficiency) by switching to induction cooking.
Get in Touch
Here at Bi-Temp, we are proud to be a designated participating retailer for the 2020 Ontario Energy Rebate Savings Program.
When you purchase any of the listed products or appliances you just read about, we can provide you with point-of-sale rebates to help you save money on your new energy-efficient choice!
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
It is no secret the outdoor air on Earth is getting increasingly toxic. We are lucky here in Canada to have some of the cleanest outdoor air of any country… but we aren’t quite so lucky with our indoor air.
The trend toward airtight residential and commercial construction has created very energy-efficient buildings. But we now know that, in solving one problem, the construction industry has unwittingly created another.
Now our homes and workplaces are so airtight they have become toxic air zones. Stale air can’t get out and fresh air can’t get in.
To this end, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that indoor air in North America is up to five times more toxic than outdoor air in most places on the continent.
Is there anything you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your workers? You can definitely take action to clean up your indoor air. Read on to learn what to do.
Why Is Canada’s Indoor Air So Toxic?
According to Breathe: The Lung Association, the average Canadian spends up to 90 percent of their daily time inside.
This is not good news for our lungs. Not only are there greater numbers of toxins in our indoor air, but also they exist at higher concentrations.
In most cases, the specific types of indoor air toxins are the result of personal choice. Most of the indoor toxins creating so many serious health conditions for Canadians today are introduced by us!
Smoking and vaping, use of personal fragrances and care products, use of commercial cleaning products, craft and home renovation projects, pest control poisons, so-called air fresheners, radon gas, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds arising from incomplete fossil fuels combustion (like those from stoves and fireplaces) all release chemicals into the indoor air.
The outpouring of so many different chemicals, gaseous, liquid and particulate, into enclosed indoor spaces is making our indoor air toxic.
Health Symptoms Associated With Indoor Air Toxicity
Many people today still do not realize that many of the products they are using for cleaning, air freshening and personal care are actually loaded with toxic chemicals. So often, it takes recurrent health symptoms before you start to put two and two together.
For example, have you ever been sitting in the break room at work when the cleaning staff comes through to mop the floor or wipe the countertops? If your eyes started to water, your throat felt raw or you started to cough, it is likely that you are sensitive to the harsh, chemical-laden cleaning products they were using.
In the same way, handling pesticides, idling your car, lighting a scented candle or using a perfumed air freshener (and similar choices) can release dangerous chemicals into the air.
Here are some of the most common health symptoms that are now linked to indoor air toxicity at home or at work:
Respiratory: coughing, runny nose, congestion, watering or dry eyes
Skin: rash, irritation, allergic reaction
Allergy and asthma symptoms getting worse
Dizziness, nausea, vomiting
Mental fogginess, trouble concentrating, chronic fatigue
Recurrent sinusitis or bronchitis
Shortness of breath, trouble breathing, wheezing
Mood: irritability, anxiety, depression
Systemic: heart and lung damage, cancer
Today's research highlights the link between indoor air toxicity and health complications in highest-risk populations, including unborn babies, pregnant women, the very young and the elderly.
For instance, low birth weight, premature babies, autism, childhood asthma and allergies, delayed childhood development, neurological issues and other health concerns are linked to toxic indoor air.
How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality At Home or Work
There are four main steps to take to begin cleaning up your indoor air at home or at work. If you commit to taking these steps, don’t be surprised if you, your family and your employees start to feel better right away!
Change your habits
Perhaps the most important step to take is to start paying much closer attention to what you do and which products you use inside your space.
Switching to all-natural cleaners, giving up chemical fragrance or air fresheners in favor of essential oils, taking vaping or smoking outside, installing exhaust vents and range hoods and similar choices will make an immediate impact on the quality of your indoor air.
Because of the airtight construction standards we mentioned here earlier, today’s homes and workplaces literally cannot breathe on their own.
There is no inbuilt mechanism to exhaust stale air or bring in new fresh air. This is why the City of Toronto has mandated that all new construction must include a heat recovery ventilator (HRV).
This appliance does three important things. It ensures a continual influx of fresh air and a continual exhaust of toxic stale air. It balances the humidity. And it lowers energy bills by recycling heat energy.
There are three main kinds of airborne toxins: particulate, gaseous and liquid. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters handle the first type of toxin: particulate matter.
HEPA filters can trap particles as small as 1/100th the size of a single human hair and prevent them from entering the air supply and your lungs.
Ultraviolet air purifiers handle the second two types of toxins: gases and liquids. Ultraviolet light has the ability to change the molecular structure of gases and liquids so they cannot do any damage.
This is especially important with bacteria, fungi and viral matter, which are rendered harmless after exposure to ultraviolet light and cannot make you sick.
All three of these systems can be retrofitted to work with any central (ducted) air delivery system. Portable filters and purifiers also exist.
Get in Touch
Are you ready to clean up your toxic indoor air? We can help!
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Here in Canada, current weather projections indicate our winter is going to be even colder than normal.
If you have prior experience with Canadian winters, you know that is really saying something!
Every year, we get those emergency calls from customers who are facing a sudden mid-winter furnace outage. We sure don’t want this to happen to you!
But neither do we want you to spring for a new furnace prematurely if your current furnace just needs some TLC to do its best work once again this winter.
In this timely post, we share our favorite tips for making a decision between furnace replacement and furnace repair before winter arrives in earnest.
Evaluate Your Furnace’s Current Performance
The first question to ask is whether you feel your furnace is performing up to expectations. To consider this, you will have to think back to the end of last winter.
What were your energy bills like? Were you hearing any strange sounds coming from the general direction of your furnace equipment? Did you feel your home was evenly heated from one room to the next? Was your furnace operation reasonably quiet?
The reason we want you to start here is that sometimes when you are dealing with heating issues, it isn’t actually the furnace that is to blame! When you take the time to identify exactly what you are dissatisfied with, this can lead you back to the real culprit for a timely fix.
Take a Good Look at Your Air Ducts
Here is one common example: your furnace bills start escalating and certain rooms are warmer than others.
But when your HVAC service technician comes out to do a tune-up and safety inspection, you are told that your furnace is in tip-top shape!
So what could be causing the problem? This is always the right time to stop and consider when the last time was that you checked your ducts.
The average duct system has a one- to two-decade shelf life before major repairs or a full replacement becomes necessary. Sometimes ducts can last longer than this, but it is the exception rather than the rule.
A system of older ducts is more likely to be the recipient of patchwork repairs and fixes over the years, including hand-wrapped insulation, tape around connection points, sagging ducts that are propped up on boxes or bins and so forth.
The more degraded your ducts become, the more air leakage will occur. This is especially the case around connection points near the central blower.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that poorly maintained ducts may allow up to 30 percent of temperature-controlled air to leak out before it ever gets to its destination at the other end of the duct.
If your indoor heating is uneven from room to room, this is another prime indicator that you have damaged ducts that are leaking air.
Once our technicians go in to repair and/or replace damaged ductwork, our customers are usually surprised and delighted to discover that their “problem furnace” was never the problem at all!
Potential savings: The average Canadian homeowner spends $2,358 on energy annually, with an estimated 61 percent of that, or $1,438, going to running the furnace. You stand to recuperate up to 30 percent of the air you are paying to heat by simply sealing up your ducts and making strategic repairs or replacements as needed. Recapturing that extra 30 percent trims your heating bill by $431.
Weatherstrip, Seal and Insulate
If your ducts aren’t letting the warm air out, there is a good chance it is your home itself that is letting the air escape.
And if you live in an older home, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that up to 20 percent of your heating and cooling costs annually can be chalked up to air leaks.
Not every homeowner has an inner do-it-yourselfer inside them, but if you do, weatherstripping, caulking, sealing and insulating tasks are simple enough to do during your spare time. If your inner DIY-er is missing, we would be happy to work with you to get these tasks checked off your list before winter arrives.
Potential savings: Using the same average numbers as in the previous example, recapturing that 20 percent of lost warm air nets you a $287 savings on your furnace bills.
Schedule Your Fall Furnace Inspection and Tune-up
It isn’t a stretch to understand how a poorly maintained furnace might deliver sub-par performance. But what is even more important, and what we continually stress to our customers, is that a poorly maintained furnace also represents a significant home fire risk.
When you go more than one winter without scheduling at least a basic safety inspection for your furnace components, your risk of a home fire increases exponentially.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), nearly half of all home fires take place in December, January and February. The number one cause of furnace-related home heating fires is failure to clean and maintain the equipment.
On a happier note, when you do schedule a tune-up and safety inspection, you will reap rewards of up to 20 percent in energy efficiency improvements, trimming yet another big chunk off of your winter heating bills.
Potential savings: Once again referencing our average data, 20 percent of $1,438 is $287.
You Just Saved $1,000 On Winter Heating Expenses
Repairing and resealing your ducts recaptures up to 30 percent of warm air. Weatherstripping and sealing recaptures another 20 percent of warm air. A basic annual furnace tune-up recaptures still another 20 percent of warm air.
This is recapturing up to 70 percent of the warmed air you are paying for, for a potential winter heating bill savings of up to $1,000.
Get in Touch
Ready to save this winter? We can help!
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
When you move from province to province within Canada, home utility habits can change markedly.
For example, if you were previously living in Alberta, chances are high you owned your own hot water tank.
But if you’ve recently relocated to Ontario, it may surprise you to learn that most Ontarians rent their water heater!
Why are habits so different from one province to the next? Do Ontarians know something Albertans don’t?
When You Leave, Your Water Heater Stays Behind
All things considered, a hot water heater may not look that big or bulky, but you can’t easily take it with you when you leave, nor do most homeowners try.
With more Canadians living more mobile lives than at any other time in modern history, renting a hot water heater can make smart financial sense for a variety of reasons.
Buy Versus Rent: A Cost Comparison
To give you a better sense of how the costs can work out if you choose to buy a hot water heater versus renting your unit, here is a little side-by-side cost comparison to consider.
Buying and installing a hot water heater
The first thing many homeowners forget when shopping around for a hot water heater is that the purchase price is only a portion of the expense when you own your own hot water heater.
You also have to pay a contractor to install it for you. This especially holds true if you want to apply for any energy efficiency upgrade credits or rebates offered in Ontario. Often, your contractor must be approved at the provincial level and must apply for the rebates on your behalf.
The cost of your new hot water heater (40- to 50-gallon capacity) can range from $350 to $1,500+ depending on model (tank or tankless) and fuel type (electric, gas, solar, etc.).
The cost to install your new water heater depends in part on the model. Tank models take a few hours to install and tankless models can take a full day if you are changing from a tank model.
Expect to pay $350+ for a tank model installation and up to $1,500 for a tankless installation.
When you choose to own your water heater, you will also need to pay for an annual inspection and maintenance service and for repairs as needed to keep your unit under warranty protection.
An annual inspection and maintenance service costs around $150. Repairs can easily cost the same or more depending on what needs service.
Renting a hot water heater
The typical rental fee for a hot water heater can cost anywhere from $15 to $55+ per month depending on the model and capacity of the unit.
In the vast majority of cases, this monthly rate includes preventative maintenance plus 24-hour repair service.
4 Smart Reasons to Consider Renting Your Hot Water Heater
These are four of the most common reasons our customers give for wanting to rent a hot water heater instead of buying one.
1. You can change providers when changing tanks without penalty
The Ontario Consumer Protection Act (OCPA) protects you if you want to change hot water heater providers as part of replacing your hot water heater itself.
The OCPA also protects you from rate hikes, early termination penalties and equipment buyout fees when you switch providers as a part of switching to a new hot water heater.
2. Maintenance and repairs are included in the rental agreement
It is definitely vital to read the fine print in your rental contract to ensure you understand how and how often preventative maintenance and repairs will be handled.
Reputable hot water heater rental companies will spell out these details plainly in your contract, specifying how repairs will be handled and what is and isn’t covered under your rental agreement (for example, repairs related to normal versus excessive wear and tear).
3. It is easier to keep your budget balanced month to month
When you rent your hot water heater, typically the annual maintenance costs plus unexpected repair needs are included with the monthly rental fee.
This way, you don’t have to experience the stress and worry that comes along with a hot water outage and a major unexpected repair bill at a time your budget really isn’t equipped to accommodate it.
4. You may have a rent-to-own option as well
If you do want to purchase a hot water heater but your current budget won’t stretch to purchase a new unit outright, some providers offer rent-to-own contracts as well.
Some of these contracts even include 0% financing with extended 12-year options available to make payments easy and affordable as you go.
Since a new hot water heater that receives regular (at least once per year) preventative maintenance can easily last 15 years, sometimes it can make good sense to lease to own if you plan to stay in the same area over time.
Choose Your Rental Company Wisely
Media coverage of unethical door-to-door hot water heater salespeople using pressure tactics has been widespread. So too has been coverage for unfair contracts that trap customers into signing an agreement with no end date!
The bottom line here is that when you decide to rent a hot water heater rather than buying one, the rental company you choose to work with really matters.
We recommend that all of our rental customers read about their consumer rights and be aware of what is and isn’t fair in a hot water heater rental contract.
Get in Touch
Is your hot water heater starting to slow down? We offer affordable models for sale and rent!
Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online.
P.S. Don't miss out: our special spring A/C tune-up offer includes a FREE air filter!