3 Essential Appliances for Better Indoor Air Quality

As summer fades and temperatures start to drop, many people look forward to spending the winter months inside, cozied up next to their fireplace or heater. Staying indoors during hot or cold weather is great for your comfort, but it also means you are breathing air that, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, contains two to five times the concentration of some pollutants that you would likely encounter outdoors.

Common sources of indoor air pollutants, the EPA says, include building materials and furnishings such as newly installed flooring, upholstery or carpet, cabinetry made from certain wood products, household cleaners, excess moisture, and biological pollutants like pollen, mold, viruses and pet dander.

It is possible that indoor pollutants may not cause you any issues, but many can lead to allergies and breathing problems, particularly for people who already suffer from asthma. For others, the effects of indoor pollutants might include sore throat, headaches and fatigue. According to the EPA, consistent exposure to pollutants over years can lead to more serious conditions, like respiratory and heart disease.

Even if you are not suffering from any symptoms, wouldn’t you rather know that the indoor air you are breathing is cleaner?

One of the keys to cleaner indoor air is to use appliances that both remove and contain pollutants. Here are three appliances that are up to the task:

Room air cleaners: Allergists often recommend air cleaners as part of the treatment for allergies. Air cleaners filter common pollutants from the air, and models with HEPA filters are designed to remove 99.97% of airborne pollutants .3 microns and larger from air that passes through the filter. Air cleaners that participate in the AHAM Verifide® Program are tested for their Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), which tests and certifies the air cleaner’s ability to remove tobacco smoke, dust and pollen.

Powerful Portable or Central Vacuums: Vacuuming regularly is known to reduce household dust and allergens. For the greatest benefit, you can choose to use a powerful vacuum with a HEPA filter or an installed central vacuum consisting of a collection unit, often found in a garage or basement, and a series of inlets placed strategically throughout the house that work with a detachable or retractable hose.

Ventilation hoods: Cooking can release odors and certain pollutants in the air, including particulate matter. A ventilation hood can help remove many of those pollutants and vent them outside soon after they are released. The EPA also recommends opening windows and taking other steps to introduce fresh air into the home while cooking as a way to improve indoor air quality.

How an air cleaner can help you reduce allergy symptoms

A sick day already? But they just started school! You probably have seen your child’s symptoms before: stuffy nose, watery eyes, maybe a cough. It could be a common cold or virus they picked up from one of their classmates. Or, it could be an allergy, rearing its ugly head during one of the busiest times of the year.

If your child is not suffering from allergies this fall, the chances are high that some of their classmates are. Allergic conditions are the most common health issues among children, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

It may be tempting to attribute your child’s symptoms to “fall allergies,” but the cause may not necessarily be seasonal.

An allergy? To what?

“Roughly 20 percent of people, maybe a little higher in children, are allergic,” said James Sublett, M.D., a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and an allergist with Family Allergy & Asthma, Louisville, Ky.

Common triggers of respiratory symptoms include:

  • Seasonal allergens (ragweed, tree pollen)
  • Mold
  • Animal dander
  • Particulate matter
  • Dust mites

“School environments can have all of these things,” Sublett says. “You transport animal allergens on your clothing. Anything outside can come inside.”

Particulate matter can come from a number of sources, including vehicle emissions, indoor heating systems and various outdoor pollutants. Some of the smallest, known as PM 2.5 (named for its size of 2.5 microns and smaller), are known to cause allergy-like symptoms. PM 2.5 has become a greater concern in recent years as indoor air quality has received more attention, to the point that it is tracked as part of air quality reports. The EPA also monitors and reports national and regional PM 2.5 trends.

“Those small particles are a real problem,” Sublett says. “They cause the same symptoms. They can cause cough, wheezing and trigger asthma.”

What you can do to reduce and avoid allergens

Avoiding contact with allergens is a major aspect of managing symptoms. Both Sublett and Joshua Davidson, M.D., an allergist at HealthCare Partners Medical Group in Redondo Beach, Calif., regularly recommend room air cleaners to patients as a way to reduce allergy symptoms.

“I recommend them as a way not only to reduce symptoms, but also their need for medications,” Davidson says. “If they reduce their symptoms by a third, they may need a third less medication. That’s a big plus for families trying to avoid medication, especially for kids.”

The allergists generally recommend air cleaners that use HEPA filters, which are designed to remove 99.97% of all airborne pollutants .3 microns and larger that pass through the filter, including tobacco smoke, household dust and pollen.  “We recommend putting them primarily in the bedroom,” Sublett says. “That’s where a child spends most of their time. Get one that has an adequate CADR for the room.

CADR—Clean Air Delivery Rate—is the measurement produced by testing air cleaners that participate in the AHAM Verifide® Program. It shows the measurement of the air cleaner’s ability to filter three common indoor pollutants—pollen, tobacco smoke, and dust. The higher the number on the label, the faster the air cleaner removes the pollutants.

Before you buy, decide where the air cleaner will primarily be used. Measure the area of that room, and visit AHAM’s Directory of Certified Room Air Cleaners. This tool allows you to search for certified room air cleaners by room size or rating for tobacco smoke, dust and pollen. You might be tempted to buy one with more power than necessary, but that isn’t necessarily an advantage. You may end up with a model that uses too much energy or makes too much noise.

It’s important to use air cleaners consistently to reap maximum benefits. “I suggest running them continuously,” Davidson says. “Some families put them on at night. I often discuss, if they’re up for it, just turning them on and leaving them in the child’s bedroom.” Leaving the air cleaner on will prevent particles from settling while the air cleaner is off, Sublett said.

Sublett recommends positioning the air cleaner off of the floor so they’re running at least at the height of the bed. “We also recommend, as much as possible, having smooth surfaces in the bedroom.”

“Hay fever or allergic rhinitis can morph into asthma,” Davidson says. “You can see a progression of symptoms. With allergies, the impact can be pretty significant. I’ve seen significant days of missed work or school, and the secondary effects: job loss, not moving on in school, sleep disruption.”

Other steps

Regular vacuuming is also a key to removing allergens. A vacuum with a HEPA filter can remove more than 99 percent of allergens larger than .3 microns, including dust mites and pollen. And don’t limit your vacuuming to the floor. Upholstered furniture, mattresses and drapes can also harbor allergens and should be vacuumed as part of your regular cleaning routine. Washing clothes and bed linens in hot water will help kill and remove dust mites.

Use your ventilation hood when you cook, as cooking can sometimes generate particulate matter. Keep your windows closed and wash your hands regularly. Dehumidifiers and humidifiers can also be useful in the fight against seasonal allergies.

We hope this advice helps your student avoid those early year absences and keeps them on the path toward perfect attendance. Have a great school year!

Ask these questions before you hire an appliance repair technician

It’s the first day of school. You are rushing around, trying to get the kids ready and out the door on time. As you reach into your refrigerator to grab their lunches, you notice it feels warm inside. Your thermometer reads well above the recommended 37-40 degrees.

It is time to call a repair technician. This is one of those tasks that most people don’t think about until something goes wrong. However, a malfunctioning refrigerator, range or other major appliance that you depend on every day will push the repair to the top of your priority list.

Your appliance needs to be fixed. Today.

A quick internet search will likely turn up plenty of options for repair technicians. But while you’re anxious to put the repair behind you, you shouldn’t necessarily hire the first repair technician that pops up in your search. You could see a significant difference in cost and time if you take a few minutes to ask some important questions.

We picked the brains of three seasoned appliance technicians about what separates the great technicians from the good, and how you can make your choice.

The obvious place to start is online reviews, but read them carefully. “A consumer needs to look at a company’s reputation,” says Alex Hallmark, an instructor at the Ohio-based Fred’s Appliance Academy, which trains appliance technicians from across the U.S. and around the world. “Any company can put on social media or a website that they’re the best. What does everyone else think?” Look at the quantity of reviews as well as the quality, he suggests. “If one has 10 reviews and the other has 1,000, the quantity will show a trend.”

Now that you have narrowed down your choices, it’s time to get them on the phone and ask a few questions.

Are you familiar with my brand of appliance?

If you have looked at the repair technician’s website or advertisements, you may have seen the phrase “authorized service provider” for certain appliance brands. This indicates that the technician has received training specific to that brand. That is important, particularly as appliances incorporate more sophisticated electronics, says A.J. James, owner of Pegasus Appliance Service in Dallas, winner of the 2019 Most Professional Servicer Award from the Appliance Service Training Institute.

“A lot of companies do all brands,” James says. “The hard part of that is appliances are getting more computerized. The parts and computer boards are not just specific to the model, they’re specific to the model and the revision.”

What training have your technicians received?

There is no national certification for appliance technicians, but there are many private training programs. Ask if technicians have completed a specific training program or hold any certifications. Scott Brown, owner of Master Samurai Tech, an online appliance-training program based in Concord, N.H., says a certification indicated a technician made an effort to increase their knowledge. “Most customers aren’t looking at who gave the certification, just that [the technician] took that extra step to get certified. Some techs are just passing through [the field] and aren’t going to bother to get certified.”

Brown, who has an engineering background, recommends probing a bit deeper into the technicians’ knowledge of electronics. Over time, he has noticed that fewer technicians are able to read schematics, formerly a common skill, which can be important if a technician is confronted with an unfamiliar problem. “A lot of technicians tend to learn by pattern recognition—if this problem occurs on this particular model, replace this part, Brown says. “If that’s all you have, you aren’t going to be able to work on new models, because there is no pattern. There’s nothing wrong with pattern recognition—that’s what makes an experienced tech fast, but you don’t want to rely on that.”

What steps do the technicians take to protect your property and safety?

The thought of having a stranger in their home makes some consumers nervous. Simple steps like technicians wearing slipcovers over their shoes are important and show that they respect your home. “The days of coming in with a bucket and tracking muddy shoes are over,” Brown says. “Do they wear a uniform? Are they IDd? Do they come into the house and put on booties?”

Transparency can put a customer’s mind at ease, Hallmark says. “You’re a stranger coming into their home,” he says. “Do you have pictures of technicians on your site? Do you have reviews pertaining to that technician? We have reviews on our site broken down by city. It shares that we were on this street, at this time of day, we worked on this refrigerator and replaced this specific part.”

“The more you share about yourself, the more comfortable they will be letting you in.”

Ask if the company conducts background checks on their technicians. “We check for theft, identity fraud, and we check their driving record,” James says. “If they don’t have a background check, you’re letting someone in, for an extended period of time, and you’re taking a risk.”

What if something goes wrong?

Ask if a company is insured. “I am 100 percent covered in the house for any agent in any capacity through the company,” James says. “We have to make sure we’re properly insured so we protect our homeowners and employees.” Ask what guarantee the technician offers. “Every servicer should have a policy on their labor and parts,” James says. “We do 90 days on labor, and we follow the manufacturer’s suggested parts and warranty.

Finally, you should find out the company’s policy on return visits. “You’re paying for a professional diagnostic,” Brown says. “If you replace [a part], and it turns out that’s not the problem, how are you going to handle this with me? I want to know what their policy is. I don’t want guesswork or extra trips. One, and at most two trips, and the appliance is repaired.”

Sous vide your way through summer

When you think of essential tools for summer cooking, chances are your mind goes immediately to the charcoal or gas grill, a cool salad or a pot of boiling sweet corn. You probably do not think of a sous vide cooker, the increasingly popular portable appliance synonymous with steak, but quickly catching on as a versatile cooking tool for many food types.

Steak is a mainstay on many summer menus, and sous vide gained popularity among steak enthusiasts for offering precise, thorough cooking that can be hard to achieve with a grill or range. Sous vide can bring that same precision to other summer dishes while adding layers of flavor and convenience as you dine and snack your way through the dog days of summer.

Appliance manufacturers now offer an array of sous vide options, from small portable immersion cookers, to all-in-one units, to built-in sous vide features that are part of a range. And even though sous vide is becoming more popular, AHAM research shows that sous vide cookers are still only in 3 percent of U.S. homes according to 2017 AHAM consumer research. So, you’ll still probably look like you’re on the cutting edge of home cooking to your friends and family.

“It’s really a tool that can help the everyday home cook produce truly foolproof food,” says Molly Birnbaum, editor-in-chief of America’s Test Kitchen Kids and editor of the book “Sous Vide for Everybody: The Easy, Foolproof Cooking Technique That’s Sweeping the World.” “It’s a ‘set it and forget it’ cooking method.” Brinbaum, former executive editor of Cook’s Science at America’s Test Kitchen, didn’t start cooking sous vide until she edited the book, which includes recipes for everything from eggs and dairy to chicken and other meats. She offered some summertime suggestions for sous vide cooks who are looking to move beyond steak:

Asparagus: “Oftentimes, we overcook asparagus,” Birnbaum says. “Sous vide takes away the guesswork. She recommends setting the sous vide cooker at 180 degrees. Sous Vide Guy recommends adding olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook sous vide for 15 minutes, then remove and sear in a pan or grill for 1-2 minutes.

New England Lobster Roll: “It’s the quintessential summer food,” Birnbaum says. Cook sous vide at 140 degrees. Follow these tips from Serious Eats to prepare a lobster for sous vide cooking before you make the lobster roll.

Corn on the cob: “Corn on the cob is very easy,” Birnbaum says. “The sous vide cooking intensifies the flavor of the vegetables. Sous vide corn tastes more like corn than other cooking methods. You don’t lose any of the flavor in the water that is released while cooking.” Cook at 180-185 degrees with butter.

Summer beverages: You can also utilize sous vide to cook extra-flavorful summer beverages. Put berries or citrus fruits in the bag and cook around 140 degrees. This creates a concentrated fruit syrup you can add to drinks like a raspberry lime rickey or grapefruit Paloma (tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice), Birnbaum says.

If you are ready to dip your toe into the sous vide water bath (not literally) this summer, Birnbaum recommends choosing a cooker that keeps the steady temperature, circulates the water well, and has Wi-Fi capability. “Other than that, use quality plastic bags and be prepared to get a little time back in your life.”

What are your go-to sous vide summer recipes? Share them in the comment section!

The keys to an allergy-free home

If you are one of the millions of Americans that suffer from seasonal allergies, you know that the changes in weather bring a plethora of allergy symptoms. Although you can’t control the triggers outdoors, there are some things you can do indoors that can make a major difference.

According to the American Lung Association, Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, but for allergy sufferers, this doesn’t mean protection from pollen, dust, smoke and other allergy triggers that can make life less than enjoyable. Instead of simply living with the sneezing, congestion and itchiness, take some action and limit your exposure to allergy triggers.

Tips for limiting allergens in the home:

  • Keep windows closed and limit outdoor activities, especially when the pollen count is high.
  • Shower before you go to bed to help remove the allergens that may have collected on you or your clothes throughout the day.
  • Do not hang your laundry outside to dry as the items may collect pollen and other allergens. Use a dryer or hang the clothes inside instead.
  • Use an air cleaner to help clean the air in your home.

A good portable air cleaner is a great way to filter airborne particles and help you breathe ‒ and sleep ‒ easier. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air pollutant levels may be two to five times higher than outdoor pollutant levels, making an air cleaner a good idea for everyone, not just those with allergies.

Do you want a HEPA, ULPA or electrostatic filter? Does your filter have an ionizer? AHAM offers information on these sometimes-confusing terms and allows you to compare air cleaners at www.CADR.org. You can also compare certified air cleaners by Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), suggested room size, and brand name. All of those will help you find an air cleaner that is right for your home.

The CADR shows how quickly air cleaners filtered tobacco smoke, dust and pollen during testing. Higher ratings indicate a faster rate of cleaning. Once you have established the rate needed for your room size, you can weigh the importance of product features, such as noise levels and design.

Meatless Cooking for the Mainstream Eater

Are you a meat lover looking to incorporate more plants into your diet? Easy! Just replace that thick, juicy steak with some steamed tofu and brown rice.

What, that doesn’t sound good? It’s not the same? Is something missing?

If you haven’t checked in on the plant-based world recently, you’re in for a treat.  The new generation of plant-based “meats,” unlike the carrot/oatmeal/bean discs of the past, are burgers and other pre-made products that emulate the flavor, cooking experience and (finally!) texture of meat. Purveyors of the new veggie burgers are confident they can appeal to both those looking to go full-on vegetarian and meat-eaters who simply want to eat more plants. But don’t just take our word for it – within the next few years, you’ll be able to find faux meats everywhere from McDonald’s to Qdoba to, well, pretty much anywhere.

“Every month, it seems like new products are hitting the market,” said Kerry Song, owner of Abbot’s Butcher, a plant-based “butcher shop” in Los Angeles. Abbot’s Butcher sells three plant-based products: ground “beef,” “chorizo,” and chopped “chicken”. The products will soon be distributed nationwide.

“It’s really great to see what companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are doing for the category,” Song says. “Most [people seeking plant-based options] aren’t vegans or vegetarians, they’re flexitarians. We’re seeing that cultural shift toward plant-based eating. As it becomes more mainstream, people are going to start expecting the taste and texture.” A 2017 Nielsen survey found that 39% of Americans and 43% of Canadians are trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets.

Vegetarian or not, you aren’t going to eat burgers every day. So, the challenge for meat lovers, when you venture beyond faux-meats, is how to create the same level of taste and satisfaction with plant-based meals. As with preparing any meal, success starts with what you do in the kitchen. Abbot’s Butcher products have been incorporated into recipes like Bolognese, stuffed bell peppers, sloppy joes, burritos, hashes, and as pizza toppings, Song says.

“It’s showing people they don’t have to compromise when cooking at home,” Song says.

When it comes to transitioning to plants from meat, there are two schools of thought, says Justin Fox Burks who, along with his wife, Amy Lawrence, runs the food site The Chubby Vegetarian. There are the newer products like the Beyond Meat and Impossible burgers that provide a close approximation of meat, and there are recipes that will appeal to meat eaters, but aren’t necessarily trying imitate meat.

Based in meat-loving Memphis, Fox Burks and Lawrence have co-authored two vegetarian cookbooks, “The Chubby Vegetarian: 100 Inspired Vegetable Recipes for the Modern Table,” and “The Southern Vegetarian: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table.”

“The goal of this generation of plant-based meats is the idea you can cook them exactly like meats,” Fox Burks says. “You can put it in the griddle, it cooks the same amount of time, and rare, medium or well-done. They have plenty of fat in them, so they sizzle, they pop. They’re good ‘training wheels’ when you want to eat more vegetables. Then you start thinking about sweet potato steaks and wings made from cauliflower.”

“Texture is 100 percent of it, especially for vegetables,” Fox Burks says. “If you overcook a vegetable, you’re going to end up with mush. We try to give people interesting ways to cook vegetables so they’ll want to eat them.”

You can capture some of the meat-eating experience by preparing, and sometimes even cooking, vegetables in much the same way you would meat.

“If you take a vegetable and treat it like a piece of meat—dry rub, blacken, barbecue, smoke—you’re going to end up with a delicious vegetable in the end.”

How do you treat a vegetable like meat? Fox Burks and Lawrence love using their oven’s broiler to blacken carrots for “carrot dogs” or to roast red peppers. “We use the heck out of our microwave,” he says. “We love being able to show people how to cut a few corners, like microwaving potatoes for gnocchi, and there’s no better way to soften a tortilla.”

Lawrence recently re-introduced meat into her diet, which she says makes her a good test subject for plant-based recipes that emulate meat dishes. Recreating that experience comes down to texture, spices and cooking.

“You can work with mushrooms,” she says. “You can work with beans to get your protein. You can do a black bean burger. Mushrooms seem to be a good substitute for a lot of things, but mainly pork. It’s all in how you fix them, how you season them, and how you cook them.”

A good sear is essential for bringing out the crispness and flavor that meat lovers crave. Lawrence recommends searing it well, and adding a smoky element through spices, a sauce or a rub.

One of The Chubby Vegetarian’s more popular recipes is spaghetti squash barbecue ribs. “Roast them in the oven or cook them on the grill, slather them in barbecue sauce. They’re ridiculously good, and you’re doing all the processes. You add the smoke, the heat, the acid the salt, just like you would to pork.” If cured meats are your thing, try the pastrami-cured beets.

Some of the plant-based burger brands that have been common sights in grocery store freezers for years, like Boca, can be good substitutes for meat in stews and chili, says chef Jimmy Gentry, owner of PO Press Public House and Provisions and Paradox Catering in Collierville, Tenn.

When cooking vegetables at home and in his restaurants, Gentry often turns to his sous vide immersion cooker, marinating vegetables in the vacuum-sealed bags to add flavor. “When we’re cooking cauliflower, we’ll vacuum seal it with a pat of butter, a couple of sprigs of thyme, a clove of garlic and some lemon zest.” Cook it sous vide at 86 degrees C for about an hour. “We’ll char it in a sautee pan,” he says. “That gives it a little bit of color, a little bit of crunch on the edges, a little bit of char, but the inside is still perfect.”

Season your vegetables, using even more than you would on a piece of meat. Spices will help coax the flavor out of the vegetables, which often lack the natural flavor of meat.

If you’re used to eating meat, you might prefer denser vegetables. “A great example is a portabella mushroom,” says Camron Razavi, executive chef at Restaurant Iris, a fine-dining restaurant in Memphis. “Treat it like a burger or steak. Cauliflower is still popular. You can cook cauliflower steaks just like a piece of meat. You can roast them, bake them, braise them.”

Razavi, whose background is Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, often incorporates spices common in those cuisines, like cumin, coriander, turmeric, tarragon, and star anise, into his vegetarian dishes. He counts a grill pan on the stove top among his go-to cooking tools for preparing vegetables. “Take your time and make sure your pan or grill is really hot to get those nice grill marks or char on there.”

Razavi recently re-introduced meat back after following a vegan diet for a year, though his diet remains plant-based.

“There are so many alternatives now to anything you can think of,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you see something interesting, try it out.”

Cordless Appliances and Battery Safety

Do you use a cordless vacuum, robotic vacuum or cordless kitchen appliance? Eventually, you will have to replace your appliance’s rechargeable battery. And when that time comes, you’ll likely go online to look for the best deal.

While everyone wants to save money, that “good deal” on a replacement may cost you later. Just as they have with replacement refrigerator water filters, counterfeiters are now pushing fake replacement batteries onto the market.

Branded replacement batteries are made specifically to fit appliances of the same brand. A counterfeit may power the appliance at first, but they are not designed with the same circuitry as the genuine appliance replacement. Furthermore, they do not include the same safety features, putting you at risk for fire, injury, or property damage.

Fortunately, you can reduce your chances of ending up with a counterfeit replacement battery by purchasing replacement batteries only from the manufacturer of the appliance or other trusted source.

Safe use of appliance batteries goes beyond where you purchase them. Proper storage, transport and disposal is also important. Follow these tips from the Power Tool Institute’s Take Charge of Your Battery campaign:

  • Store lithium ion batteries away from liquids and metals, such as keys, coins, screws and nails.
  • Do not throw batteries away with the trash. Take them to a recycling center or dispose of them in a receptacle specifically designed for batteries.
  • Don’t use batteries that have been dropped or damaged. Contact the manufacturer to report the damage.

How to choose the best air cleaner for your home

How clean is the air you breathe?  It’s a question on many people’s minds as seasonal allergies wreak havoc on sinuses across the U.S. Several of your home appliances can help reduce pollen and pollutants in your home, but an air cleaner is your go-to product if you want to improve the quality of the air in your home.

Even if you don’t suffer from seasonal allergies, air cleaners can make your living space cleaner and more comfortable, and some models (those with carbon filters) can reduce odors.

How do air cleaners remove pollutants from your home’s air? It depends on the model. Some air cleaners use a combination of filters (HEPA and ULPA) and fans, electrostatic filters that clear the air by using static to attract particles, electrostatic precipitators that attract particles to a plate or grid, or ionization combined with other technologies. Many units also have pre-filters that trap larger particles.

On a given model, you might also find multiple features, including:

  • Multiple power settings
  • Oscillation, including some with multiple levels of oscillation
  • Sensors: Some air cleaners have the ability to sense the air quality and adjust the fan speed accordingly
  • WiFi capability

Some manufacturers are also incorporating robotics into air cleaners. Early models use sensors to monitor the air quality in different rooms so the robot can go where the air needs it most.

Make the right choice

With all of the models and features available, how do you choose the right air cleaner for your home? The most important detail to know is the size of the room in which the air cleaner will primarily be used. Look for the AHAM Verifide® label, which will show the air cleaner’s Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) and suggested room size.

CADR is a measurement of how fast an air cleaner filters three commonly sized particulates: dust, pollen and tobacco. The higher the number on the label, the faster the air cleaner filters the air. However, don’t just choose the air cleaner with the highest numbers. You might end up with one that is too large for the room, leading to unnecessary energy use and noise. A too-small model may not get the job done. Follow the 2/3 rule, and choose an air cleaner with a tobacco smoke rating that is two-thirds the size of the room’s area. That means a room that is 200 square feet, would require an air cleaner with a CADR for tobacco smoke of at least 132.

CADR also gives you a way to choose an air cleaner based on your air cleaning needs. If you live in an area with a high pollen count, consider air cleaners with higher ratings for filtering pollen. If dust is an issue, pay closer attention to the unit’s rating for dust.

CADR is a recognized performance testing program where air cleaners are randomly selected and tested at an independent laboratory using the American National Standard, known as ANSI/AHAM-AC-1.

You will find the AHAM Verifide® label with the CADR ratings on the product packaging. However, you do not have to spend hours browsing units on shelves. You can compare AHAM-certified air cleaners through AHAM’s searchable directory. Search models by certified CADR ratings, suggested room size, manufacturer and brand name.

After purchasing 

Now that you have an air cleaner that is right for your home, it is time to maximize its air cleaning potential. 

Position it properly:  Air cleaners work best when they’re put in a place that allows them to filter as much air as possible. Certain air cleaners, depending on the design, aren’t as effective if placed in the corner of a room. Place the air cleaner closer to the center of the room, away from anything that may block or obstruct the air flow.

Clean it regularly: This applies to both units with filters and those that use electrostatic precipitators. Change the filter according the recommendations in the appliance’s use and care manual. If you use the air cleaner frequently or in areas with higher levels of pollutants (like where the pets hang out), you likely will need to change it more often. Precipitators also need to be cleaned regularly. A drop in performance may signal that it’s time to change the filter or clean the precipitator.

Use your other appliances: Vacuums, central vacuums, clothes washers and dryers, air conditioners and dehumidifiers are all part of the equation to keep the allergens in check in your home.

6 Ways You Can Reduce and Remove Allergens in Your Home

Spring’s warm breezes, blooming gardens and milder weather are welcome. The allergies that often come with them? Not so much. But don’t let the threat of seasonal sneezes cool your spring fever. Here are six ways you can use your appliances to reduce and remove allergens from the air, floor and furniture in your home:

Wash it out: Pollen doesn’t just spread by air. It also attaches to your clothing, and your clothes washer can help remove it before it becomes airborne again, this time in your home. Washing your bed linens regularly in hot water can also kill dust mites, another common source of allergies.  Also, don’t underestimate the build-up of allergens in your hair from spending time outdoors.  Be sure that you wash your hair frequently during allergy season.

Dry your laundry indoors: You have just washed the pollen out of your clothes. Using a clothes dryer over an outdoor clothesline will help keep it off. Line-dried laundry and linens can pick up pollen or other allergens while outdoors and bring them back into your home.

Vacuum everything: Pollen and allergens can end up just about everywhere—carpets, rugs, hard surfaces, furniture, drapes, and mattresses. Vacuum all of them to remove as much of the allergens as possible. A portable vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter has the capability to remove more than 99 percent of allergens with particles larger than .3 microns. That includes pollen and dust mites. If you are using a portable vacuum that requires a bag, use micro-lined, two-ply vacuum bags to stop the allergens from being kicked back into the air while vacuuming. Central vacuums capture dirt and pollutants that are carried through a home’s exhaust system to a central container. In most cases, they are installed in a garage or basement, and don’t require a HEPA filter to remove allergens.

Clear the air: Like vacuums, many models of room air cleaners also use HEPA filters to filter allergens and other pollutants from the air. In fact, a HEPA filter can help reduce pollutants in the air by up to 50 percent, though that depends on  how the unit operates. Look for the unit’s Clean Air Delivery Rate, which notes the suggested room size for an air cleaner and is the most helpful metric for comparing air cleaner performance. Not sure where to start?  Visit AHAMVerifide.org for more about how to choose the proper air cleaner for your room. Change the air cleaner’s filter regularly and position your air cleaner near the center of the room, away from walls, to maximize airflow and performance.

Cool the air: When the temperatures warm up, keep the windows closed and the AC on. Air conditioners don’t just cool the air, they contain filters that can help remove allergens.

Keep the indoor humidity in check: Dust mites aren’t seasonal, but they tend to thrive in humidity A dehumidifier may make it tougher for the mites to survive.

AHAM’s Top 5 Posts of 2018

Let’s take a moment to revisit our most-read posts from 2018 while the year is still fresh in everyone’s mind. We covered a wide range of topics, from pet safety to counterfeit water filters. That variety is evident in our top posts of the year.

We are grateful to our readers – thank you for taking the time to click, read and share our content last year! Without further ado, here are your favorite pieces from 2018.

Is your water filter counterfeit? Keep your family safe – learn to spot the signs of counterfeit water filters.

Looking for fall allergy relief? Your humidifier or dehumidifier could help! Air cleaning products are more popular now than ever – learn how they can help ease allergy suffering year-round.

Cool Off with a Room Air Conditioner – Readers turned to AHAM’s expertise this summer for help with choosing the right air conditioner.

Tips to improve and maximize air cleaner performance – Make sure you’re getting the most from your air cleaner with these tips.

5 questions to ask before buying a used appliance – These key questions will make you an informed buyer.