According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, about 10% of the Australian population have asthma. If you are one of the more than two million Australians who suffer from the chronic condition, you'll know that asthma triggers can be found everywhere. A key part of living in an asthma-friendly home is to maintain the circulation of fresh air, but during Australia's long, hot summers, it can be difficult to resist the urge to shut all the windows and keep the air conditioner running all day. Read on for tips on keeping your air conditioner asthma-friendly.
1. Choose reverse-cycle, not evaporative
High levels of humidity, above 50%, can act as an asthma trigger. The Asthma Foundation of Victoria recommends that asthmatics avoid using evaporative air conditioners because these cooling systems work to increase the humidity level inside the home, potentially triggering asthma symptoms in sufferers. Instead, the foundation suggests asthmatics opt for reverse-cycle air conditioners. These systems work to reduce humidity levels, and have the added benefit of allowing temperature to be adjusted, which can assist those with temperature-induced asthma.
2. Attach a HEPA filter to your air conditioner
High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters improve air quality by trapping airborne allergens, such as mould spores and pollen, preventing them from entering the home. This can help reduce the incidence of hayfever, which is closely linked to asthma. Attaching a HEPA filter to your air conditioner can be more effective than buying a free-standing air filter, as air conditioners typically cover several rooms, or even an entire house.
3. Keep your air conditioning system clean
To keep your air conditioner working properly, and also to ensure that its filter is trapping as many airborne allergens as possible, it is important to regularly clean and service your system. The filter should be checked at least once a month, and if it is dirty, use soapy water and a brush to clean it. Ensure that you follow the system manufacturer's suggested schedule for servicing, as a reverse-cycle air conditioner that has not been serviced may have very little effect on your home's humidity.
4. Allow air to flow freely through your home
Air conditioners may cool down one room more quickly than they might a whole house, but for asthmatics, it is important to keep doors between rooms open to allow air circulation throughout the home. Don't be tempted to keep the doors to the room where your air conditioner sits closed. Mould is a significant asthma trigger for many people, and the best way to keep mould from growing is to keep the air flowing.