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Air Purifier Buying Guide

air purifiers

Today's energy-efficient homes tend to be air tight, staying warm during the winter and cool during the summer.  Unfortunately, the house isn't allowed to breathe and open windows are not always a good option. Air purifiers are designed to bring that touch of fresh air indoors.

Air Pollutants and Allergens in the Home

Air pollution remains an environmental concern throughout the world. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution levels can be up to five times higher than pollution levels outdoors. An air purifier can help you deal with tobacco smoke, pollen, animal dander, mold, mildew and other irritants and pollutants. Asthma and allergy sufferers can benefit from cleaner air, and we can all benefit from fewer irritating airborne particles, smells and microorganisms.

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Air Purifier Size

The most important thing to look for when you buy an air purifier is the correct size for your room. Air purifiers are portable and can be moved from one room to another, provided the rooms are similar in size.

To make the best choice, learn what CADR means. The Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) seal program was developed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) to help consumers choose air purifiers. CADR is based on the cubic feet of air a purifier can filter per minute. The higher the CADR number the faster the unit cleans the room's air. Purifiers with the CADR seal remove tobacco smoke particles, animal dander, mold, mildew, dust and pollen particles. Use the following formula to decide which CADR is correct for your room:
Square footage x .75 = CADR

If your room is 16 feet by 17 feet, which equals 272 square feet, you'll need an air purifier that has a CADR of at least 204. 272 x .75 = 204
If an air purifier isn't available with the exact CADR you calculate, round up. For instance, if your room size requires a CADR of 204, purchase one with a CADR of 220.

If you have a room with ceilings higher than 8 feet, move up to the next level CADR for a larger room. If you have an open floor plan, purchase two small units. The units can be moved to different areas in the room, cleaning the air more efficiently than one unit.

Air Purifier Features

Different brands of air purifiers have different features. Here are some additional features to look for:

  • High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters remove 99.97% of air pollutants .3 microns or larger from the air. HEPA filters also remove tobacco smoke, household dust, mold spores, animal dander and pollen.
  • UV-C sanitizer is an ultraviolet light that kills bacteria and eliminates household odors caused by pets, smoke and food preparation. 
  • Frequency of filtering cycles (average every 10 minutes) can vary between models.
  • Check filter control is available on some models.
  • Speed controls for times when filtering needs vary.

Things to Remember

  • Shop for a unit with reduced noise level for use in living rooms and bedrooms.
  • Clean or replace filters regularly for maximum efficiency. Follow the instructions in the owner’s manual. 
  • Refer to the owner’s manual for the proper placement in the room where the air purifier is used. 
  • Help improve your indoor air by regular vacuuming and cleaning of textiles (such as draperies). Use a vacuum with an air filtration feature. 
  • Reduce or eliminate possible irritants, such as smoke, candles, and scented fresheners and cleaners.  
  • Change your household heating and cooling filters as directed.
While using an air purifier does improve air quality, this alone is no guarantee to improve the health of asthma or allergy sufferers. Always seek and follow professional medical advice.