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COVID-19 Safe Air Conditioning Use Guidelines for Summer
It’s getting pretty hot outside, isn’t it?
“Global warming” is easy to understand but harder to endure. The fact is, most of the greater Ontario area has been under repeated heat warnings for more than a month now.
The heat doesn’t seem like it plans to go anywhere anytime soon, either, prompting one journalist to wax poetic and call these the “lazy, hazy, crazy days” of summer.
This wouldn’t be quite so big of an issue if everyone in the province had ready access to air conditioning. Plus, some people who do have A/C available are choosing not to use it because of fears over airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
This is why we devote this week’s blog post to a carefully curated list of safe air conditioning use guidelines for this summer. And if you don’t have A/C and are ready to take the plunge, be sure to read through to the end of this post for a sweet summer special!
How Far Can COVID-19 Spread Through the Air?
This appears to be summer 2020’s million-dollar question.
Here is what we do know for sure:
Viral droplets can definitely spread as far as at least 1 meter by air, which accounts for the current social distancing guidelines (to stay 2 meters apart).
Here is what we do NOT know for sure:
Could the natural process of evaporation cause initially large and heavy coronavirus droplets to get lighter and travel longer distances via air currents?
Several health agencies, scientific researchers and infectious disease experts are now issuing cautious "maybes."
Several studies have now been commissioned to investigate this question actually.
Alberta Innovates and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) recently issued a grant for a whopping $444,000 to University of Alberta researchers to study how to prevent airborne COVID-19 droplets from transmitting in high-occupancy spaces.
And Public Health Ontario has requested help from The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) to research the role of air conditioning in transmitting COVID-19.
All that to say, it is possible, and quite likely, that air currents, such as those generated by fans, blowers and HVAC units can play a role in the transmission of COVID-19.
This is what we know right now. When new information is announced, you can be sure we will be the first to update you here!
Shipton’s Safe Summer Air Conditioning Use Guidelines
We get that it can feel scary to turn on your air conditioner and not know what, if any, role it may play in causing illness to your family; however, in light of the unprecedented series of heat waves we are experiencing, it is equally unsafe to not use your air conditioner right now, especially if you have pets, children or elders in your household.
Until we know more, it is still safer to use your A/C in order to stay cool than it is to swelter in hopes of reducing the risk of COVID.
So, here are our guidelines on how to use your air conditioning this summer in a way that is as safe as possible.
1. Avoid the “3 Cs” all summer long.
The “3 Cs” are “crowded spaces,” “closed spaces” and “close contact.”
In other words, practice safe social distancing and steer clear of any space which is likely to be crowded or have poor ventilation (i.e. no fresh air to diffuse coronavirus droplets).
This is your best bet for making sure you don’t come in contact with COVID-19 while you are out and then bring the virus home with you.
2. Keep your HVAC air filter clean.
We just published a post featuring our recommendations on how to change your air filter safely.
It is very important to keep your air filter clean! Not only will this reduce your home fire risk, but it will also reduce the burden on your immune system of toxic indoor air.
If you do not feel comfortable changing out your own air filter, our technicians are happy to take care of this service for you.
3. Keep your floor and ceiling fans clean.
Using floor fans and ceiling fans is a great way to save energy, save money and stay cool. Fans work using the “wind chill effect” to create more air flow and help you feel cooler.
In fact, Energy Star states that simply turning on a fan will allow you to raise your thermostat by four degrees with no loss of cool comfort! This is how you can trim up to 14 percent off your summer energy bills.
You do, however, want to make sure that you are keeping your fans clean. Accumulated dust and dirt on fan blades will reintroduce toxins and allergens into your indoor air, burdening your immune system at a time when it needs to be in tip-top shape to keep you safe from COVID-19.
4. Invest in additional air filtration and purification.
This same technology is now available for residential and commercial business use. Shipton’s has both whole-home and portable models available.
If someone in your family is especially vulnerable, using these two air quality tools represents the best way to protect them.
Upgrade Your A/C and Pay It Forward with Shipton’s Summer of Giving
Right now, when you purchase any air conditioner, furnace or combo unit, Shipton’s will donate $25 to the Hamilton Food Share in support of individuals and families hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Click HERE to upgrade your HVAC and pay it forward to help others.
Get In Touch With Shipton's Technicians
HVAC, electrical and plumbing have all been deemed essential services during the stay at home order here in Ontario province.