Wildfire Smoke Is Everywhere. Not All Filters Are Alike. By Debbie Carlson

As wildfire smoke intermittently plagues swaths of the U.S., a whole-house air filtration system makes sense for more Americans. Poor air quality isn’t just a problem for people with lung issues such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it affects many healthy individuals.

Dr. Juanita Mora, an allergist and immunologist and spokesperson for the AmericanLung Association, treated normally healthy people with swollen and inflamed airways—conditions seen in asthma patients—at her Chicago practice during the worst of the Canadian wildfire smoke. It reinforced her thoughts that indoor air quality matters for all.

“Everyone should have a good filtration system in the house,” she says. If you have a central heating/cooling system, adding a whole-house air filtration system is the most efficient and cost-effective way to treat the air for many pollutants throughout the home. Ray Grimm, CEO of Air.Water.Energy, in suburban Chicago, who has installed HVAC systems for nearly 40 years, says whole-house air filtration systems will clean air better and more effectively than traditional one-inch furnace filters used on HVAC systems. Grimm says there needs to be at least six inches between the furnace and the air return ductwork to install a system, so homeowners may need space around the HVAC unit to add additional ductwork.

There are different types of filtration systems. The first uses thicker, pleated furnace filters, five inches deep or more. Called media filters, they trap more pollutants and last at least a year without needing to be changed. Depending on where the homeowner lives, these units start around $500 installed, Grimm says. Costs for high efficiency media filters start around $50.

The second system uses an electronic filter, which is also incorporated into the ductwork, Grimm says. These aluminum filters treat the air by using an electric charge to grab pollutants. However, some may produce small amounts of ozone, which can be a lung irritant. These can cost about $1,500 or more installed. Those filters don’t need to be changed, but must be cleaned periodically.

Homeowners who don’t have the space for the additional ductwork on their HVAC units should use high efficiency air filters in their traditional air filter slots. Change these between 60 and 90 days or sooner, and check after poor air quality days to see if they are dirty. Look for the highest MERV rating your system can handle, the most common rating system for HVAC filters.

MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting values, a rating developed by American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers that measures a filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns. A MERV rating of 13 is a high efficiency filter, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. These cost around $15.

While higher-rated MERV filter traps more pollutants, don’t buy filters that exceed the furnace manufacturer’s recommendation, Grimm says. Doing so can damage your HVAC unit by causing the blower to work too hard to force air through a tightly woven filter.

Consider an air purifier

If you don’t have an HVAC system, consider a portable room air purifier. Until recently,
these were considered unnecessary for most healthy individuals, but Mora says climate
change has changed the dynamics of air quality. “It’s changing the way we’re seeing
things, and the clinical effects of it,” she says.

Tanya Christian, home and appliances writer for Consumer Reports, says the tests the organization runs in its labs show they decrease air pollutants. If you’re considering
one of these, look for a unit with a large internal fan which will draw out pollutants more quickly, Christian says. Purifiers come in different sizes, so buy one that is sized for the room’s square footage. Many air purifiers have a CADR rating, the clean air delivery rate, which measures how fast a machine cleans the air. Pay attention to a purifier’s smoke rating, too, she adds.

Portable purifiers work best when they are constantly on, and newer machines will have an auto mode which will normally run at low speed until it detects more pollutants, she says. Prices for Consumer Reports’ top-rated models start around $150 and go to about $750. The high-efficiency and HEPA filters for portable units can cost about $60 or more and need to be changed about twice annually. Christian says during the worst of the wildfire pollution on the East Coast she used an air purifier to rid her home of smoke after a window was accidentally left open. “It’s very
obvious they work,” she says.

A.W.E Helps IL Homeowners Prepare for New Energy Efficiency Standards

The US Department of Energy sets energy efficiency requirements for homes and HVAC systems, and in January of 2023, they’re coming out with new standards that will affect the heating and air conditioning systems in homes all over the United States. Its important for HVAC contractors to understand the new standards, but it’s also important for homeowners.

In Illinois, A.W.E. Air Water Energy, is the trusted contractor for HVAC systems, and we want our customers to understand what they’re facing in 2023 when it comes to energy standards in the HVAC industry.

New Energy Efficiency Standards for 2023

The DOE’s new standards for residential HVAC systems have called for a approximately 7% increase in the energy efficiency for every new air conditioning unit and heating unit. This means that new HVAC systems installed on residential homes need to be made more efficient by the manufacturer, and the professionals who install and service them need to only carry and use these more efficient parts. The test procedures that determine the efficiency rate of a central air conditioner or heater will also be measured by new metrics.

In short, trusted local HVAC contractors like A.W.E. Air Water Energy will install new, more energy efficient central air conditioning units and heaters and use more efficient parts when repairing HVAC units.

Advantages of Higher Efficiency HVAC Systems

Though it may sound like these new standards will cause delays or problems with HVAC upgrades, the new efficiency of heating and air conditioning units will benefit homeowners. The benefits of higher energy efficient units include increased comfort inside the home at a lowered cost, leading to savings on utilities. Many of these new, more efficient units will also come with high end features to put you in control of the comfort of your home.

Trust Air.Water.Energy to keep your HVAC system up to national energy efficiency standards.

At AWE, heating and air conditioning is our business, so we understand all the ins and out of these changing national standards for energy efficiency. We’ll make sure to communicate effectively with our valued clients so that they understand the benefits and features of all the HVAC products they install.

If you need help from knowledgeable HVAC experts who care about their customers, call A.W.E. Air Water Energy right away!

Air Conditioning Maintenance in Bartlett IL

AirWaterEnergy (AWE) is the trusted heating and air conditioning company in DuPage County and the surrounding areas because we treat all our Illinois clients like family. We make sure your HVAC systems are in great shape year round so your family is comfortable and protected from allergens and fire hazards. One of the best ways to do this is with annual air conditioning maintenance.

We recently contacted one of our valued MVP members in Bartlett IL for annual air conditioning maintenance. HVAC is especially important in the spring when the weather is changing. Your air conditioning has sat unused for months while you use heating instead, so dust and debris can build up in filters, inside the unit, and in your ducting, so it’s vital to get your system cleaned before you start running your AC in the summer. Even if your HVAC systems aren’t making noise or producing smells, there could still be problems with the system that are affecting your family.

We were able to get one of our licensed HVAC techs out to our Bartlett IL client’s home quickly to perform a thorough inspection of their system. The tech did a thorough cleaning of the unit, including all filters, sensors, and drainage systems. It’s vital to get your AC cleaned to remove allergens and keep the system running efficiently. A well-maintained HVAC unit will save you money on energy costs as well as create a comfortable indoor environment.

Contact AWE today to learn more about our HVAC maintenance services to protect your home.

Furnace Maintenance in Carol Stream IL

In Carol Stream IL, A.W.E. Air Water Energy is the leading air conditioning and heating contractor because we take care of all of our clients. To do this, we have a Member Value Program that takes the guesswork out of keeping your home’s interior healthy and comfortable year round.

Recently it came time for us to inspect the furnace system for one of our Carol Stream IL MVP members. We called them and scheduled a their furnace inspection. It’s important to get your heating and air conditioning systems inspected yearly at the very least, but twice a year is optimal to keep you home’s indoor air quality at optimal levels. It’s especially important to get your furnace inspected and cleaned in the springtime, after it’s been in heavy use all through the colder months.

One of our professional HVAC techs got out to our valued Carol Stream client’s home on their schedule. After a thorough inspection and carbon monoxide test, we found that their furnace needed a cleaning, which removes all soot and debris. We cleaned the filter, flame sensors, and burners, as well as flushed the drain lines to make sure the were clear. It’s vital to have a clean filter in your heating unit because a dirty filter can not only circulate dust and debris throughout the HVAC system, but a buildup of dirt on your filter can also cause fires!

Air.Water.Energy. is concerned with keeping our Illinois clients safe, so we’re diligent about scheduling regular furnace inspections and cleanings. You want to protect your family from allergens and hazards, and so do we. Contact us right away to find out how we can protect your home and make your life more comfortable.

Best of Carol Stream award…

Have you heard? A.W.E. was selected as Best of Carol Stream! This program was created to honor the achievements and positive contributions of businesses in and around Carol Stream. We couldn’t be more grateful and honored to have been selected. A big thank you to our clients, who are our greatest asset!

Dealing With Dirty Air Filters During the COVID-19 Pandemic

If face masks protect the air that humans breathe, air filters are certainly the face masks of the HVAC realm — clearing particles from the airstream that a building “breathes” and transmits to those within. While there may not be a run on air filters the way there is on face masks, contractors and manufacturers alike report increased interest from their clients in IAQ since the outbreak of COVID-19.

“The historic event in which we now find ourselves with the COVID-19 pandemic has caused renewed awareness of just how important healthy air is inside our homes and elsewhere,” said Paige Freeland, marketing manager at General Filters. “In light of this, we anticipate sales of all indoor air products to increase.”

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COVID-19: Your Health & Comfort Matter Most | Lennox


We’re living in uniquely challenging times and we know you’re doing all you can to care for yourself and your family during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As an essential business, Lennox is ready to assist homeowners like you across the country. If you find yourself needing immediate repairs, contact your local Lennox dealer. We’re doing all we can to support our dealer partners during this time as they continue performing these important services. 

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2018 Top 40 Under 40 HVACR Professionals

Sometimes, it’s easy in life to lament what you don’t have rather than celebrate what you do have. This is true in the HVACR industry, too, where you often hear about the graying of the workforce.

Nevertheless, it is a reality. The average age of someone working in the industry is north of 50. Of course, that is not all bad. The older generation has a lot to offer with regard to knowledge, work ethic, and other similar qualities.
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Dehumidifier Recall

There has been a recall on a popular model of Dehumidifier. Please see the following information that was published on Aprilaire website.

Portable Dehumidifier Recall: Is there a fire hazard in your basement?

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled 5.6 million dehumidifiers in two nationwide recalls due to a potential fire hazard. The dehumidifier recall includes over 60 different brands of retail dehumidifiers built over a 10-year period.

Recent media coverage shows just how real the concerns are. Hundreds of units have caught fire and resulted in $24 million in damages to homes, according to news reports. If you have a portable dehumidifier in your home, you need to make sure it’s safe.


What Should I Do?

Unplug your dehumidifier and check the brand. Next, check the links below to see if your dehumidifier is impacted by either the 2013 or 2016 recall. After confirming your brand is in the recall, check the model number and serial number of your specific appliance. If your dehumidifier is in the recall, follow the instructions on the website for a refund or return.

Naperville Heating System Provides Luxury

Not long ago, Air Water Energy was contacted by a Naperville senior account manager. The senior account manager wanted to heat his bathroom floors, so he needed a comprehensive Naperville heating system, and he didn’t look any farther than the HVAC company he trusted the most, Air Water Energy.

The professionals here with AWE met with the homeowner and he showed us his bathroom. The homeowner informed the team that he had just had his bathroom remodeled a couple of months ago, and with winter approaching he wanted to have the floors of the bathroom pleasantly warmed. This would ensure that when his family members got out of the shower their feet would be toasty warm.

The team started installing the heating system and by the end of the day, the heating system was installed and a success. The Naperville homeowner contacted us today just to let us know that he is so happy with the heating system in his bathroom floors. He said he didn’t think he would notice a difference, but the floors are warm and cozy. He just called to thank AWE Air Water Energy for providing him with an excellent heating system Naperville homeowners can trust and rely upon.

The AWE Air Water Energy Company has been his personal company that he has depended on for all his heating and cooling needs, and we have never let him down one bit. We were pleased that we have met this customer’s expectations and provided him with the quality services that we are known for.