Indoor air quality (IAQ) is very much on the minds of consumers, whose knowledge and information is expanding well beyond the mold panic of the last few years. Relatively expensive room air cleaners have been helping to expand consumer awareness too, through aggressive advertising campaigns.

HVAC contractors, however, have the opportunity to provide much more service and information on IAQ. You can explain that products like those room air cleaners are Band-Aid solutions at best.

IAQ is much more than air cleaning. The building's entire HVAC system can aid in improving all aspects of air quality - temperature, humidity, air distribution, cleaning, and control. (Our upcoming Tech Tips will look into these subjects in more detail.)

Temperature. What are the biggest comfort complaints you are likely to hear from a home or business owner? It has got to be the "too hot/too cold" comment. The ability to control temperature at a comfortable level, using equipment they are comfortable operating, is a key component of perceived air quality.

Humidity. Moisture has been pegged as a culprit of many IAQ problems, from mold that develops from too-wet conditions, to sinus problems that may result from too-dry conditions.

The HVAC system isn't necessarily the cause of moisture problems, although condensation, outside air incursion, and over-dried air may need to be ruled out. The HVAC system can definitely be part of the solution, especially with some of today's humidity-specific products - thermostats that include humidity control, for example, and whole-house humidifiers.

Air distribution. The quality of the building's ductwork is critical to the delivery of conditioned air to a room or zone. Damper operation, leaks, and other potential problems may need to be diagnosed and corrected. This means operational savings and improved IAQ for the customer, and increased service profits for you if go after this market the smart way.

Air cleaning. Home and business owners are starting to realize that the disposable filters on their HVAC system do not clean the air as well as they might like. There are many air cleaning options available today, from higher-efficiency furnace filters to electronic air cleaners and UV lights.

Variable-speed blower motors play a critical role in helping some of these cleaning devices reach their full potential. By keeping the air moving at a lower speed, more air passes through the cleaning/purification devices.

The installed cost may be higher than the portable air cleaners seen on TV, but the operational costs are much lower ... and the IAQ is improved in the whole house, not just one or two rooms!

For more information, click on the Emerson Climate Technologies logo above.