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Closing Up For Winter - 5 Strategies For Surviving Indoor Allergens

National Allergy Contest Winner Welcome to the October edition of the National Allergy Educational E-Mail Series. This month, I'm going to discuss Closing Up For Winter - 5 Strategies For Surviving Indoor Allergens. You've heard of Sick Building Syndrome where the closed-in, allergen-rich environment of offices and schools has made people sick. Well, during the colder months, our homes can have the same problem - being closed up with low circulation, moisture concerns and lots of places for dust mites to hide. As you prepare for cooler weather, concentrate on these often simple tasks for creating a healthier, more energy efficient home environment.
  1. Replace Or Clean Your Furnace Filter
  2. Change The Filters In Room Air Cleaners
  3. Prevent Condensation & Energy Loss
  4. Maintain Low Relative Humidity
  5. Be Careful When Unpacking Winter Storage
And don't forget to check out this month's Exclusive Offers.

If you're new to the newsletter or you'd like to reread any of our newsletters, visit our newsletter archive. Remember, at the beginning of each month we give away an Austin Air HM-400 Air Purifier, valued at $449.99, to one lucky subscriber. So tell your friends and family to sign up, and be ready for an e-mail or call from me if you're selected as our winner! Click here for a list of previous winners. National Allergy October Coupon


Katie Weaver
& The National Allergy Newsletter Team

National Allergy E-Mail Newsletter

Closing Up For Winter - 5 Strategies For Surviving Indoor Allergens

1. Replace Or Clean Your Furnace Filter

A good furnace filter can capture both nuisance particles and allergens. For best results, if you have a standard 1-inch disposable filter, you should replace it every 3 months. We highly recommend the 3M Filtrete Ultra filters for their efficient removal of allergens. Any disposable furnace filter should have a MERV rating of 11 or higher to be an effective filter. If you have a permanent electrostatic filter, this is a good time to remove and clean it so there is no restriction of airflow as you head toward winter.

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2. Change The Filters In Room Air Cleaners

Let's face it, we don't all follow the manufacturer's recommendations for changing the filters in our room air purifiers. But the truth is that when the pre- and main filters are not changed at the recommended intervals, you are not benefiting from the cleanest air you could be breathing. In addition, you could be endangering the life of your air purifier's motor.

The HEPA filter is the most important part of your machine. When this pleated, high-efficiency filter is properly maintained, it captures 99.97% of particles down to .3 microns - that's just about EVERY allergen. Most air purifiers, like Whirlpool, IQAir and older Honeywell models recommend changing the HEPA filter every 1-3 years. More recent Honeywell machines come with permanent filters, so if you have one of these, this month is probably a good time to vacuum your filter using a sealed HEPA vacuum (so you don't release the particles your filter has trapped back into the air).

An air purifier's pre-filter traps large particles, dust bunnies and some odors. A clogged pre-filter can really restrict the airflow of your purifier. Most are to be changed every 3-4 months, depending on usage. Austin Air pre-filters need only to be vacuumed for long-life use.

Recommended Products: **Remember, our subscriber special this edition lets you save 10% on purifier replacement filters for models such as Austin Air, Whirlpool, Honeywell, IQAir, Vornado, Amaircare, as well as the Soleus 70-Pint Portable Dehumidifier.

3. Prevent Condensation & Energy Loss

Homes in colder climates are particularly prone to condensation during winter months. Condensation can give way to mildew around door and window frames, and for many this is an irritating allergen that should be prevented if possible. Condensation happens when air with high relative humidity hits a cold window surface. The two ways to avoid this problem are to either lower the relative humidity of the house, or raise the temperature of the window.

I'll talk about lowering relative humidity in a moment, but one way to increase a window's temperature and efficiency is to seal it. Also called weather-stripping (more commonly when it's done on doors), sealing windows can be accomplished with self-stick foam, available at most home improvement stores. Plastic window insulator kits are also available - be sure to wrap the plastic all the way around the frame of the window or door, then remove it in the spring.

Sliding windows can be a particular problem, especially when the tracks are aluminum, which transfers cold from the outside and forms condensation in the tracks. The same way you inspect and clean sliding shower doors to avoid mold and mildew, you should be careful about sliding doors and windows around the house that gather moisture.

Fall is also a good time to check under sinks, behind the refrigerator or hot-water heater for leaks. Any persistent leaking can be a recipe for mold growth and allergy irritation. While you're looking, make sure all your piping is insulated properly to prevent breakage due to freezing during the winter.

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4. Maintain Low Relative Humidity

Home builders and window professionals agree that keeping your home's humidity low is a good way to prevent condensation. Like many allergy physicians, National Allergy also recommends keeping low home humidity in order to keep mold and dust mites in check.

Soleus Room Dehumidifiers While fall and early winter means drier, crisper air, for Georgia it also means a significant amount of rain. Even now, the thunder is rumbling outside our office building, and our friends along the southern coastal areas are still dealing with tropical storm threats. Home humidity control is a major tactic in any allergen-avoidance strategy all year round. Experts say that the relative humidity in your home should range between 40- 50%. Humidity control is easy to overlook in cooler months, but consider that we keep our homes at higher temperatures and spend more time indoors. Both situations mean more propensity for dust mites who feed on our dead skin cells and love warm environments. Keeping low relative humidity in your home is one way to prevent dust mites and mold spores from finding as many places to thrive.

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5. Be Careful When Unpacking Your Winter Storage

If you're like me, you have several big plastic containers in your attic or basement filled with sweaters, sweat pants, heavy socks, blankets and other items that haven't seen the light of day since March or April. I highly recommend cleaning (or dry-cleaning) these items before adding them back onto the bed or into the closet, especially if you did not wash them before packing up in the spring. These items could give you the sniffles in no time. Take care of dust mites and other allergens with hot-water washing, or by using an anti-allergen additive or detergent. You can also use an anti-allergen home spray if you don't have time to get that sweater or blanket dry-cleaned.

De-Mite Laundry Additive Regardless of what you are packing or unpacking, if you are dust mite sensitive like me, wear a mask if you're cleaning out the closet. Closet-cleaning is one of the few home chores that can make my allergies miserable for a few hours if I don't protect myself.

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Hopefully you can find some time this fall to follow these simple strategies that will make your home healthier and more efficient throughout the coming months. Remember, you can make a world of difference in your family's health, just by controlling allergens in the environment. Thanks for letting National Allergy help you along the way!

This information is for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor first about your specific condition, treatment options and other health concerns you may have.

Remember that our customer service representatives have plenty of experience guiding people through the options for allergy, asthma and sinus relief, so feel free to contact us by calling one of our phone experts at 1-800-522-1448 Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:30 pm Eastern Time. You can also e-mail us at


This Month's Exclusive Offers - Expire 11/08/2006

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  $10 Off Any Order Over $100

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Revive the performance of your HEPA Room Air Cleaner by replacing the pre-filter and main HEPA filter. Sale also includes special CPZ, carbon or other odor filters when applicable.   Take advantage of subscriber-only savings - we'll put $10 straight back in your pocket if your order is $100 or more!

To take advantage of the offers in this newsletter, be sure to subscribe by clicking here. After confirming your subscription, you will have an opportunity to read the current newsletter complete with the promotional codes..

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