Portable Air Conditioners Help Control Allergies

Portable Air ConditionersPortable air conditioners not only help keep you cool during hot summer months, but they also help allergy sufferers keep their allergies under control by regulating indoor temperatures and humidity levels. Dust mites and mold spores are two of the most potent and prevalent allergens. These two menaces which can aggravate both allergy and asthma symptoms are particularly affected by fluctuations in temperature and humidity.

Humidity and Allergies

Home humidity and portable air conditionersPortable air conditioners lower indoor humidity. Controlling humidity levels and keeping allergies under control go hand-in-hand. Allergy sufferers should monitor humidity levels and use dehumidifiers, humidifiers, and portable air conditioners to keep humidity levels between 40 and 50 percent.

Humidity is a matter of survival for dust mites. MedicineNet describes humidity's role like this, "Since dust mites have no means of drinking, they are totally dependent on the humidity surrounding them for water. They live best at a relative humidity above 55 percent." Moist ambient air also softens shed skin cells, making them a feast of easily digested tissue for dust mites.

Dust mites aren't the only allergens that flourish in moist conditions. Mold and mildew depend on damp conditions to grow. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises in their Mold Resources guide, "Reduce indoor humidity (to 30 to 60 percent) to decrease mold growth by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside and by using air conditioners and dehumidifiers."

In fact, the EPA recommends regular use of air conditioners not only to prevent mold colonies from forming, but for overall moisture control in the home: "Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners, especially in hot, humid climates, to reduce moisture in the air, but be sure that the appliances themselves don't become sources of biological pollutants."

For more information, see our informational article Home Humidity and Allergies.

Temperature and Allergies

Heat Index"Temperature and allergies are related because various temperatures affect the prevalence of allergens. Much like with high humidity levels, dust mites thrive in temperatures above 70 degrees. Remember, one of a their favorite places is in your bed where your body keeps temperatures warm. Keeping temperatures lower than 70 degrees will help keep dust mite populations in check.

Along these lines, Aerias, an Indoor Air Quality Resource Center, supports keeping indoor temperatures below 77 degrees since dust mites do not reproduce well below this temperature. The Medical Entomology Center corroborates: "The speed of development and adult longevity [of dust mites] depends on temperature and humidity."

Temperature also affects humidity. Warm air can hold more moisture than cooler air can. Therefore, keeping temperatures lower helps keep humidity in check.

Central Air Conditioner vs. Portable Air Conditioner

Furnace Filter for HVACCentral air conditioners (HVAC) and portable air conditioners perform the same basic functions of lowering both the temperature and humidity. When central air conditioning is not available, portable air conditioners are an ideal option because installation is easier than with window units. Portable air conditioners are also, as their name indicates, portable - you can move them around as needed.

Even when central air conditioning is in use, there are reasons to supplement with a portable air conditioner. For instance, because hot air rises, central air conditioning units don't always work well at cooling the upstairs of your home. Portable air conditioners can help ensure that humidity and temperature levels are at comfortable levels suitable for allergy sufferers while giving your central unit - and operating costs - a break.

Central air conditioners can also pose a mold hazard themselves. Air conditioner drain pans and evaporator coils can breed mold and air ducts can also harbor mold and mildew. Interestingly, one of mold's main food sources is dust, which is also often in abundant supply in and around central air conditioning units (take a look at your vents or your furnace filter). Portable air conditioners do not pose this risk of mold growth, and the attendant risk of mold spores being circulated throughout your home.

Whether you have central air conditioning or not in your home, portable air conditioners are a useful tool for any allergen avoidance regimen. By keeping humidity and temperature at moderate levels, and thereby keeping dust mite and mold growth under control, portable air conditioners play a significant role in reducing allergens in your home.