Even before COVID-19, usage of home air purifiers had spiked. According to Consumer Reports, one in four American households now owns an air purifier. But what do they actually do and is it worth the investment?
Simply put, air purifiers can help to reduce home pollution and filter out things that are specific to your home’s needs. According to HVAC.com, “air purifiers use a system of internal fans to pull the air in your home through a series of filters that remove harmful airborne particles like dust, pollen and bacteria.” The machine then moves that air back into the atmosphere helping to keep your home healthy.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that indoor air is about two to five times more polluted than outdoor air and may be even higher. Air purifiers with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters can trap over 99% of pollutants which can include damaging materials like allergens, bacteria and mold. A study published in Chest India found that the reduction of harmful air particles and allergens did result in improved health across all ages especially with chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Besides the traditional HEPA air purifiers, there are other types of air purifiers. Absorbent air purifiers use chemicals like carbon to absorb odors and chemicals around the home. Since they do not absorb harmful particles, they are typically not a product that can be used alone. Ionic purifiers use ions to destroy chemicals that may cause bacteria, however, there may be some risks as ozone may be produced as a result.
UV purifiers use light to destroy chemicals that can cause bacteria that may contribute to viruses. A great combination is a HEPA air purifier with UV bulbs that can then contribute to the killing of unhealthy germs.
When considering an investment into an air purifier, you should consider more than the sticker price of the machine. First, a quality air purifier recommended by Consumer Reports often are around $200 and can be up to $1,000. After that, you need to consider filter replacement costs, which can be yearly or multiple times per year, as well as energy costs. Consumer Reports calculated their top recommended models’ costs. On average, the air purifier cost about $317; energy costs were about $60; and filter costs were about $127 for a first-year total of about $504.
Consumers should consider product reviews and ratings on how they effectively filter certain pollutants. Figure out what kind of space you will need and understand maintenance costs. Popular and highly-rated purifiers include Honeywell, Dyson, Coway and Lenoit (which makes a smaller version).
In short, if you or someone in your family suffers from allergies or other conditions which may benefit from clearer air, it may be well worth the investment.