The main job of an air conditioner is to decrease the temperature of the indoor air. But in the process, the system also does things that could lower the number of impurities in your indoor air.
There are also some other tricks to more effectively purify air from air conditioners.
How AC Purifies Air
An air conditioner has a filter on its output line that can block airborne particles from entering your room along with the chilled air.
However, this filter is not able to block smaller dust and dirt. Its performance also depends on how often you replace it. Experts recommend changing your dirty air filter with a clean, new one every six months. If you fail to do so, dirt might build up on the filter. Eventually, it will get blown off through the filter and pollute your indoor air again.
Better Filters for Better Performance
A filter is the part of an AC unit that purifies your indoor air. So, if you need your AC unit to remove more impurities, you can try to change the type of filter with a better one.
The quality of a filter’s ability to trap airborne particles is measured by MERV ratings. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The higher the rate, the tighter the filter is woven, meaning that the filter can trap smaller particles.
Most AC units use filters with a MERV between 5 and 8. This is good enough to capture bugs, dust mites, household debris, mold, pet dander, and aerosol spray. Some cheap window AC units use lower-rated filters of about 1-4 MERV.
Better-quality AC units have filters with MERV ratings between 9 and 12. These are mostly used in residential and common areas of a hospital. This type of filter effectively captures almost all types of dust and other common air pollutants. Hospital areas that need higher hygiene use AC units with filters rated between 13 and 16 to block human droplets, bacteria, smoke, and other pollutants.
There is also a better type of filter called HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, ranging between 17 and 20 MERV. It can even trap particles as small as 0.3 microns. That means about 99.97% of all pollutants in the air can’t get through this filter. If you want the best type of filter to purify your indoor air, this is the one you should look for.
Some AC units have ionizer technology. The same technology is also commonly found in air purifiers. This device can release ions that could neutralize odors and fumes in the room. If your room is often polluted with smoke and smells, you need to consider having an AC with an ionizer to get cleaner indoor air.
You can also find some AC units with built-in UV light. This technology kills bacteria and other microorganisms trapped in the filter. Without UV light, these pollutants might find a way back to your room. This technology is mainly advisable for people with allergies or sensitive respiratory problems.
If your indoor air quality is not so bad, using an air conditioner and natural ventilation might be enough to get it purified. But if you feel your indoor air is not fresh enough even after you have optimized your AC, then maybe it is time to get an air purifier.