Air Conditioning and Kids: 4 Considerations

Father and son in AC

Air conditioning can ensure the comfort and safety of every member of your household, including your children. But these benefits only come if you set up your HVAC and maintain it to meet your little ones’ needs properly.

Whether you already have children or you plan to grow your family in the near future, it pays to understand how air conditioning can help kids, how improper air conditioning management might do more harm than good, and what options you might want to pursue. Here are four considerations to keep in mind.

1. Climate Control for Babies

Preparations for bringing a new baby home should include more than just painting the nursery and selecting a crib. Infants have some special needs that call for fine control of their environment, including temperature and moisture levels. You may have to modify your air conditioning set up per these needs.

Newborn babies have more difficulty controlling their body temperature than older kids or adults. This adaptability challenge makes air conditioning a critical factor in supporting your baby’s health, safety, and wellness. Bear in mind, however, that a chilly room can prove just as unhealthy as a stiflingly hot one.

As a general rule, try to keep the air temperature in your baby’s room around 73 degrees to 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Crack a window or door to help fresh air circulate, even if it impacts energy efficiency.

Babies also have delicate skin that can easily dry out under air conditioning. Moisturize your baby’s skin at regular intervals to counteract the drying effect of air conditioning. Consider adding a humidifier to the room for additional humidity control.

2. Pediatric Asthma and Allergy Moderation

Respiratory issues such as asthma and allergies commonly afflict children. In addition, dust, dander, mold spores, and other airborne particles can contribute to symptoms such as wheezing, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Ideally, your HVAC system can ease such issues by filtering out these particles.

Unfortunately, an air conditioning system that has not received proper maintenance can actually add to children’s respiratory distress instead of relieving it. Dirty air ducts, moldy vents, and clogged air filters can push accumulated contaminants into the air or fail to filter existing airborne contaminants efficiently.

If your child shows signs of asthma or allergies around the house, have your air conditioning system inspected and, if necessary, thoroughly cleaned. Replace air filters as soon as they show signs of dirt. Ask your air conditioning technician to recommend a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter that can filter out all but the tiniest particles.

3. Indoor AC Components

The same ventilation network that can help or hurt respiratory issues in children can also invite injuries. Air vent registers (the shuttered or grilled panels that actually allow air to pass into individual points in a room) often have sharp metal edges or points on them, potentially cutting fingers or causing other damage.

While the registers placed high up on walls should pose no threat to children, babies or toddlers may hurt themselves on registers placed at or near floor level. If you have metal registers in these areas, have them replaced with child-safe plastic ones. Also, secure floor registers to prevent kids from removing them and leaving an uncovered hole.

Curious children also enjoy dropping toys or other objects into open spaces, including air conditioning registers. This habit can wreak havoc on mechanical parts, contribute to duct blockages, or force you to keep removing the registers and fishing out the dropped objects.

You can alleviate these issues by placing some screen or mesh between the outer register and the passage leading to the ducts. For instance, your air conditioning technician might install an inline air filter compatible with your particular HVAC setup.

4. Outdoor AC Components

As you work on child-proofing your central air conditioning system, don’t forget about the outdoor components that play a vital role in making the system work. The bulky condenser unit next to the wall contains a high-powered fan to control hot airflow. Unfortunately, this fan poses a threat to the fingers of curious kids.

You might assume that placing a snugly fitted enclosure around your condenser would solve this problem. But, unfortunately, this strategy may also limit airflow, reducing the condenser’s efficiency. Again, an air conditioning specialist can advise you on what kind of fence or another protective barrier will serve both your kids and your air conditioner.

If you need to optimize your home’s air conditioning to give every member of your family a high quality of life and safe home, Derek Sawyer’s Smart Energy Heating & Air has the installation, repair, and maintenance skills to support that goal. Contact us today to learn more about your residential air conditioning options. We look forward to working with you.

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