Product: Awair Omni
This article provides an overview of the Awair Omni's key features, including a definition of the Awair Score, the Air Factors sensed by the device, and tips to improve indoor air quality for each respective Air Factor. Please read below for more details, and feel free to click on the shortcuts below for quick navigation:
- Awair Score
- Air Factors
- Temperature (°C/°F)
- Relative Humidity (%)
- Carbon Dioxide (CO₂) (ppm)
- Chemicals (TVOCs) (ppb)
- Fine Dust (PM2.5) (µg/m³)
- Light (lux)
- Noise (dBA)
- Other Resources
Awair Omni employs the innovative "Awair Score" to provide a quick and intuitive snapshot of indoor air quality. This score is depicted through a color-coded and numbered scale, ranging from 0, representing hazardous air quality, to 100, indicating good air quality. The device's LED features colored indicators corresponding to your Awair Score: green for good, yellow for acceptable, orange for moderate, red for poor, and purple for hazardous. For more information on the internal research that contributed to the Awair Score revision, please check out this article.
See the chart below for more information:
The Awair Score is calculated using measurements from five primary sensors: temperature, relative humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2), total VOCs, and particulate matter (PM2.5). Each sensor's air quality index employs a one to five scale to help you assess the health of each factor, and on the device itself, each of the air factor levels is represented by a column of dots, with more dots indicating unhealthy levels. The Awair Omni also measures ambient light and noise, and while they are crucial metrics for indoor environmental quality, they do not contribute to the overall Awair Score. Additionally, ambient light and noise are not displayed on the device but are monitored and tracked through the Awair Dashboard and Awair Business app.
Awair's indices are uniquely tailored to indoor air quality needs and have been developed in consultation with reputable environmental and work-safety organizations, including the EPA, WHO, OSHA, ASHRAE, and more. Drawing from medical and academic research, Awair has established optimal value ranges for the five key environmental factors: temperature (20 to 25ºC, or 68 to 77ºF), humidity (40 to 50%), CO2 (less than 600 ppm), chemicals (less than 300 ppb), and fine dust (less than 12 µg/m³). Deviations outside these suggested ranges result in deductions from the Awair Score.
Awair Omni allows you to monitor and enhance your indoor air quality based on real-time sensing of environmental factors. However, it's essential to consider that some levels may consistently vary due to local climate, building insulation quality, and HVAC systems.
Here's an overview of the key Air Factors:
The temperature index optimizes occupant comfort and productivity, ranging from 20 to 25ºC or 68 to 77ºF. Fluctuations outside this range can affect comfort and productivity and, subsequently, your Awair Score. To improve indoor temperature, consider these tips:
Heating Your Space:
- Adjust Your Thermostat: Ensure your thermostat is set to a comfortable temperature. In colder months, setting it to a lower but still comfortable temperature can save energy and money.
- Seal Leaks: Check for drafts and seal any gaps around doors, windows, and vents using weatherstripping. This prevents cold air from seeping in and warm air from escaping.
- Insulation: Proper insulation in walls and attics can significantly improve heat retention. Using carpets and rugs can also add insulation to cold floors.
- Use Curtains and Blinds: Keep them closed at night to prevent heat loss and open them during the day to let sunlight in.
- Space Heaters: Use portable space heaters in specific rooms to provide extra warmth.
Cooling Your Space:
- Adjust Your Thermostat: Set your thermostat to a higher but comfortable temperature. In hot weather, every degree you can tolerate can save energy.
- Use Fans: Ceiling and floor fans can help distribute air and make it feel cooler.
- Block Sunlight: Close blinds or curtains during the hottest parts of the day to block out direct sunlight.
- Seal Leaks: Just as in cold weather, sealing gaps and leaks helps keep hot air out and cool air in.
- Proper Ventilation: Use exhaust fans and keep windows open at night to allow cooler air to enter.
- Install Shade: Install shade structures like awnings or shade sails to reduce the amount of direct sunlight that enters your home.
- Insulation: Proper insulation can also help keep your space cooler by preventing heat from entering.
Additional tips include upgrading HVAC systems, using smart thermostats, and considering energy-efficient windows. If you have persistent issues, please consult an HVAC professional.
Relative Humidity (%)
Maintaining the proper indoor humidity levels (40% to 50%) is vital for ensuring comfort, respiratory health, and productivity, particularly for individuals with allergies, asthma, or respiratory conditions. This range helps minimize the growth of mold, viruses, and bacteria. To achieve the ideal humidity range, consider the following:
Increasing Relative Humidity:
- Use a Humidifier: Employ a humidifier to add moisture to your indoor environment. Whether you opt for a portable unit or a whole-house system, these devices can help you maintain the recommended humidity range of 40% to 50%.
- Place Water Containers: Put open water containers near heat sources like radiators or heating vents. As the water evaporates, it naturally elevates indoor humidity levels.
- Boil Water: Boiling water on the stove or kettle releases moisture into the air. Just be mindful not to over-humidify your space in the process.
- Hang Laundry to Dry: Drying your laundry indoors can introduce moisture into the air.
- Ventilation Control: During colder months, reduce ventilation to minimize the exchange of dry outdoor air with indoor air.
- Check for Air Leaks: Thoroughly inspect your home for gaps or cracks that may allow dry outdoor air to infiltrate and cause condensation, potentially leading to mold growth.
Decreasing Relative Humidity:
- Use a Dehumidifier: Control excessive humidity levels with a dehumidifier, particularly in regions with high humidity or during damp seasons.
- Ventilation: Promote proper airflow by utilizing exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens. When cooking or taking hot showers, use exhaust fans or open windows to expel humid air outdoors.
- Repair Leaks: Address any leaks or water damage in your home, as they can be a source of excessive humidity.
- Use Air Conditioning: Running your air conditioning system not only cools your indoor space but also naturally reduces indoor humidity levels.
- Seal Basements and Crawl Spaces: These areas can be significant sources of moisture. Ensure they are effectively sealed and insulated to prevent excess humidity infiltration.
- Maintain Houseplants: While indoor plants can increase humidity, be cautious about the quantity and types of plants in your space. Overwatering can elevate indoor humidity, so strike a balance in plant care.
For precise humidity monitoring, consider using a hygrometer to gauge humidity levels accurately. Houseplants can contribute to humidity but should be managed carefully, especially if numerous plants are present. Pay attention to the quantity and specific types of plants, and avoid overwatering, which can lead to excessive moisture in your indoor environment.
Carbon Dioxide (CO₂) (ppm)
Carbon dioxide (CO2) plays a crucial role in both health and productivity. Inhaling elevated CO2 levels can lead to challenges in maintaining focus, reduced cognitive function, and increased fatigue, potentially leading to severe consequences like asphyxiation. Generally, outdoor CO2 levels hover around 400 parts per million (ppm), making it a benchmark for indoor settings. Maintaining indoor CO2 concentrations at or below 400 ppm is ideal for creating a healthy and conducive environment for productivity, with concentrations below 600 ppm highly recommended. Consider these strategies for maintaining optimal indoor CO2 levels:
- Effective Ventilation: Ensure good airflow by:
- Utilizing exhaust fans in areas prone to moisture and odors, such as kitchens and bathrooms.
- Regularly opening windows or using outside air dampers to introduce fresh outdoor air, especially in poorly ventilated spaces.
- Employing mechanical ventilation systems like whole-house fans or heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) to exchange indoor air with fresh outdoor air efficiently. While this is the most effective approach, it's important to be mindful of potential outdoor pollutants that might affect air quality. In such cases, air purifiers can complement ventilation by removing particulate matter and certain indoor pollutants.
- Houseplants: Certain houseplants, such as snake plants, peace lilies, and spider plants, can improve indoor air quality by absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen. However, their impact on CO2 levels is limited and should be considered a supplementary measure, not a replacement for proper ventilation.
- Limit Indoor Pollution: Reducing indoor sources of pollution can help control CO2 levels. Avoid smoking indoors and minimize using products that release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as some cleaning agents and paints.
- Maintenance Matters: Regularly inspect and clean or replace HVAC filters to ensure optimal air circulation. Additionally, have your HVAC system and air ducts checked for leaks and blockages to maintain efficiency.
- Manage Occupancy: In situations with high occupancy, like gatherings or parties, CO2 levels can rise rapidly. Ensure proper ventilation, or consider reducing the number of people indoors until CO2 levels return to safer levels.
- Air Exchange Systems: For tightly sealed or energy-efficient buildings, consider installing an air exchange system. These systems introduce fresh outdoor air while expelling indoor air, effectively maintaining indoor air quality.
- CO2 Sensing Systems: In some commercial or densely populated residential settings, CO2 sensing systems automatically regulate ventilation rates. They increase ventilation when CO2 levels surpass a defined threshold.
Chemicals (TVOCs) (ppb)
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a diverse group of chemicals commonly found in indoor air, originating from everyday products - cleaning agents, paints, upholstery, sealants, pressed wood, and more. These compounds, both natural and man-made, can affect your health and overall comfort.
The presence of VOCs can exert a broad spectrum of health effects. Even at moderate exposure levels, they can induce discomfort, leading to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, allergic skin reactions, and irritation of the eyes and throat. Such discomfort can significantly impede one's concentration and overall productivity. Elevated concentrations of VOCs have been linked to more severe health consequences, including cognitive impairment, added stress on the liver and kidneys, and, in certain cases, an elevated risk of cancer. Hence, it is paramount to proactively reduce VOC levels in your living or working environment and strive to maintain a level of 300 parts per billion (ppb) or less. The following strategies can assist you in achieving healthier indoor Total VOC (TVOC) levels:
- Effective Ventilation:
- Ensure your space has excellent ventilation. Use exhaust fans in areas with elevated moisture levels and potential sources of TVOCs, such as the kitchen and bathroom.
- Regularly open windows to allow fresh outdoor air to circulate and dilute indoor air pollutants.
- Minimize Indoor Pollutants:
- Prohibit indoor smoking through a strict no-smoking policy.
- Opt for low or zero-VOC paints, adhesives, cleaning products, and furnishings. Look for products labeled as "low VOC" or "zero VOC."
- Store chemicals, paints, and solvents in well-ventilated areas, away from living spaces.
- Maintain a clean and dust-free home since dust can contain VOCs that settle over time.
- Identify and address the sources of strong odors, often linked to VOCs.
- Ventilation for New Additions and Renovations: When introducing new furniture or renovating, increase ventilation to help off-gas any VOCs from these items.
- Embrace Houseplants: Certain houseplants can help improve indoor air quality by absorbing specific VOCs.
- Employ Air Purifiers: Use air purifiers equipped with HEPA and activated carbon filters to capture and absorb airborne particles and some VOCs. Ensure the air purifier is sized appropriately for the room.
- Manage Indoor Humidity: Maintain an ideal indoor humidity level, roughly between 40 to 50%, to prevent the release of VOCs from materials.
- Seal Air Leaks: Seal gaps and cracks around windows, doors, and walls to prevent the infiltration of outdoor pollutants.
- Prioritize Regular Maintenance: Keep HVAC systems, including filters and ducts, clean and well-maintained to prevent pollutants from circulating.
- Assess Combustion Appliances: Gas stoves, fireplaces, and other combustion appliances can emit pollutants into the air. Ensure they are well-vented or consider transitioning to electric alternatives.
Fine Dust (PM2.5) (µg/m³)
Fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, poses a critical threat to our health. These minuscule particles can infiltrate our respiratory system and bloodstream, leading to various health issues, from irritation to severe conditions like COPD, lung cancer, and increased susceptibility to diseases such as COVID-19.
Protecting your well-being is a priority. We recommend maintaining indoor PM2.5 levels below 12 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³). Here are some effective strategies to help you achieve cleaner indoor air:
- Invest in Air Purifiers:
- Choose air purifiers with HEPA filters to effectively remove PM2.5 particles. Ensure the purifier is appropriately sized for your room.
- Consider models with activated carbon filters to combat odors and some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may contribute to PM2.5 levels.
- Keep a Clean Space:
- Regularly clean and dust surfaces to prevent PM2.5 particle buildup.
- Use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter to capture particles from carpets and floors.
- Minimize Smoking Indoors: Implement a strict no-smoking policy within your home, as indoor smoking is a significant source of indoor PM2.5.
- Ensure Proper Ventilation:
- Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom to eliminate particulates generated during cooking and showering.
- Allow fresh outdoor air to circulate and dilute indoor pollutants by opening windows for overall ventilation.
- Monitor Combustion Appliances: Using wood-burning stoves and fireplaces can emit PM2.5 particles. Ensure these appliances are well-vented, or consider switching to cleaner alternatives.
- Manage Indoor Humidity: Maintain indoor humidity levels between 40-50% to prevent dust and particles from becoming airborne. Use dehumidifiers if necessary.
- Seal Air Leaks: Seal gaps and cracks around doors, windows, and walls to prevent outdoor pollutants, including PM2.5, from entering your space.
- Control Indoor Sources: Be mindful of indoor activities that can produce PM2.5 particles, such as woodworking, painting, or using aerosol sprays. Perform these tasks in well-ventilated areas or take precautions to minimize indoor pollution.
- Regular Maintenance: Ensure that HVAC systems, including filters and ducts, are clean and well-maintained. Dirty or clogged filters can allow particulates to circulate.
The amount of light we’re exposed to during the day influences our productivity and health. A study of indoor office environments found that maintaining optimal light levels of around 1000 lux improved employee performance and well-being. For workplace task lighting, the recommended range is between 300 and 500 lux.
For residential environments, increasing light exposure during the daytime and decreasing light levels during the evening can improve alertness and lead to better sleep quality. Awair devices track light levels in your space and can give you the insight you need to create a healthier environment. Here are some strategies to help you achieve better indoor lighting:
- Natural Light: Ensure that your windows are clean and unobstructed. Use curtains or blinds that can be easily opened to allow natural light to flood the room.
- Artificial Lighting:
- Incorporate task-specific lighting where needed, such as desk lamps, under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen, and reading lights in living areas.
- Opt for energy-efficient LED or CFL bulbs, which not only provide good illumination but also save on energy costs.
- Incorporate dimmer switches or smart lighting controls to adjust the brightness of light fixtures according to your needs throughout the day.
- Place fixtures where they can distribute light effectively. Ceiling lights should be located in the center of the room for even illumination, while wall sconces can add warmth and style.
- Mirrors can help bounce natural and artificial light around the room, making it feel brighter and more open.
- Paint and Decor:
- Lighter wall colors and reflective materials like mirrors, glass, and glossy finishes can help amplify existing light.
- Reduce clutter and excessive decor, which can block or absorb light.
- Lighting Temperature: Choose light bulbs with the right color temperature for the intended space. Warmer (yellowish) light is often preferred for living areas, while cooler (bluish) light may be suitable for workspaces.
- Clean Light Fixtures: Dust and dirt on light fixtures can reduce their effectiveness. Regularly clean light fixtures and replace bulbs as needed.
- Smart Lighting: Consider smart lighting systems that allow you to control the intensity and color of light with a smartphone app or voice commands, as well as schedule routine light activity.
Remember that good indoor lighting can improve your mood, productivity, and overall well-being. Personal preferences play a significant role, so take the time to experiment with different lighting solutions to find what works best for your space and lifestyle.
In the United States alone, 30 million people are exposed to hazardous sound levels at work. A “hazardous noise,” as defined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is any sound that exceeds 85 dB(A) (a weighted average of noise exposure over a standard 8-hour work period). Although a little background noise can help drown out distractions, too much noise can cause stress and impede productivity. For indoor environments, optimal background noise levels are around 45 dB(A). Foreground (transient) noise levels should remain below 85 dB(A) so as not to interrupt concentration or trigger alarm.
In residential settings, limiting the amount of indoor noise pollution occupants are exposed to can create a sense of privacy and comfort. In addition, noisy indoor environments are typically valued lower (and are less desirable) than environments with healthy noise levels. Awair devices track noise levels in your space and can give you insight into how indoor activities or sound sources are affecting the health and productivity of your space. Here are several strategies to help you achieve better indoor noise control:
- Inspect your doors and windows for gaps and weatherstripping that may allow noise to enter. Seal any gaps with caulk or weatherstripping, and consider using draft stoppers.
- Hanging acoustic panels, artwork/tapestries, or heavy, sound-absorbing curtains can help reduce noise from outside sources, such as traffic or neighbors.
- Earplugs and Noise-Canceling Headphones: Use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones when you need immediate relief from noise disturbances.
- Manage Electronic Devices: Turn off or silence electronic devices when they are not in use to reduce background noise. This will also help minimize passive power and energy consumption.
- Carpets and Rugs: Use area rugs and carpets with thick padding to absorb sound and reduce echoes within a room.
- Furniture Arrangement: Place upholstered furniture and soft furnishings strategically to act as sound absorbers and dampen noise.
- White Noise and Sound Machines: Use white noise machines or apps to create a consistent background noise that can help mask other sounds. While this may not reduce the overall noise level, it can help prevent distraction and improve focus.
- Noise-Reducing Materials: Opt for noise-reducing building materials when remodeling or building new spaces. These materials can help minimize sound transmission through walls and floors.
- Use Soundproofing Insulation: Consider adding soundproofing insulation, such as fiberglass or foam panels, in walls, ceilings, and floors.
- Solid Doors: Install solid-core doors, which are more effective at blocking sound than hollow-core doors.
- Double-Glazed Windows: Consider double-glazed or laminated windows, which can reduce outside noise.
- Quiet Appliances: Choose quiet appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines, and HVAC systems, when possible.
- Strategic Timing: Schedule noisy activities, such as vacuuming, construction, or home improvement projects, during times when they are least likely to disturb others.
- HVAC Maintenance: Regularly service and maintain your HVAC system to reduce noise from fans and other mechanical components.
Improving indoor noise levels may require a combination of these strategies, depending on your specific needs and the sources of noise in your environment. Keep in mind that creating a quieter indoor space may not be about complete silence but about reducing disruptive or unwanted noise to a more tolerable level, and reducing actual dBA levels overall.
For further reading on how to improve your indoor air quality, please check out these additional resources: