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The Financial Costs of Bad Air Ventilation

Stop what you’re doing for a moment and listen. If it’s quiet inside your home or office, chances are the only thing you will hear is a slight hum. That is the sound of air ventilation or filtration at work.

Even the simplest of HVAC systems are hard at work keeping the air you breathe clean. It often isn’t until they are sputtering or broken that we investigate getting a new one. This is a mistake for many reasons. Ineffective air filtration systems have quantifiable financial, health, and productivity benefits.

If you think the ancient air ventilation system in your home or office can hang on for another few years — or that you’ll be fine without it — here is why you should reconsider.

The Health Toll of Bad Ventilation

While the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report for 2017 found that air pollution levels had declined in the past year, the number of people exposed to unhealthy amounts remained high. According to the report, 39% of Americans live in counties that have unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution. Many Californian cities rank high on the list of the most polluted places in the country, with Los Angeles once again topping charts. With the future of U.S. climate policy in question, a steady decline in pollution may not be forthcoming.

Staying inside as a way to avoid particle and ozone pollution is a myth. Even if you’re not outside actively taking in gulps of air, pollution will easily seep into our homes and office buildings — especially if you don’t have an effective air ventilation and filtration system to prevent this. If you live in a major city or near a large highway, you are even more exposed.

 Many respiratory conditions are caused by poor air quality, whether you’re indoors or out. Asthma attacks, lung cancer, shortness of breath, and cardiovascular harm are just a few of the health risks that come with too much exposure to ozone and particle pollution. In California, a study done by RAND Health found that the failure to meet federal air quality standards led to 30,000 hospital and emergency room admissions in the state over a two-year period. Financially, this clocked in at a cost of $193 million for air quality-related hospital care alone.

Unfortunately, the negative health effects that come from exposure to poor air quality only widen America’s socio-economic divide: African-Americans, minority groups, and those in lower income brackets are more likely to have health complications as a result of the air they breathe. Children and the elderly are the two age groups most likely to be affected.

Costs to the Workplace

Office buildings are some of the worst offenders when it comes to poor air filtration. This is unfortunate since millions of Americans spend their 9-to-5 day working in locations where they expect the building’s HVAC system to look out for their air quality needs.

Anything beyond the achievement of minimum ventilation standards is voluntary, not mandatory. While an office building may have to comply with standards when it is being constructed, the law has no teeth with regards to air quality standards once the building is operating. Building operators are supposed to track system operation and maintenance, but unless people complain or bacteria or fungi are found growing in the system, it’s not likely it will be replaced with a proactive approach.

Pollutants that can cause poor air quality in an office space aren’t just coming from outside. The failure to regularly water plants, a blockage of air vents, and food or garbage left sitting around are just a few of the factors that can cause the deterioration of indoor air quality.

The health effects caused by poor air quality can have a direct correlation on workplace productivity. More people falling ill from conditions related to poor air quality means more sick days and sluggish, wheezy workers. Serious health concerns increase employer health insurance premiums, meaning the price employees have to pay for this insurance goes up, and wages go down.

Overall, bad air quality has been estimated to cost the global economy $225 billion a year in lost labor — $60 billion more than the annual total a decade ago.

The Alternative: High-Quality Air Ventilation and Filtration

The solution to the financial and health costs is to invest in a high-quality air filtration system. While a high-quality system is certainly an investment upfront, consider the cost of having anything otherwise: poor health conditions for you, your employees, and your family; decreased productivity; and a larger electricity bill. If you’re the one in charge of paying the bills, you should know that the inefficiency of a dirty and old filtration system can raise operating costs significantly.

Many air conditioning and heating companies offer service options so you can check the efficiency and cleanliness of your HVAC system before you decide to replace it. It is important to hire a company that can install an AC unit properly in your home. Look into the quality of your ventilation and filtration system today. We promise you will breathe easier because of it.

Written By

Kevin Burns is the President of Bob Jenson Air Conditioning in San Diego with over 29 years of experience in the HVAC Field. He has worked in every aspect of the industry and has trained dozens of people. He has a passion for doing what’s right for each home and customer and sets this standard for his entire team.



  1. Kate S

    October 17, 2018 at 1:46 am

    Kevin, this is really interesting. In this post we are fortunate to hear from an industry veteran like you. As an architect you must have end to end knowledge on how to design & install the HVAC in most complex environment. I am based out of India and working in home/office decor industry. I also need to work with clients sometime on air filtration and HVAC installation process. And from my experience, I found that indoor air purification and well managed ventilation has a huge importance in long term sustainability of us. I recently came to know that regular maintenance of HVAC is also important otherwise it adds up your indoor air pollution. Quite interesting.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope, I will get more & more technical help from your posts in coming months.


  2. John

    November 4, 2019 at 11:43 am

    Wow, great post Kevin. I am often more focused on the health and well being benefits of indoor air quality, but your post sheds important light on the financial burden. This is definitely something every employer or home owner should read!

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