Stephen R. Klossner Energy & Environmental Building Association
!2012 HOME spring | Friday, March 9, 2012
Builders and homeowners, alike are embracing central vacuum systems to
assure healthier living environments. It’s one of the fastest growing
trends in the rapidly evolving green building movement. Although green
building began as an effort to use forestry
and water resources more efficiently, its emphasis quickly grew to
embrace products and practices that would reduce energy consumption both
during and after construction. Today, green building also emphasizes
indoor environmental quality to produce homes that are healthy places to
To activate the system, simply plug the lightweight hose
into the wall inlet, an average home has three inlets, flip the switch
on the hose handle and start cleaning and improving the indoor air
quality of your home with powerful performance.
Boyce Thompson, editorial director for Builder magazine, the leading
publication serving the nation’s homebuilders, the green building
movement experienced major growth in 2007 in spite of a sharp drop in
overall building activity.
“Within the last half year, we’ve
seen an exponential increase in builder interest in green building.
That’s no doubt because more and more potential home buyers are asking
for healthy, energy-efficient homes. But it’s also because builders have
seized on green building as a way to differentiate new from existing
homes,” noted Thompson.
Indoor air quality
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov),
the air inside a typical American home can be five to 100 times more
polluted than the air outdoors. Indoor pollutants typically include
combustion gasses, organic vapors emitted from solvents, adhesives and
building materials and other biologicals such as molds, allergens and
dander. The tighter the home is built to conserve energy for heating and
cooling, the less fresh air gets inside to dilute indoor pollution
levels and there are fewer ways for pollutants to be removed.
central vacuum system consists of three major components: a power unit
that includes the motor, filtration system and a receptacle that
collects the dust and allergens captured by the vacuum; the central
vacuum hose, cleaning tools and an electric power brush for cleaning
carpet; and a network of built-in inlet valves and inside-the-wall
tubing that connects the hose to the power unit.
power unit is typically installed in a garage, basement or utility room,
its motor exhausts no air through the living area during cleaning.
Instead, all of the captured dust and allergens are safely removed. And
because the power unit is permanently installed, it can accommodate a
motor with up to five times more cleaning power than a traditional
upright vacuum, assuring that more dust and allergens are collected.
Proven allergy relief
For the estimated 42.6 million Americans who suffer from hay fever,
asthma or both, removing indoor allergens is critically important to
relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of serious health complications.
customers with allergy symptoms dramatically improved when they
switched from a conventional vacuum to a central vacuum system for
cleaning their homes.
Adding to the appeal of a central vacuum
system is the fact that it is an indoor environmental quality
enhancement that the home buyer uses regularly and a product that can
add as much or more value to the home than what it costs. Moreover, the
National Association of Realtors (www.realtor.org) has stated that a home equipped with a built-in central vacuum typically sells faster than a comparable home without one.
The green benefits of central vacuum systems extend beyond their indoor
air quality contributions. Although a central vacuum system is up to
five times more powerful than a portable vacuum, the amount of energy
required to run it is almost the same. Operating one hour per week
would consume 90.48 kilowatt hours of electricity at a cost of
approximately $6.78 annually. That is less than one-half the energy
required to run a typical personal computer or clothes washer and
one-sixth the energy that would be required to operate a refrigerator
for an entire year.
Additionally, central vacuum systems cause
less strain on the waste stream than conventional vacuum cleaners. A
study conducted for Appliance magazine’s 30th Annual Portrait of the
U.S. Appliance Industry published in September 2007 estimated the
average life expectancy of a central vacuum system to be 15 years,
compared with an average life expectancy of six years for an upright or
canister vacuum. The same study estimated that more than 17.7 million
conventional vacuum systems will need to be replaced in 2008, with most
ending up in landfills, compared with 141,000 central vacuum systems
that would need replacing in 2008.
For all these factors,
indoor air quality, efficient energy use and waste reduction, central
vacuum systems offer an important step toward a healthier living and a
more sustainable environment.