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Why Buy a Central Vac?

Going green with a central vacuum system

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 live.

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.

According to 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.

A 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.

Because the 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.