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  • Spencer Lawson

Clearing the Air: Strategies to Combat Inversion in Utah

Updated: Jan 5

If you’ve been living in Utah for a while, you may already know that winter can bring inversion to the valley. If you are new here, you may be wondering—what is an inversion?

An inversion occurs when a high-pressure system is setting up, trapping cold air on the valley floors with warmer air above it. This warm air also traps all our pollution with the cold air, keeping it contained in the valley until the inversion breaks. You’ll notice a cloud of haze sitting over the valley—and it has negative impacts on the environment and public health. 

So, what can you do to have a more comfortable and healthy living environment when the inversion sets in? Your indoor air is usually cleaner than outside air on inversion days safe (check out this article from the U of U for more information), but there are still steps you can take to mitigate the negative impacts of inversion

  • Change your air filters regularly: Check the manufacturer's instructions to determine how often you should replace your filter (it may be more frequent in the winter). A clean air filter can help your HVAC system operate more efficiently, saving you money on your energy bills.

  • Invest in high-quality filters: Consider upgrading to a filter with a higher MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating. A higher MERV rating means the filter can capture smaller particles, which can help improve your indoor air quality.

  • Consider an air purifier: If you have severe allergies or respiratory issues, consider investing in an air purifier. These devices can remove even more particles from the air than a standard air filter. Better yet, select an air purifier that offers a subscription for replacement filters to be sent, so that you don't forget to change yours.

  • Weatherize your home: Keep that bad air out! Add weather stripping to doors and windows to prevent the polluted air from coming in. This will also prevent cold air from coming in- which makes your heating systems work harder and less efficiently.

  • Vacuum often: Keep your house clean!

  • Get into the mountains! We live in a beautiful state—and getting up to higher elevations, away from the inversion, can help with breathing cleaner air on bad inversion days.

  • Drive less! Eliminate unnecessary, single occupant vehicle travel and idling, as vehicle emissions make up over 50% of the air pollution in Utah during a typical wintertime inversion day.

URC is working to create a sustainable future for all Utahns through renewable, cleaner energy - and therefore cleaner air! Join us by doing what you can at home.

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