How efficient is your home?

Would you like to know more about the air quality in your home?

We are undertaking a research project to explore the impact of high-efficiency filtration on particle concentrations in residences. Funded by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), we will be conducting yearlong measurements in 18 Toronto residences in order to develop a complete picture of how filters influence indoor air quality in residences. This project is unique because of the depth and the duration of the measurements and it should provide considerable details about the benefits and costs, as well as the real-world performance of filters in residences.

In order to complete this work, we need to recruit homes that are willing to participate. The benefits for the research subjects include free filters for a year, a very detailed report on particle concentrations in your home, and cash incentive ($20 after completion of first measurement site-visit, $50 after six-months of participation in the project, and $80 upon completion of the project).

The criteria that we need from all test homes are:

  • A central forced air conditioning system that is used for both heating and air conditioning and that uses a standard size filter and that is accessible for all testing.
  • Within a 30-minute commuting distance from the University of Toronto St. George campus.
  • Ability to access the house (and furnace area specifically) for field tests nine times over the course of a year (more details below).
  • Allow for the installation of monitoring equipment for the duration of the study.
  • Have no current plan to change the furnace/air-conditioning system over the course of the year.

This will be a field-intensive project which means that we are conducting many measurements including a physical characterization of the house and the heating and cooling system, continuous monitoring of furnace operating run-time and particulate matter concentrations, and periodic monitoring of carbon dioxide levels, size-resolved particle concentrations, filtration efficiency, and other related parameters. We will also analyze dust collected on study home filters to better assess filtration performance and its relationship to exposure.

All houses that are accepted into this program will be tested nine times (every 1.5 months) over the course of the year. The initial visit will be approximately 4-6 hours in length and subsequent visits will be shorter. A few of the tests will involve leaving equipment overnight and returning to pick it up the next day. None of the equipment or testing will affect the operation of your house or changes in normal activities with the potential exception of additional operation of the furnace blower (not the furnace itself, just the fan that moves air). All visits will be done by myself and/or trained graduate students.
If you meet the criteria above and are potentially interested in participating, please contact Masih Alavy at or 416-300-7325 and indicate your interest. We will schedule a short visit where we can check the suitability of your system/house for the project, show you the equipment that we will deploying, discuss the schedule in more detail, and answer any of your questions. Once we have a list of candidate homes, the project monitoring subcommittee at  ASHRAE will approve the list and we anticipate beginning testing in December 2016 or January 2017. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at or 416-978-7975 if you have any questions.