Winter weather brings a few hassles for homeowners. Not only does heating your home increase energy costs, but the heat also dries out your home. For many, dry air feels cooler to the skin, which means raising the temperature and increasing energy costs. Homeowners need a whole house solution to improve indoor air quality and reduce energy usage.
In the winter, some people enjoy sitting by the fireplace. Sitting by the fire is a great way to relax with friends and family. The flip side is the fire can produce some pollutants that impact indoor air quality.
For cities with congestion, such as Atlanta, outdoor air quality is a known issue, but many people overlook indoor air quality.
According to the National Safety Council, indoor air quality can be up to 10x worse than outdoor air. The reason why?
We spend an average of 90% of our time indoors and about 65% of our time inside of our homes.
Microscopic pollutants like mold, pet dander and pollen combine with chemicals, such as radon and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The pollutants and chemicals combine to form a fairly toxic home environment that can lead to headaches, allergies and asthma.
In the winter, the risks related to poor indoor air quality rise because we spend much more time inside to protect us from cold temperatures. There are some simple steps homeowners can take to help improve their indoor air quality.
Change the Air Filter
Air filters work to trap large and small air pollutants. And the best part?
Replacing air filters are low cost, easy to change and widely available at your local home improvement center. Simply review your HVAC unit and find information on the proper air filter.
For the best results, then change your air filter every 1-3 months for indoor air quality improvements.
Clean Ductwork and Vents
Another quick and low cost way to improve your indoor air quality is cleanliness. Simply dusting ductwork grills and vents will help prevent debris from entering the ductwork system.
Plus, if dust builds on fan blades, it can impact the balance, which would possibly make the fan louder, reduce its efficiency and lead to damage over time.
Although winter temperatures are a bit brisk, an easy way to improve home ventilation is to open doors and windows. In cold spells, allowing outside air to enter the home may be difficult, but during moderate temperatures leave a window open or crack the back door for a few minutes each day to help recycle stale air with fresh air.
Additionally, if you are very concerned about home ventilation, then consider contacting a professional to install trickle vents. These vents allow fresh air to trickle into the home and polluted air to trickle out of the home.
DIY – Humidifiers
Humidifiers work to control the amount of moisture in the air. Typically, de-humidifiers remove excess moisture during the summer to make the air cooler. In the winter, then some people use humidifiers to increase the moisture levels and make the air warmer.
Some simple ways to increase home moisture levels include leaving out saucers of water – particularly if they are left near heat sources. As the water evaporates, the humidity levels will rise.
Remove Toxic Products
Many of the household products used to clean our homes include toxic ingredients. Homeowners should note that toxins come from a variety of sources, such as:
- Personal Care Products
- Cleaning Products
- Tap Water
First and foremost, don’t get alarmed at the range of products that include chemicals. Take a snapshot of high use products and consider the pros and cons of switching to a non-toxic alternative. Also, check the National Institute of Health household products database to understand your favorite products.
To start, consider adding a water filter to reduce chlorine exposure or looking into the impact of water quality on your health.
Additionally, consider working with chemicals outside and not in the garage. If any painting, soldering or maintenance is required, then try to do it outside. The more distance between working with dangerous chemicals and the inside of your home, the better.
Clean Floors Equals Clean Air
Another great way to improve indoor air quality is clean floors.
To avoid toxic chemicals, but continue to clean your house, then start with vacuuming. Routine vacuuming will help minimize dust and other allergens from the home and help improve the quality of air. Many experts suggest using a vacuum with a quality HEPA filter as well.
Also, if you do not have a doormat, then add one to your main entryway. The doormat will reduce the dirt and germs tracked through the house.
Add a House Plant
Houseplants work to remove toxins from the air. We all know that plants work great to remove excess carbon dioxide and add oxygen to the air, but some plants also help remove dangerous toxins.
When selecting a houseplant, be careful to check the list of NASA approved plants that help remove toxins.
Additionally, some plants are dangerous for children and animals. If you have a pet, then double check if the plant would potentially harm a pet or child.
For the most part, the best plants to remove toxins include:
- Boston Fern
- Areca Palm
- Lady Palm
- Bamboo Palm
- Rubber Plant
- English Ivy
- Peace Lily
Indoor Air Quality Checklist
The best way to improve indoor air quality is knowledge. Homeowners that want to keep their air clean should understand the impact of the products they use and how they might affect the air they breathe.
Seventh Generation has a checklist of items to be mindful about using in the home.
- Any spray products such as cleaners and personal care products.
- Air fresheners and/or room deodorizers.
- Use chlorine-free dishwasher detergent.
- Avoid dusters and techniques that simply stir dust around the home.
- Understand perfumes, colognes and other scented products contain unhealthy VOCs.
- Try to skip the dry cleaning.
Ultimately, be mindful of the ingredients contained in home products. If they are mainly comprised of chemical solutions, odds are they will not help your air quality in the long run.
At Snappy, we work with homeowners to ensure all facets of home safety and protection. We specialize in whole house solutions that allow you to control and maintain the proper levels of humidity throughout the year.
For more information on your home’s air quality, then call Snappy today to obtain a free quote on how to better manage humidity levels in your home. We all spend too much time inside, we just want to make sure everyone is breathing the best air possible.