Improving Indoor Air Quality
When we think of air pollution, we often conjure images of factory smoke stacks, car exhausts, and other fumes that are being emitted out into the outdoors. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has research that shows that often indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air – as much as 5 times more polluted.
At first that might seem impossible, but the water cycle and nature make it possible. In our homes and offices, air is often recycled, so pollutants stay there. Outside, pollutants can be dissolved or mitigated by wind, rain, clouds, and plant life. There is also a lot more air outside to dilute pollution levels.
Common indoor pollutants include the expected mold and mildew, airborne viruses, bacteria, and dust particles. There are also a lot of other pollutants you might not have thought about. The EPA reports that the top 5 air quality issues we have in the U.S. are all indoor air pollutants, such as combustion products, pesticides, radon, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds – think paints, pharmaceuticals, refrigerants). Whether you are aware or not, these pollutants are in your home and you are breathing them in every day.
So how can you improve your indoor air quality and improve the health of your loved ones? Here are some quick tips:
- Filters – Change the filters in your HVAC regularly. Most filters should be changed every 3 months, the packaging will tell you when to change it. You can improve your filtration by upgrading the quality of the filter in your HVAC to one that catches more pollutants than the basic models do. You should also be replacing the other filters in your home – the filter in your vacuum, your dryer, and your kitchen vent. A filter that is overdue for a change is not filtering out the pollutants in your air, so it is really important to stay on top of filter changes.
- Kitchen Ventilation – Not only should you be changing the filter in your kitchen vent regularly, you should also be ventilating the area whenever you are cooking. Gas and electric stoves produce carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide – gases that are harmful to humans. When cooking, be sure to turn on your kitchen vent and even open a window to improve ventilation.
- Carpets – dust, dust mites, and other irritants can become trapped in carpets and rugs throughout your home. Regularly cleaning these areas will improve air quality by reducing the amount of pollutants floating through the air. Think of any time you walk across a carpet, those irritants are being disturbed and are floating back up into the air you breathe.
- Plants – We know that plants help clean the air outside, and you can apply the same idea to indoor plants. Research started in the 1980s when NASA began looking for ways to improve indoor air quality on space ships. They saw that the roots and soil of houseplants significantly reduced the levels of VOCs. So not only do plants look good as part of the decor, they play an important role in cleaning up the air in your home. The plants most effective in reducing VOCs are palm plants, rubber trees, Boston ferns, spider plants, and ficus trees. The spider plant, ficus, and Boston fern are all great for first-time plant owners as they are easy to care for.
- Humidity – One of the biggest concerns for indoor air pollution is caused by moisture. It becomes trapped in homes and can lead to mold, mildew, and other issues that you may not even know are there because they often grow in places that are hard to see. These irritants can cause asthma or allergy issues to flare up. You can control the level of humidity in your home by incorporating humidifiers. If you are unsure what type of humidifiers to get, or where to place them, contact Weather Crafters today and we will be happy to walk you through the process.
- Air Ducts – These work to distribute air throughout your home, like a highway for your HVAC to use. If they are not installed correctly, or not maintained, they can greatly contribute to indoor pollutants. Pet dander, dust, and mold can travel through these ducts and travel through the air you breathe. Well-cleaned and maintained air ducts can greatly reduce the pollutants in your home. Schedule an HVAC maintenance check twice a year with Weather Crafters, once before turning on the heat in the fall, and once in the spring before switching over to air conditioning.
- Windows – Another easy way to help clean the air in your home is to open the windows when possible. This allows fresh outdoor air to circulate in. Not only does it help freshen things inside, it also improves air quality.
Keeping the air in your home as clean as possible can be tricky, but there are quite a few tricks listed above. One of the best ways to keep your indoor air clean is by scheduling maintenance with Weather Crafters. We can help change your filters, inspect your duct system, and make sure that your heating and cooling systems are operating efficiently, providing clean air for your home. Give us a call today to schedule your next maintenance visit.