The air quality inside your home was probably not something you gave much thought to prior to 202, but the pandemic and the wildfires experienced in the West Coast in 2020 helped to highlight why it is important to keep all areas of your home, including the air, as safe and clean as possible.
The reality is that air quality can have a far greater impact on health than you may realize. Prior to the pandemic, people would spend 90% of their time indoors, on average, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The quality of air that we inhale 90% of the time when we are indoors is critical to our overall well-being, according to a former respiratory therapist who’s currently a board-certified emergency medicine physician whose name is Steven Haywood, MD.
Minor impacts of unhealthy indoor air quality include dizziness, irritation of the throat, nose, and ears, among others, but other more serious effects may include respiratory diseases and even cancer. One of the key lessons we have learned since the pandemic is just how important indoor air quality actually is.
One way to improve the air quality in your home is by using a quality air purifier. However, you should keep a 3-pronged approach in mind: Filter the air, introduce fresh air, and manage humidity, say the experts. Ensure that air quality monitoring is something that you make a regular thing.
Here are 12 ideas for improving the indoor air quality in your home, whether you or a member of your household or the environmental conditions outdoors are causing poor indoor air quality.
1. Eliminate Air Pollutants
The first step is removing anything from your home that’s causing degradation of the indoor air quality. However, this may or may not be easy. For instance, if you have paint, cleaning supplies, or other chemicals in the house, you should simply move them out of the main living area and perhaps to the garage.
If the source of air pollution is your pet, however, it gets more challenging. An ill member of the family can be yet another source of air pollution that’s virtually impossible to remove.
2. Introduce Fresh Air
Improving the indoor air quality in your home can be as simple and fast as opening the windows for ventilation. However, this option isn’t always practical, depending on the humidity, weather, pollen levels, pollution, and other local factors outside.
3. Update Your Thermostat
Ideally, you should look for a thermostat with a circulate mode. Some thermostat models typically run indoor fans for about 20 minutes of each hour, while other models may allow the fan to run continuously at a reduced speed to ensure constant air flow.
4. Run Bathroom Exhaust Fans Constantly
Running your bathroom exhaust fans all the time might sound extreme and perhaps even a bit annoying because the sound can be grating, but it is an excellent way to improve the indoor air quality. This feature draws air out of the home constantly, this drawing fresh air in to replace it.
5. Ensure Your Dehumidifier Is Properly Maintained
Make sure that you keep the dehumidifier clean and constantly running throughout the humid season in your area. For instance, it would make sense in April through October in the Northeast while it would be sensible for Floridians to run dehumidifiers throughout the year.
6. Increase the Humidity in Winter
Humidity is important when it comes to maintaining a healthy air environment, particularly during the winter months, when the air is typically dry. The humidity can be delivered via a portable system or one that’s professionally installed. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers recommend using humidifiers to do the job.
7. Buy a Quality Air Filter
The higher the quality of the air filter you have, the more particles it can capture. However, the downside is that smaller particles will make your filter clog faster, which means that replacement will be required more frequently. Ideally, you should change the air filter every 30 days or so, or every 6 months if you have a larger capacity filter. Keep the replacement filters on hand so that you have them when you need them.
8. Limit Scented Items
You might be surprised and perhaps even a bit upset to learn that those air fresheners, scented candles, diffusers, etc. that you love may actually be responsible for the poor indoor air quality in your home. Some contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde that can be hazardous to health, causing irritation to the nose, throat, and eyes as well as headaches. Numerous disinfecting, cleaning, hobby, degreasing, and cosmetic products also contain VOCs.
9. Get Houseplants
Indoor plants not only help to add life and visual interest to any space but also help to purify the air and increase oxygen inside your home. They do this by helping to filter pollutants originating from inside your home, including those from cleaning products, woods, natural gas, carpets, trash, furniture, and more.
10. Examine Your Air Ducts
You should also keep your air ducts clean for air quality inside your home. Some of the common signs that your air ducts need to be cleaned include a visible build-up of dust on furniture or ducts, as well as an increase in allergy flare-ups.
11. Check the Cooking Vents
Whether you have a hood or a microwave with a carbon fiber above your range in the kitchen, make sure that the vents are working and that you clean them as well as the filters regularly. This is particularly important if you have a gas range because carbon monoxide can be emitted into the air if the burners are on.
12. Clean Your Floor Coverings
Rugs and carpets add coziness to a home, but they are also a top source for collecting dirt, pet dander, pollen and more – particles that can be easily picked up with each step. Ensure that you regularly clean them to help minimize build-up. To prevent further build-up, you may consider implementing a no-shoes household.