Baby, It’s Cold Outside. How’s Your Indoor Air Quality?
Old Man Winter is on his way, and we’ll soon spend more and more time indoors. While the holidays might look a little different this year, with fewer gatherings and celebrations, most of us will spend lots of time inside with those we love most – our immediate family members.
What better time to think about the quality of the air your family breathes?
According to the EPA, poor indoor air quality can aggravate conditions like asthma and increase a person’s risk of developing pneumonia and other upper respiratory problems. Plus, long-term exposure to indoor airborne contaminants may contribute to cancer and heart disease. Scary stuff!
Luckily, there are several simple steps you can take to improve your indoor air:
- Get serious about air system filtration. Change air filters every month to ensure your family is breathing clean, fresh, healthy air. Air filters can trap pollutants such as pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. They work by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps all those harmful particles. While they cost more, use HEPA filters if possible – they’re designed to be even better at catching the tiniest particles of dust, dander, and more.
- Dust and vacuum regularly. Keeping your home dust-free will help your air filters work more efficiently, which can lead to improved indoor air quality. By using a damp microfiber cloth or vacuuming regularly, you can help minimize the amount of dust and debris floating around in your home.
- Increase ventilation. Of course, as temperatures drop you want to keep the warm air inside, but the downside of a tightly sealed home is that contaminants can be trapped inside! Weather permitting, open a window to allow fresh air in and stale air out. Assuming they push air outside, kitchen and bathroom vents are another great way to get rid of contaminated air.
- Invest in a humidifier. It’s not just polluted indoor air that can cause discomfort or illness. The extreme dryness of winter air can also be a contributor. Fan-powered humidifiers blow moisture vapor to increase the moisture content of the air and also reduce static electricity. Humidifiers can help family members inside the home breathe more comfortably by preventing dry throats and nasal passages. Bonus: adding the right amount of humidity to the air also controls dust mites, mold, and mildew.
- Schedule air duct cleaning. Just as the surfaces in your home become dirty over time, so can your air ducts. Through everyday life, our homes generate all sorts of contaminants and air pollutants like pet dander, dust, mold, and chemicals. All of those contaminants are pulled into your home’s HVAC system and recirculated an average of five to seven times per day. Yuck! Dirty air ducts can contribute to health issues, especially for those with respiratory conditions, auto-immune disorders, or asthma and allergies. Just like those outdoor seasonal allergens, indoor air pollutants can lead to irritated eyes, nose, and throat, as well as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Having your air ducts cleaned can greatly improve your indoor air quality and reduce health problems.
By the way, all those contaminants in your home’s heating and cooling system cause it to work harder, and ultimately shorten the life of your system. Even with proper use of filters, the heating and cooling system gets dirty through normal, everyday use. When an HVAC system is clean, it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you desire. As a result, less energy is used, leading to lower electric bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, families can cut their energy bill by as much as 20% or 30% by simply doing proper HVAC system maintenance, including air duct cleaning.
No matter what climate you live in, your home needs a little TLC as the seasons change. As we brace for bone-chilling cold and winter storms, it’s a great time to take a look at what you can do INSIDE your home to get it ready for winter. This holiday season, why not give your family the gift of cleaner air?
When you’re ready to tackle those air ducts, make sure you choose a qualified contractor to ensure the job is done right. NADCA makes it really simple for homeowners to find an air duct cleaning professional. All it takes is a zip code to search our online directory to find a NADCA member in your area.