When it comes to keeping your house safe and clean, indoor air quality probably isn’t one of the first things that comes to mind – but it’s certainly one of the most important. Are you doing enough to maintain healthy and clean indoor air in your home?
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Most people are aware of outdoor air pollution. It gets a lot of attention and scrutiny from the media and general public. But what if someone told you that indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air?
Over the past few years, the EPA reports that multiple studies indicate air within homes and other buildings is more dangerous than outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized urban areas.
“Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors,” the EPA explains.
Some of the most common air pollutants include radon, carbon monoxide, mold, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, and pesticides. These range from mildly irritating to potentially deadly.
The trouble is that you can’t always detect polluted air on your own. As a result, it’s easy to make assumptions about the quality of your home’s air. Don’t make this mistake. Your air is most likely a lot less safe than you think. Here are some tips for improvement:
1. Use the Right Air Filters
Your HVAC filters play an important role in keeping your indoor air quality healthy and pristine, but make sure you’re purchasing the right filters for your needs.
Filters that claim to only need to be changed every 90 days or so can actually be hard on your furnace motors. They constrict air and make it difficult to circulate air evenly throughout the home. As Morehart Air Conditioning & Heating explains, “These filters are good, but they’re almost too good.”
It’s actually ideal to replace your air filter every month. However, since this is impractical for most homeowners, the best solution is to invest in a reusable filter that can be cleaned with water every few weeks.
2. Keep Your House Clean
Once you have your filters under control, you can shift your focus to keeping your house clean. In doing so, you can greatly reduce your chances of contaminating air after it’s entered the home. Suggestions include:
- Encourage family members and visitors to remove shoes and leave them outside to minimize the amount of dust, dirt, and pollen that’s transferred into the home.
- Buy machine washable bedding and make it a point to wash sheets, comforters, and pillows on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
- Regularly clean all hard surfaces in your home using natural ingredients (rather than commercial cleaning products that contain chemicals).
- Vacuum carpets and rugs on a weekly basis. For best results, use a high efficiency particular air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner.
- The more you prioritize cleanliness in your home, the more likely that your air will remain clean and free of irritating and harmful pollutants.
3. Control Moisture
When your home’s air contains a high moisture content, it’s much more susceptible to pollutants. Mold, mildew, and other substances thrive on moisture and will use it as a breeding grounds for multiplying. By keeping moisture down, you reduce the risk of an outbreak.
Ideally, you should keep humidity levels to less than 60 percent. If you find this difficult, a dehumidifier will help. Other suggestions include repairing water leaks immediately, running bathroom fans while showering, and using houseplants to filter out carbon monoxide.
4. Ensure Proper Ventilation
In addition to running a fan while you shower, make sure your entire home is receiving proper ventilation. Depending on the season, open doors and windows to allow outside air to mix with indoor air. You should also make sure all fuel burning furnaces, heaters, range tops, and fireplaces are properly vented to the outside (and well away from windows or air intakes).
Keep Your Family Safe and Healthy
In order to protect your family, you have to be cognizant of the things you can’t always see. This means paying attention to indoor air quality, even when it’s easy to assume that everything is fine. Hopefully the tips discussed in this article have provided a good starting point.