How to Improve your Home's Indoor Air Quality
Winter in Canada means keeping your home as warm as possible, sealing up any drafts to keep the heat in and the cold out. This helps our home’s heating system to work more efficiently and avoid wasting energy. While it may feel warm & cozy, and keep our heating bills down, all that stale air inside may not be very healthy.
Our homes are filled with unseen pollutants that affect our indoor air quality. From the chemicals released by the materials in our furnishings and construction materials to our pets and outdoor pollution, we breathe in airborne particles without even noticing, which can lead to serious health issues for some.
The quality of the air inside your home is just as important as its temperature. For those who suffer from allergies or who may have respiratory issues, being sealed inside a cozy cocoon may exasperate these issues. From asthma flare-ups to fatigue, the lack of fresh air circulating throughout the home means allergens remain inside, impacting your ability to breathe easily.
Improving your home’s indoor air quality can spell relief as the allergens are reduced, lessening symptoms. While they cannot be eliminated entirely, here are a few ideas to help reduce the amount of pollen, allergens, dust mites, and other irritants in your home, to help you breathe easier and get a better night’s sleep, even when winter keeps your windows closed.
There are three essential methods of controlling and improving your home’s indoor air quality:
Control the Source – The least expensive way to improving your indoor air quality requires a little elbow grease. Staying on top of the dust will help a lot. Many of the irritants and allergens in your home cannot be seen by the naked eye, so it is important to be thorough.
Start from the top-down, dusting and vacuuming the top of your ceiling fans, your floors, walls, and furniture. Don’t forget your mattress - your bed is a very cozy home for millions of dust mites and their feces (yuck!). You may also want to wash your bed linens, pillow, and curtains more frequently, and in hot water. All that dust and animal dander that you wipe off furniture also accumulate on top of your sofa, carpets, and bedspreads at the same rate.
You’ll have better results if you use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter, which will catch even more allergens in the home.
Improve Ventilation - Introducing fresh outdoor air will help to remove or dilute the particles in your home. If you are able to open your windows for a few minutes, run the kitchen and bathroom fan at the same time. This will pull stale air outside while increasing the amount of fresh outdoor air entering your indoor space, and lowering the concentrations of indoor air pollutants. Of course, opening the windows on occasion during the winter may increase your energy costs, but you may find it worthwhile to your health.
You may want to consider integrating an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) into your home’s heating & cooling system, which will dramatically increase ventilation while removing odors, bacteria, and other unwanted airborne particles from your home.
Clean the Air - If your home has a furnace or ductless heating system, replace the filters more frequently, or invest in higher-quality media filters that trap tinier particles, preventing them from circulating throughout your home. If your home is heated by a furnace, consider having your ducts cleaned annually to remove dust that is trapped inside.
You may find that investing in an air purifier pays off handsomely in health benefits. Capturing some of the allergens and irritants that aggravate your symptoms will offer some relief. Don’t forget other easy options such as running a dehumidifier in areas of your home that are damp, and eradicating mold in the bathroom.
Another Approach - When the time comes to replace your furnace, consider a model with features that improve ventilation and clean the air. Modern HVAC systems are outfitted with cutting-edge innovations designed to improve your indoor air quality. Not only do they pull fresh air into your home, but the best ones also clean the air with UV-C technology, killing bacteria, mold, and viruses as they filter and sanitize the air circulating throughout your home. By intercepting and eradicating airborne pathogens, even as we sleep, these home comfort systems can lead to a better quality of life for many.
By controlling the source of the irritants and allergens in your home, improving ventilation, and cleaning the air itself, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your indoor air quality at its absolute best.