On average, Americans spend 90 percent of their lives indoors, according to a survey funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Knowing this, it’s only wise to ensure our indoor air is as healthy as possible.
Unfortunately, the quality of indoor air is often much worse than outdoor air, causing a number of health problems, such as heart issues, strokes, allergies, asthma and chronic lung diseases such as COPD. Anyone may be affected from years of continued exposure to indoor pollutants, and children, people with asthma or COPD, and the elderly may be especially sensitive. People suffering from COPD, for instance, dread cold weather, because it worsens their symptoms.
The indoor air may be polluted by lead in house dust, formaldehyde, fire-retardants, radon, volatile chemicals; inadequate ventilation, high temperature and humidity levels, mold, microscopic dust mites, all contribute to increased concentrations of indoor pollutants. Since modern homes are created to be airtight, these irritants tend to stay inside and negatively affect the indoor air quality (IAQ).
Here are top ways to improve the IAQ of your home this winter:
One of the most effective ways to reduce the concentrations of indoor air pollutants is to eliminate individual sources of pollution or to reduce emissions.
Faulty appliances emit harmful pollutants, so it’s important for trained technicians to evaluate your home equipment annually, specifically your stove or furnace.
Test for lead, as it may be in the wall paint, especially if your home was built before 1978, or brought in from outside.
Test for radon, a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that typically moves up into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation, even in airtight homes; granite countertops may also contain radon. Testing is easy, and even high radon levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.
Test for carbon monoxide in your home. A UGI Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing HVAC technician can service your furnace annually to prevent the “The Silent Killer” – carbon monoxide poisoning.
Remedy Mold Issues
Perform yearly check of mold, especially if your house has a basement and/or known ventilation issues, or if you live in a humid area.
Change furnace and air-conditioning filters frequently, and if there’s mold on the vents, use a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water to kill the mold.
To prevent mold, make sure you don’t have any leaky plumbing.
Clean Your Home
Keep the pollutants at bay by regularly cleaning your home.
Vacuuming with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter can reduce concentrations of lead in your home, get rid of other toxins, like PBDEs chemicals, and allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and dust mites. Clean the floors, walls and upholstered furniture, where dust accumulates.
To remove the dust left behind the vacuuming, use microfiber mops and dust cloths that will capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers. Also, use non-toxic cleaning products.
Plants and Herbs
Living plants throughout your home will add oxygen, which cleanses and purifies the air. Great plants to use are palms, like Areca, Lady, and Bamboo, and also Rubber Plant, Dracaena, Peace Lily, Boston fern, Aloe Vera, Snake Plant and Spider Plant. Pet-friendly plants include Aloe Vera, Yucca, Bamboo, Snake Plant, Ferns and Bromeliad.
Grow herbs on your windowsill, such as basil, mint, rosemary and thyme. They are naturally fragrant and will help clean the air.
Use organic potting soil and keep the plants and herbs healthy.
Improve Ventilation and Reduce Humidity
Vent your space to improve indoor air quality. You can increase the amount of outdoor air coming into your home by opening windows when weather permits, especially when vacuum-cleaning. Install the vent of the clothes dryer on the outside. Consider trickle ventilation, a 10-inch high screen with extra filters that can be installed to most windows, which lets fresh air in and helps escort indoor pollutants out.
Also, use an exhaust fan or open a window when cooking, running the dishwasher, or bathing; this will help reduce the humidity level, as well.
Humidity level should ideally be at around 30%-50% – this level will help keep dust mites, mold, and other allergens under control.
Good air purifiers will improve IAQ by removing allergens, harmful particles, and odors, and you should ideally have one in each bedroom as well as in the main living areas. This is especially important for people suffering from asthma, allergies, or chemical and pollutant sensitivities. From less expensive table-top air cleaners to sophisticated and pricier whole-house systems, there are many devices to help make your IAQ healthier:
- High-efficiency HEPA filters – most effective way to fight dust and allergens.
- Electrostatically-charged dust collection grid – effectively traps charged particles and pollutants like a magnet; simply wipe clean when dirty.
- Activated carbon filter – traps chemicals, gases and odors.
- Germicidal UV lamp – destroys micro-organisms.
- Photocatalytic oxidation (TiO2) filter – effectively reduces chemicals, bacteria and odors.
- Air-cleaning negative ions – completely safe and scientifically proven to be effective and to enhance filter efficiency when circulated throughout the room.
- Washable pre filter – does not need replacement, and enhances the durability and performance of the other filters.
- Sensor Technology – monitors air quality.
When looking for a trustworthy HVAC company, turn to our experts and let us guide you with servicing, upgrading or replacing your current systems, as our comfort advisors provide you with the energy efficient options that best fit your needs.
UGI Heating, Cooling and Plumbing has been providing a full range of high-quality home comfort products and services for over a century. Be proactive, give us a call today for more information on our indoor air quality product and our one-of-kind HVAC service agreements and to find the best option for your home.