Most of us spend 90% of our time indoors. This makes us vulnerable to the pollutants found in our homes such as formaldehyde, VOCs and radon. Your HVAC system is important for plumbing, heating, and cooling your home so be sure to keep it properly maintained. Keep in mind that home warranty vs home insurance is different so double check your package and plan to see if your HVAC system is properly covered.
Proper ventilation, cleaning and changing your filters can help keep irritants like allergens and toxins out of your home. Here are five simple ways you can improve your air quality at home without spending much money.
1. Remove Allergens
Whether you’re allergic to pet dander, dust mites, mold, mildew, chemicals, tobacco smoke or some other substance, it’s important to remove it from your home. The most effective ways to do so involve prevention and ventilation.
Allergens in the air typically attach to surfaces, and when they’re agitated or disturbed (by sweeping or vacuuming), they become airborne. Removing these allergens from your home can significantly reduce symptoms and improve air quality. Store shoes outside to avoid bringing them indoors, wipe off your hands when coming inside and make sure you have a mat in the entranceway to catch dust and dirt before it can track into your home. Vacuum regularly and wash sheets, pillows and blankets on a weekly basis. Also, keep humidity levels below 40 percent.
It’s important to test for harmful gases like radon, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, but there are many other pollutants in your home that you cannot see or smell. These toxins are known to trigger asthma flare-ups and allergies and can lead to more serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.
Ventilation is one of the best ways to improve air quality at home. Opening windows, even in winter, allows fresher outdoor air to circulate and dilute the pollutants in your home.
Using exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms can also help create air flow. Avoid scented candles, air sprays or incense and stick to unscented cleaning or self care products.
3. Clean Your Vents
Dirty air vents are breeding grounds for bacteria, fungus and other organisms that can cause or worsen respiratory symptoms. These include coughing, sore throat, itchy or watery eyes, shortness of breath and even full-blown asthma attacks.
Other sources of indoor pollutants include secondhand smoke, certain types of cleaning products and paints, incense or scented candles, fireplace burning and smoking. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) like formaldehyde, which are emitted by chemicals in household cleaners, paints and building materials, also decrease
indoor air quality.
Regular ventilation is one of the best ways to improve indoor air quality at home. This includes opening windows during the summer and keeping them open as much as possible during the winter to let fresh air in and nasties out. Adding plants to your house that are natural air filters like ferns and lilies will also help keep your home clean.
4. Change Your Filters
Unexplained symptoms like coughing, itchy eyes or congestion may be a sign that your home’s air quality isn’t great. It’s important to have proper ventilation, remove toxins and bring in fresh air to keep your family healthy.
Changing your forced air furnace filter regularly is an easy and inexpensive way to improve air quality at home. Make sure to use a filter with a high minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating, as these filters trap allergens and other contaminants more effectively. Also consider replacing or cleaning washable kitchen and vacuum cleaner filters often. Plants act as nature’s natural air filters, removing harmful volatile organic compounds from the home’s atmosphere. A well-maintained lawn reduces indoor particulate matter as does a tree canopy outside your home.
5. Install an Air Purifier
With homes becoming more airtight to save energy costs, pollutants can get trapped in the circulating air. Installing an air purifier can help keep these pollutants from affecting your health.
Air purifiers are a great way to remove odors as well. If you have a large family, having one placed near the kitchen can help eliminate odors from cooking that can linger in the air for days afterward.
Many cities around the world have industrial emissions and heavy traffic that can cause lung irritation and asthma for people in those areas. An air purifier can trap these particles and reduce the amount of irritants in the air. It’s important to know the type of air quality in your area and your house before purchasing an air purifier for home use.