Recent studies suggest your home’s indoor air quality is probably far worse than the air outside. While it’s common to think smog creates poor air quality outdoors and indoor air is healthier, that’s not an accurate picture of the conditions in average homes.
Those studies report that a home’s indoor air quality is often up to 10 times worse than the air we breathe outdoors. Indoor air is generally stale, with little fresh air introduced to interior spaces. In addition, routine daily activities contribute to poor indoor air quality.
So, just what can homeowners do to improve the quality of the air they breathe in their homes? Health professionals routinely recommend property owners take a few steps to improve the quality of their home’s indoor air and keep their families healthier in the future. Here are nine recommendations for improving your home’s indoor air quality.
1.) Increase the Home’s Ventilation
One of the simplest ways to enjoy better indoor air quality is to improve a home’s ventilation. Opening the windows is a significant first step, as eliminating the stale air immediately improves the air quality.
If opening the windows isn’t an option, consider adding a new source of fresh air. HVAC experts will generally suggest the most effective options for adding ventilation, so consider asking your favorite heating and cooling professional how to improve the air circulation in your home.
2.) Replace Your HVAC Filter
According to a recent industry survey, over 80 percent of property owners neglect to replace their home HVAC filters as often as they should. In most instances, those filters should be replaced once per month. While that timeframe will be different in some instances, it’s a good rule of thumb to use. If you’re unsure how frequently your home’s HVAC filter should be cleaned or replaced, have an expert evaluate your situation and recommend a replacement schedule.
3.) Clean Carpeting and Furniture
Carpeting and upholstered furniture tend to harbor dirt and pet dander but can also be home to mold and harmful bacteria. Few people clean carpets and furniture as frequently as health experts recommend. Proper cleaning habits reduce the contaminants in homes, which automatically improves indoor air quality.
Again, just how often carpeting and furniture need cleaning depends on the home’s location, whether pets are present, if anyone smokes in the home, and other variables. Under optimal conditions, carpeting and upholstery should be cleaned at least once every two years. In less-than-optimal environments, consider scheduling professional carpet and upholstery cleaning once per year.
4.) Add Indoor Plants
Most indoor air quality experts recommend introducing more plants to improve your home’s indoor air quality. Plants are natural air filters and will, as a rule, improve the air quality where they are present. In addition, plants provide beauty that’s hard to match with other furnishings.
Remember, however, that some plants can exacerbate allergies, so use care when selecting indoor plants if someone in the family has allergy issues. If you’re unsure which plants might not be suitable for a family member, discuss the issue with your doctor before selecting varieties.
5.) Install An Air Purification System
Virtually every homeowner can make good use of an air purification system. Those systems are especially useful when opening windows isn’t possible due to weather conditions. The systems are tailored to meet each property’s requirements.
If installing a whole-house air purification system isn’t an option, explore the various portable air filtration models currently available. It’s far better to use a portable filter than not having any filter. The units can be moved as needed, which means residents can use them in one part of the home during the day and move them to a bedroom at night.
6.) Replace Toxic Cleaning Chemicals
Many of the household cleaning supplies in use reduce the quality of your home’s indoor air. Toxic chemicals are often included in home cleaning products, and many odors cause headaches and other health issues for residents.
Explore the current crop of green cleaning and maintenance supplies. Most are far safer for residents and pets, as they include no toxic chemicals or noxious odors. Most people now have access to green, non-toxic cleaning supplies online or in local shops.
7.) Avoid Using Air Fresheners
While the stated purpose of air fresheners is to improve the way your home smells, most simply overpower one scent with another. Many of the chemicals used in commercial air fresheners are hazardous and worsen residents’ allergy symptoms.
If you feel some type of air freshener is a must in your home, check out options using essential oils to provide a mild, non-toxic aroma. However, it’s a good idea to avoid adding any scent when possible.
8.) Install and Use a Cooking Vent
While most homes now have some type of cooking vent installed, many of those vents go unused. Even when they are used, vents that recirculate the air are not all that effective. When possible, install range hoods and fans that vent to the outdoors.
However, when using any type of vent that exhausts to the outdoors, keep in mind that the vented air should be replaced, which means a fresh air intake should be installed to equalize indoor and outdoor air pressures.
9.) Add a Humidifier or Dehumidifier
Finally, controlling the humidity levels in a home is essential when attempting to improve indoor air quality. Too much moisture leads to the formation of mold and mildew. Too little humidity creates another set of problems, as overly dry air leads to respiratory issues and increased levels of dust in the air.
Some homes may need both humidifiers and dehumidifiers, as summer months are humid and heating systems dry the home’s air too much during cold months. Since every home is somewhat different, discuss how your home’s humidity levels can be addressed with an HVAC professional.
Improving Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality Starts Now
If you’re concerned about indoor air quality, you’re not alone. Today, countless homeowners are exploring ways to improve their homes’ indoor air quality to protect the health of everyone in the home, including pets. The first step toward improving your home’s indoor air quality is to contact an HVAC professional for recommendations.
Blake Brumfield is the owner of AC TEX, LLC Air Conditioning and Heating. He is a graduate of Lindsey-Cooper Refrigeration School and has over 6 years of working experience out in the field. Blake holds a Universal EPA License, Certified Technician License, and a HVAC Contractor License. In addition to his love of the outdoors, Blake spends most of his free time continuing to study and learn about today’s modern HVAC systems.