If you are in the habit of battening down the hatches to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, you may be putting your family at risk with indoor air pollution. There is a fine line between sealing air leaks and making your home so airtight that no fresh air infiltrates the building. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to improve indoor air quality without compromising your heating and cooling system.
Using exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom pulls stale air and toxins out of the home. Get into the habit of using the kitchen fan when you cook as it will remove cooking odors and pollutants released from burning propane or natural gas. In the bathroom, exhaust fans pull out moist air, reducing the risk of mold and mildew growth in moist areas. Both mold and mildew can contribute to indoor air pollution and lead to serious health risks.
It might be tempting to buy the least expensive air filters for your heating and cooling system, but these filters typically do not remove small particles from the air. Buying a HEPA filter will cost a little more, but it will also remove allergens and pollutants. If you have pets or smokers in the home, a HEPA filter will go a long way toward reducing allergens and improving indoor air quality. Ask your HVAC contractor about installing HEPA filters during your regular cleaning and keep some on hand for changing the filter when it gets dirty during the year.
Opening your windows for a short period every day, weather permitting, to flush out stale air and draw in fresh air is an effective way to improve indoor air quality. Try opening the windows at night when temperatures drop during the summer to exchange air in the home. During the winter, try cracking the windows to let fresh air in. You can also place a small exhaust fan on the windowsill to draw air out and minimize the amount of cold air that creeps inside.
Don’t overlook the effect of house plants on improving the air quality in your home. According to research by NASA in 1989, many house plants are effective in filtering toxins from the air. Some good choices are spider plants, philodendrons, peace lilies and pothos. It should be noted the the original research involved using carbon filters with fans to speed the air filtering capabilities of plants. The effect of adding these low-light plants to the home aren’t likely to solve air quality issues on their own, but they are a good addition to your efforts to improve the air quality in your home.
If you are concerned about the air quality in your home, call your local Metro Comfort Systems to assess whether your system is contributing to the problem. We can help you with tips and techniques for minimizing the effect the heating or cooling system has on your indoor air.