While people expect air pollution in urban centers like New York City, studies have shown that indoor air quality can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Believe it or not, better construction is partly to blame.
Modern and renovated homes are more tightly constructed to reduce energy loss than in decades past. This saves homeowners money but traps harmful particles and gasses, circulating these substances repeatedly through a home’s HVAC system. The side effects of poor indoor air quality can include coughing, difficulty breathing, sneezing, dry skin, headaches, nausea, and insomnia.
Fortunately, you likely already have access to tools that can control pollutant sources and help your household breathe easier indoors.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants
Poor indoor quality is caused by a mix of harmful particles from sources like:
- Pet dander
- Dust and dust mites
- Excess moisture that produces mold and mildew
- Fuel-burning heat sources and appliances
- Smoke from cooking, fireplaces, candles, etc.
- Cleaning supplies
- Newly installed flooring or carpet
- Materials used for hobbies
- Furniture made of pressed wood products
4 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Opening a window can help dilute indoor air pollution, but you’ll save more on your energy bills by controlling the source(s) of the pollutants instead. Consider these four ways to improve indoor air quality without investing in expensive equipment.
Change the HVAC Filters Regularly
HVAC filters remove dust, dander and other particles from the air. Changing your HVAC filters at least once every three months (or more often if you have pets) improves indoor air quality by filtering out pollutants from the air as it circulates.
Regularly replacing your HVAC filters also extends the service life of your equipment and keeps your home cooler (and less humid) in the summer. When an AC filter is coated in dust and debris, the unit can’t cool as efficiently, which wears down the system.
Monitor Moisture and Humidity
High indoor humidity levels and increased moisture in unventilated places that collect steam (like bathrooms or attics) can foster mold and mildew growth. Proper maintenance includes taking steps to reduce your home’s humidity and moisture levels.
Mold spores can circulate quickly throughout a home, contributing to poor indoor air quality. If you find mold, remove and replace the affected carpet, wood or drywall as quickly as possible.
Even if water-damaged areas are part of a pending homeowners insurance claim, you don’t have to wait on your provider to make repairs. Act immediately to preserve your family’s health and prevent further damage.
Vacuum or Dust Regularly
Carpets and rugs trap dust, dust mites, and pet dander in their fibers, while furniture and clutter collect dust that household members and guests can kick up into the air.
You can’t eliminate dust or dust mites from your home, but you can improve your indoor air quality by vacuuming or dusting at least once every two to three weeks.
Ventilate While Cooking, Cleaning or Using Chemicals
When you’re cooking, turn on the exhaust fan or ventilation hood. Fuel-burning heat sources release gaseous pollutants like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Even electric stoves emit trace amounts of nitrogen dioxide.
Open a window when you use cleaning agents that have an intense odor. Also, consider painting or gluing projects outside, away from vents that lead indoors.