Tips to Improve Winter Indoor Air Quality

Tips to Improve Winter Indoor Air Quality

We are heading into winter. The time for open windows and doors is coming to an end for a little while. So what can you do to improve the quality of your indoor air in the winter? Because of our obsession with energy efficiency, we seal our homes air-tight with little fresh air making its way into our environment. Throughout the winter, we breath mostly recycled air. So how do you improve the indoor air quality of your home this winter?

Improve your ventilation

When it’s cold, you close your home to outdoor air which traps in VOCs (volatile organic compounds from paints, solvents, cleaning products, carpets, and furniture), dust and other harmful airborne molecules. The EPA is very clear that inadequate ventilation in homes and buildings increases air pollution levels.

To alleviate the issue, bring in more fresh air into your circulation. If you can open a window and let some outdoor air in, do so. Outdoor air almost always has fewer pollutants than indoor air.

Keep in mind that your furnace will be running frequently during the winter. Almost all the air in your house will pass through the furnace, ducts and vents at some point. Place a HEPA filter on your furnace. These filters remove these particles. Plus change the furnace filter regularly as it will clog due to the particles it captures. A dirty filter reduces efficiency and possibly recirculates pollutants into the air

Clean your vents

Another good way to reduce the particulate pollutants in your home is to clean out the vents. Most homeowners forget that dust and debris can clog them if not cleaned regularly. Get a professional to perform a full duct cleaning as they often need special equipment to reach all the ducts. If the vents or returns get clogged, it can reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system.

Smoke from woodstoves

Wood fireplaces are often the go-to choice for warming up homes without increasing the heating bill. But during the winter, our home traps smoke because of the lack of ventilation or open windows. This can cause health problems. That lingering smell of the burning fire may bring back childhood memories, but don’t overlook the affects on our health.

Wood smoke raises exposure to tiny particles and droplets that are about 2.5 microns in diameter (also called PM2.5). These particles can easily work their way into our respiratory tracts, which can cause chronic irritation, trigger allergies and asthma, and increase our risk of developing serious infections and disease. The EPA has a lot of information on the challenges with wood smoke. They recommend using a portable air cleaner and/or upgrading the air filter in your furnace or HVAC system can help to improve indoor air quality.

Get an air purifier

The many factors that worsen indoor air quality during winter make an air purifier an excellent option. Reduced ventilation and access to outside air take away many of the usual ways to improve indoor air quality. An air purifier allows you to remove pollutants such as dust and dust mites, pet dander and other allergens and VOCs from wood or tobacco smoke.

Also remember that many houseplants are natural air purifiers. They add aesthetic beauty to your home as well as purifying qualities. Several that work well are the Spider Plant, Boston Fern and Aloe Vera plant. But if you don’t have that green thumb quality, HEPA air purifiers do an excellent job of filtering dust and mold from the air. Carbon filters air purifiers can remove gases and chemicals that are toxic.

We spend a lot of time in our homes, especially in the winter. Take care of you and your family by ensuring your indoor air quality is the best it can be, this winter and year round. Let us know if we can help you achieve your air quality goals.