Indoor air quality (IAQ) may not get a lot of attention unless someone in your home suffers from a respiratory problem or allergies. But in reality, IAQ affects the health of everyone in the home. The EPA estimates that the quality of air inside your home could be among the worst you encounter, so it makes sense to take steps to improve it.
These three strategies will improve the quality of the air you breathe at home:
- Source control – Everyday products you bring into your home like new shower curtains, furniture made from pressed wood, paint and new flooring can degrade the quality of your air. These products emit different types of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are unhealthy to breathe. When selecting these, pay attention to the labels and choose those that indicate they contain no or few VOCs.Household cleaning chemicals also emit gases that can be harmful, and smoking indoors reduces air quality substantially. Natural disinfectants like vinegar, alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are much safer to breathe, cost less than many cleaners and leave no residues behind.
- Ventilation – An airtight home may save energy on cooling and heating it, but if ventilation is inadequate, the concentration of harmful chemicals can build, especially during the winter when your home’s tightly closed.The HVAC industry has designed a system called an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) that brings in fresh air without adding to the heating or cooling load. These systems transfer the energy in the conditioned air to the incoming fresh air, lowering the cost of keeping indoor air quality high when using outside air.
- Air cleaners – These systems can be stand-alone air cleaners or attached to your forced air HVAC system for whole-house air cleaning. They use highly-efficient filtration systems to trap small airborne particles that the filter for the blower may not. Some of these air cleaning systems use UV lights that kill mold spores, bacteria and viruses.