According to recent studies from the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends up to 87 percent of their time indoors. While this is a somber fact especially for the avid outdoorsman, the real problem lies in the fact that pollutants are two to five times more concentrated indoors. Because of this concentration of contaminants, indoor air pollution is a serious problem for homes in Columbia, Maryland, and beyond. However, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Use technology, natural techniques, and other hacks to help reduce indoor air pollutants for a healthier family and more breathable air.
Upgrade Your Air Filter
Your first line of defense against indoor air pollutants lies within your HVAC system. Both furnaces and air conditioners have filters made of layered cotton or polyester that prevent particles from entering the home. However, these filters are far from foolproof, especially if you opt for a thrifty purchase.
Each filter comes with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, rating that determines how effective the filter is at removing debris from the air. MERV ratings range from 1 to 20, with most residential filters falling between 1 and 12. Window air conditioning units often use filters with a rating from 1 to 4, while central air typically gets a filter with a 5 to 8 rating.
When you want superior filtration, head to the hardware store and look for a rating between 9 and 12. These filters are finer than other filters, allowing fewer particles from reaching your ductwork. For a few more dollars, you can ensure the air you breathe is purer than ever before.
Regardless of which filter you buy, don’t forget to change it every 30 to 90 days depending on the workload of your HVAC system. Not only does this ensure better air quality, but it also prevents wear and tear on your HVAC system that could necessitate maintenance or repairs.
Consider an Air Purifier
Although your furnace and air conditioner filters do a decent job at removing indoor air pollutants, it’s certainly not the most effective device. When you still notice poor air quality in your home even after upgrading your filter, you may want to consider an air purifier. Air purifiers install directly into your HVAC system and are up to 99 percent effective at removing viruses, bacteria, mold, pollen, and debris from the air. These units aren’t just aimed at treated or improving air quality issues. They’re used to eradicate the issue and prevent it altogether.
Try a Humidifier
During the winter, the air dries out both inside and outside and poses a significant problem to air quality. When the air is dry, it can cause a plethora of health problems including coughing, nosebleeds, dry and flaky skin, and bronchitis, as well as aggravate ailments you may already have. Recent EPA studies show that the optimal relative home humidity to relieve health issues is somewhere between 30 to 50 percent with an emphasis or your particular comfort tastes.
If you notice dry sinuses or scaly skin, it’s a sign that your home suffers from low humidity. To rectify the situation, consider a whole-home humidifier or a portable unit. These units constantly emanate moisture into your home, creating a more breathable situation and nullifying sicknesses. In addition, a humidifier can add the moisture necessary to protect wood surfaces, flooring, and furniture in your home. With a one-two punch of physical and mental wellness, you can enjoy winter or eagerly await spring without worry.
Install a Dehumidifier
The problems with humidity don’t go away when the temperatures warm up. In summer, humidity can rise quickly, filling your home with excessive moisture. While this may not adversely affect you, it creates conditions that are conducive to mold and bacteria growth. When high humidity goes untreated, these organisms can multiply in any room in the home, but especially the kitchen, bathroom, and basement. In addition, high humidity can also increase the occurrence of allergic reactions, so if you have a family member with allergies, take note.
A home dehumidifier does just the opposite of a humidifier. Installed in your HVAC system, a dehumidifier removes moisture from the air as it passes through your HVAC system. When coupled with an air purifier, air pollutants don’t stand a chance. If you’re wondering if you have excessive moisture in the home, look for condensation on your windows. When humidity is too high, water can pool on windows and even drip down onto window sills, creating a Petri dish for harmful organisms.
Buy Some Houseplants
Although houseplants can brighten the appearance of your home with life and color, they also have another awesome benefit. They remove pollutants from the air. When plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air for photosynthesis, they also purify the air and emit oxygen as a result of the process. Even more astounding, certain micro-organisms in potting soil have been known to purify the air as well.
While all houseplants are effective at cleaning the air to some degree, let NASA help you make the decision. In the early 2010s, NASA conducted research on houseplants to help purify the air on space stations. The resulting study showed that plants such as Boston ferns, spider plants, garden mums, weeping figs, peace lilies, aloe vera plants, and bamboo were the most effective at purifying the air. Even if these aren’t your first choices, you can still put them around the house as a complement to your favorite flowers or other plants.
Get Your Ductwork Cleaned
The air ducts in your home circulate treated air, providing comfort throughout the year. Unfortunately, they aren’t self-cleaning. That’s why every five to 10 years, you should consider a duct cleaning. When you get a professional duct cleaning, you remove any dust, debris, or pests that would otherwise get spewed into your living area. This provides cleaner air that can improve your health and keep you free from contaminants. Plus, a duct cleaning can remove any foul odors that might get into your ducts as a result of pets, smoking, or household cleaning agents.
Speaking of household cleaning agents, you shouldn’t go overkill with the bleach or ammonia. In fact, many household cleaners have volatile organic compounds, which are one of the most harmful things you can breathe in your home. To curb the pollution from these products, consider green products composed of only natural ingredients. You might think that green products don’t work as well as harsher chemical, but if you find cleaners with citrus oil, you may find that they work just as well.
Let Your House Breathe
One of the biggest problems with air pollutants in your home is that they have nowhere to go. Paint fumes, volatile organic compounds, air fresheners, vinyl, and more emanate throughout your home, but if you don’t let them out, it can spell problems. If the weather cooperates, make sure to open your windows and doors to let fresh air in from the outside. This helps these fumes to dissipate, and you’ll get the breathable air you desire.
Install a UV Lamp
Air purifiers are amazing at cleaning your air, but you can bolster this purification process with the help of a UV lamp. These germicidal lamps, which resemble a black light, can kill bacteria, mold, viruses, and any other contaminant that passes through your HVAC system. You can also put UV lamps over the drip pan to your air conditioner, which is one of the favorite breeding ground of bacteria and mold.
Take It Outside
If you have a family member that smokes, tell them it’s time to take it outside. Cigarette smoke has hundreds of hazardous chemicals which can cause health problems. Ask politely yet firmly that they take it outside. Your lungs and your family will thank you.
Don’t let poor indoor air quality ruin your family’s health. With the air quality products you need, factory-trained technicians, and years of experience, Griffith Energy Services is the only call you need to make. Give us a ring today at 888-474-3391.
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