How’s the air quality of your home? You’ve been cooped up all winter. The air in your home feels stale like you’ve been breathing it over and over for months. You have. In fact, today’s homes are so energy efficient that they trap more pollutants, especially during the winter months. And with us spending 90% of our time indoors (and even more during the winter), it’s no wonder that indoor pollutants are ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health. Add to that stale air the that 8 out of 10 Americans are exposed to dust mites and 6 out of 10 are regularly exposed to pet dander and you’ll soon see the reason why we welcome spring with its open windows, fresh air, and general sense of well-being.
So what can you do to improve the air quality in your home? Here are eight easy steps:
Dust your home regularly. It seems obvious, but a regular dusting of your home can help to prevent build up of allergens and other pollutants, improving your home’s air quality.
Change your home’s air filters. We’re talking about your furnace’s filters here (that you should replace regularly), but also giving a wash to things like filters in your bathrooms, kitchen stove hood, and even your dryer. If you have humidifiers, those need regular cleaning too. You should be using furnace or whole house air exchange filters that capture at least 85% of large airborne particles.
Ventilate your home. Remove air pollution by using ventilation fans in kitchens and bathrooms. Also make sure that your dryer is venting to the outside.
Reduce humidity. This isn’t always so much a problem in our area of the country, but new homes tend to trap in air as well as humidity. Maintain a level of 30%-50% year round. You may have to use humidifiers in the winter and dehumidifers in the more damp months.
Test for radon. Get a radon kit to test your home for traces of this gas. You may also wish to bring in a qualified and registered radon testing company and mitigator.
Install a carbon monoxide alarm. The “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is virtually undetectable to the human nose and respiratory system. Installing new units, testing them regularly, and keeping batteries fresh (replace twice a year) can help keep you home free from this pollutant.
Open windows. To increase fresh air in your home, open windows and doors whenever possible. it may seem obvious, but you’ll be amazed at how it can improve the air quality in your home.
Wash and vacuum. Wash bedding and vacuum carpets and furniture weekly to reduce dust build-up and help improve overall air quality.
One last tip? An annual, professional cleaning of your home’s floors (including carpeting, area rugs, hardwood, stone and tile) and upholstery can do wonders for a once-a-year “big clean.” There’s no other real way to get your home so clean in so short a time and improve your home’s air quality.