With the days getting shorter and temperatures dropping, chances are you will be spending more and more time inside your home. As you prepare for winter, one thing you might not have thought about is your home’s air quality. Over the last few decades, the number of synthetic chemicals used in products for the home has increased drastically, and the EPA now estimates that indoor pollutants are as much as 70 times higher than pollutants in outside air. What can you do to combat these pollutants and improve the air quality in your home? Read on for some of our suggestions.
Choose Materials Wisely
How your home is built affects long-term air quality, so if you are building a home or an addition, choose materials that are naturally friendlier to the environment. For floors, using tile or solid wood rather than composites cuts down on the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds released into your home. Avoid using plywood or particle board in your home, due to the high volume of formaldehyde found in this type of wood. Solid wood is a much better choice for cabinets, shelving and furniture. You can also look for paints that are “low VOC” or “VOC-free,” which are varieties of pant that are much less toxic to the surrounding air.
Carpet is one of the largest items in your home that can contribute to lower air quality just with its presence. In fact, many experts recommend using as little carpet in your home as possible if you are prone to allergies or asthma. If you do find yourself choosing new carpet, opt for a natural fiber like wool or sisal, and specifically look for a carpet that is “green label” certified for its natural content. Ask if your carpet can be installed using nails instead of glue, and request that in a renovation or new addition, the carpet installation come after other projects such as paint and wall coverings. Also, aim to air out the newly carpeted room for several days prior to occupying it.
Keep Mold At Bay
The key to preventing mold growth in your home is to limit the amount of moisture that occurs. If you experience a water leak, be sure to clean it up immediately, prior to worrying about repairs. Use dehumidifiers as needed to make sure the humidity in your home stays below 60%, and don’t use carpet in any rooms that tend to stay damp, as this will trap the moisture and prevent it from airing out. Make sure all pipes, attics and crawl spaces are properly insulated, and check the seals on your windows to make sure extra moisture isn’t finding its way in.
Clean Your Air
When you clean your home, use environmentally friendly products whenever possible. Replace filters in your heating and air system monthly, and have your ductwork cleaned every 2-3 years. Houseplants are great at cleaning air naturally, so place 1-2 easily maintained indoor plants in every main room of your home. Great air-cleaning plant options include bamboo palm, lady palm, parlor palm, and moth orchids. And if you have done any renovations, try to air out those rooms for at least a week before you return to normal use.