Improve Your Indoor Air Quality During Winter

home air quality

The air inside your home can contain two to five times higher concentrations of pollutants than the air outdoors. Many common indoor pollutants are allergens, such as dust, pollen, mold spores and pet dander. Some are far worse for your health, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and radon which can cause cancer. Limiting your exposure to pollutants won’t just help you breathe easier; it could even save your life!

Since outdoor air is typically cleaner than indoor air, opening your windows is one of the quickest ways to improve your indoor air quality. But if you live in the Sioux Falls, SD area, you’re probably about as willing to open your windows during wintertime as astronauts are while they’re aboard the International Space Station. So how can you improve your indoor air quality during winter without freezing? Here are a few pointers!

Clean Your Home More Often

If you spend more time indoors during winter, you’re also creating more indoor pollutants. The skin cells which naturally fall off your body are contributing to more dust. As much as they love you, your dear old dog is shedding irritating dander. Your stove is emitting exhaust. Your dryer is producing mold spores. Even your favorite scented candles are generating trace amounts of toxic smoke.

Cleaning more frequently helps to remove all of these pollutants from your home’s surfaces before they can become airborne again. Consider wearing a face mask while you’re dusting and vacuuming. Installing a HEPA filter in your vacuum can remove a wide range of allergens with 99.97% efficiency. And if you do use powerful cleaning products like ammonia or bleach, consider temporarily cracking a window to let some of those noxious fumes exit your home.

Clean Your Air Ducts

Cleaning your air ducts won’t just promote greater HVAC system efficiency. It will also remove the dust, pollen, bacteria, VOCs, mold spores and other pollutants that commonly aggregate within a home’s ventilation system. The EPA does not recommend regular air duct cleaning; the government agency instead advises cleaning ducts as needed. HVAC companies recommend duct cleaning every three to five years – or more frequently, if your home has several children or pets that track pollutants indoors.

Replace Your HVAC System’s Air Filters

Clogged air filters require HVAC units to expend up to 15% more energy. But you won’t just pay more to heat your home while its HVAC system’s air filters are dirty; you will also place unnecessary strain on your furnace’s moving parts, which will shorten its lifespan while increasing your chances of having to pay for repairs. Worse yet, dirty air filters are significantly less effective at removing pollutants from the air you breathe indoors!

The frequency with which you should replace your air filters depends on the type of filters you purchase. Economical fiberglass filters demand replacement once every month, whereas high-tech HEPA filters can easily last for six months. But if your home has young children or multiple pets, you may wish to replace your HVAC filters more often. 

Install an Air Purifier

Whether you incorporate one into your HVAC system or add a standalone unit to your living space, an air purifier will live up to its name. You may choose an ultraviolet (UV) light purifier, which destroys microorganisms’ DNA by bombarding them with otherwise harmless electromagnetic radiation. UV light requires only five seconds to eradicate 100% of the bacteria it shines against!

Alternatively, you may purchase an ionic air purifier. This device does not actually kill microorganisms. Instead it electrically charges microscopic particles such as dust, pollen and bacteria until they clump together and become too heavy to stay airborne. Once the particles have slumped to the floor, removing them is as easy as vacuuming.

Increase Indoor Humidity

Pollutants aren’t the only factor which contributes to poor indoor air quality. Colder air and increased use of the furnace can also make the air inside your home too dry, which may irritate your eyes, throat and skin!

The relative humidity inside your home should fall between 30 and 50%. If your hygrometer indicates that your humidity has dipped to the teens or twenties, take action by purchasing a dehumidifier. Alternatively, you may leave the tub full after you have showered, hang your laundry to dry indoors, or add more potted plants to your home.

Improve Indoor Ventilation

As we alluded to earlier, opening windows during a Midwestern winter is quite out of the question. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to improve indoor ventilation. You can switch your ceiling fans to winter mode, which reverses the direction in which their blades spin to pull cold air upward. You can run your bathroom and kitchen fans even while you aren’t bathing or cooking. You may also install a heat recovery ventilator – a brilliant little device which moves stale air out of your home without letting heat escape in the process.

Sometimes enjoying better indoor air quality during the wintertime requires the assistance of an HVAC professional. If you would like to add a humidifier, air purifier or heat recovery ventilator to your home in the greater Sioux Falls, SD area, then we welcome you to contact PrairieSons today!