Better Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19
Even when the weather warms up, most of us still spend up to 90% of our time inside. That’s never been more true than right now as we shelter in place to protect ourselves and our families from the COVID-19 pandemic and limit our time outside to short walks or trips to the grocery store.
This all means, of course, that keeping our home environment and indoor air quality (IAQ) clean and comfortable is more important than ever.
What exactly is indoor air quality?
Indoor air quality refers to air quality within the buildings we live in, work in or spend any time in and it’s known to affect the health, comfort and well-being of building occupants.
What causes poor air quality?
According to the Government of Canada, air contaminants and pollutants present in the air can lead to health concerns.
There a number of allergens and substances of concern including dust, cigarette smoke and so-called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emitted as gases from household products like paints and aerosols. Other fine particles that reduce the quality of the air we breathe include mould, fungi, bacteria, dust mites, pollen and spores.
How to improve the air you’re breathing
A variety of government organizations and NGOs, including the Government of Canada, have published articles and guidelines for sustaining air quality indoors.
There are many effective steps you can take to significantly improve your indoor environment.
- Consider installing a recovery ventilator: Many contaminants found in indoor air are generated inside the home. These can be lowered by replacing your indoor air with air from outside. Therefore, the best way to improve your indoor air quality is to improve your ventilation and provide more clean outside air to your living space. Consider adding a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV) to not only supply clean, fresh air, but recover the energy and humidity from the exhaust air. According to the Government of Ontario, the first recommendation on reopening the economy from COVID-19 is to increase air intake for building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
- Filters and cleaners:Ask your home comfort advisor or HVAC specialist about upgrading your furnace with high-efficiency and HEPA air filters. Installing ultra-violet lamps and electrostatic filters could also be effective. (You can learn more about choosing the right air filters here and here.)
- Find the right humidity level: Humidity levels exceeding 50 or 60% can promote mould growth and while low levels could dry the eyes, nose and throat. A humidifier can keep humidity levels in your home to around 50% in the summer and 20-30% in the winter dependent on the temperature outside. If your home is too humid, a dehumidifier or an efficient air conditioner could help in the summer months.
- Open your windows: Letting your house breathe doesn’t just lower indoor humidity in the winter, it circulates and refreshes the air and can remove stale smells, too.
If you have any questions about indoor air quality or home humidity during the COVID-19 pandemic or beyond – don’t hesitate to call or book a no-obligation consultation with one of our Home Comfort Advisors.