Should You Worry about Your Indoor Air Quality?
With really warm weather, most of us expect to be spending a lot more time outdoors. Nevertheless, we still spend up to 90% of our time inside. And that means, just like when it’s cold, indoor air quality (IAQ) is vitally important.
What Exactly Is Indoor Air Quality and What Affects It?
It usually refers to the air quality within buildings we live in, work in or spend any time in. There a number of allergens and substances including dust, cigarette smoke and other particles in the air that reduce the quality of the air we breathe indoors. A variety of government organizations and NGOs, including the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers, as well as the Government of Canada, have published articles and guidelines for sustaining air quality indoors.
How to Improve the Air You’re Breathing
There are many effective steps you can take to significantly improve your indoor environment.
- Filters and cleaners: Just as their name implies, air filters work to filter the air that moves in and out of your HVAC system. This helps to improve the quality of your indoor air and ensures your heating and cooling system doesn’t get clogged with dust and debris. Ask your home comfort advisor or HVAC specialist about upgrading your furnace or air conditioning system with high-efficiency and HEPA air filters. Remember, opt for filter models that offer the highest MERV rating, while still fitting into your budget – and consider purchasing more than one filter at a time so you’re not scrambling the next time one needs to be changed. Installing ultra-violet (UV) lamps and electrostatic filters can also be effective.
- Consider installing a recovery ventilator: The air outside of your home is on average 3 times cleaner than the air inside your home. 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 (HRV) or enthalpy recovery (ERV) ventilator to not only supply clean, fresh air, but recover the energy and humidity from the exhaust air.
- Clean your ducts: Having your housing ducts professionally cleaned can help reduce mold, dust, animal dander and other allergens.
- Find the right humidity level: Humidity levels exceeding 50 or 60% can promote mold growth while low levels can cause excessive dryness. Try to 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 removes stale smells, too.
If you have questions about indoor air quality or if you’re interested in talking to a professional about improving your home with a humidifier or dehumidifier, don’t hesitate to call or book a no-obligation in-home consultation.