Contrary to popular belief, the inside of your home tends to be more polluted than outside. With how Americans typically spend 90% of their time indoors and with how that percentage usually increases during the frigid winter months, improving your indoor air quality in winter is essential. Bad indoor air quality can lead to respiratory problems, irritated eyes and throats, headaches, fatigue, and more. Here’s what you need to know about what causes indoor air pollution and what you can do to improve your indoor air quality in winter, and all year round.
What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?
When the Environmental Protection Agency states that the air inside the average American home is two to five times more polluted than the air quality outside, that’s quite a shock. It makes sense how outside air can get polluted, with fossil fuel emissions, greenhouse gases, and more. There’s a lot contributing to pollution and climate change outside. But your home? Even if you burn multiple candles in every room, it surely can’t make the air inside your home that much worse, right? So, what causes indoor air pollution?
Indoor air pollution is caused by a number of factors, some of which originate inside your home, and others are brought in from outside it. Common culprits of indoor air pollution include: cleaning supplies, bug spray, paint, tobacco, pet dander (such as shedding), and more. Volatile Organic Compounds, also called VOCs, play a significant role in indoor air pollution. VOCs are gases emitted by household items, like air fresheners, and these can be two to five times higher than in outside air. Natural gas emissions such as from your gas stove, can even exceed emissions outside your home.
Your indoor air quality in winter is also impacted by outdoor air. Smoke can get in through your windows or HVAC system, pollutants can latch onto the dust that gets inside your home, and other elements that seep into or are brought into your home, such as dirt and other allergens.
Why Is Indoor Air Quality In Winter Worse?
There are many things inside your home that can result in indoor air pollution and worsened indoor air quality in winter. Mold, mildew, dust, and so many factors worsen the very air you breathe and pose potential health risks. Your indoor air quality in winter can be made worse by the very things that you do to make your home more comfortable in winter: insulation. These result in a high concentration of indoor air pollutants, and thus, your indoor air quality in winter is worsened.
Plus, cold air can stagnate, there are more people inside – especially if you have people over, winter is cold and flu season, and if you have issues with your heating system, that can contribute to worsened indoor air quality in winter.
How Can You Improve Indoor Air Quality In Winter?
Luckily, poor indoor air quality can be helped. You want the air you breathe to be good quality, especially if it is where you are spending most of your time. Your HVAC system is one such way that you can improve your indoor air quality in winter. The Environmental Protection Agency states that one way to reduce VOCs in your home is through proper ventilation, something your HVAC system helps with.
Regularly changing the air filters in your system will ensure that they continue to filter the air in your home, trapping dust and dirt and other contaminants, which improves your indoor air quality (IAQ) while also extending the lifespan of your heating system and improving its efficiency. Proper ventilation is essential to improving the air quality of your home, and if you don’t maintain your HVAC system, you can actually end up with worsened air quality, due to the fact that it’s not being cleaned and ergo, can’t do its job properly.
Scheduling regular furnace maintenance also helps your indoor air quality in winter, because if your heating system is having to work overtime in order to do its job, it can bring more dust and pollutants into your air.
In addition to contacting your local HVAC technician, you can also try the EPA’s recommended source control, which is regularly cleaning your home from pet fur and the like, opening your windows to get fresh air circulating now and again, getting an air purification system, using indoor plants, and more.
Do You Need Help Improving Your Indoor Air Quality In Winter?
R & D Heating And Air knows how essential your indoor air quality is for your health and comfort, especially in the winter months. There’s no need to tolerate poor indoor air quality in winter. If you’d like to improve your indoor air quality in winter or any other time of year, our trained professionals can help. We specialize in air quality enhancements for your systems so that you can breathe easy. To learn more about how we can help you improve your indoor air quality in winter, don’t hesitate to contact us today!