What can I do to better the quality of air in my home?
There are several things you can do to make your home a healthier place to live:
- Purchase energy efficient appliances. Energy efficient appliances can not only help reduce harmful emissions compared to older or poorly maintained models, but also save you money on your monthly energy bills. They are also generally quieter and better at performing their tasks. Look for the EPA Energy Star® label when buying appliances.
- Educate yourself concerning your selection of furniture and cleaning products. Consider products that are low-emission and non-polluting when you are planning the design and construction of your home.
- Make yourself aware of the total exposed surface area of materials used. Low-emission materials that have a large amount of exposed surface area can be just as polluting as high-emission materials and finishes with smaller surface area.
- Increase ventilation. Since homes are now built and updated to be more energy efficient they are more tightly sealed against the outside elements to help keep the house cooler or warmer depending on the outside weather. The potential down side of this is highly insulated and “super-tight”, which can create an inadequate ventilation situation. This can increase indoor pollution levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air and therefore not allowing indoor pollutants to escape to the outside. Your HVAC technician can perform tests to determine if ventilation is adequate, and air exchangers or other products are available for very tightly-sealed homes. These will help to maintain both energy efficiency and good air quality.
- Schedule routine maintenance of HVAC systems.
- Use care when using paints, adhesives, solvents, pesticides and hazardous cleaning products – use them only in well-ventilated areas.
- Install/change filters as indicated by the manufacturer, such as furnace filters. Typical filters are inexpensive but will not capture small particles of pollutants. More effective filters (electrostatic, HEPA) are available that will capture these smaller particles. Such filters can help reduce allergies in sensitive individuals as well.