Improve Your Winter Indoor Air Quality: Four Easy Tips

Four Ways to Improve Your Winter Indoor Air Quality in Havertown, PA

People usually think about their indoor air quality, or IAQ, once spring rolls around and the pollen count spikes. But, winter can be just as bad — just in a different way.

Fortunately, it’s also easy to improve your IAQ in the winter. You just have to know what you’re looking for and what to do about it.

In this post, we’ll touch on why you should be considering your air quality in the cold weather. Then, we’ll look at some of the common problems.

This way, when we get to those four easy tips, they’ll make even more sense — and seem even more manageable.

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Why Indoor Air Quality is Important in the Winter

Improve Your Winter Indoor Air Quality: Four Easy TipsIndoor air quality becomes an issue in the winter in large part because people keep their windows closed all the time. Then, all those pollutants that should circulate out of the house get trapped in there.

And, anything you track in has no place to go. So, it builds up.

Your HVAC system plays a role in this, too. It can add some contaminants to the air, which we’ll look at later.

But, a big problem people overlook is just how dry your furnace can make your home — and the effect that has on your health.

Dry Heat

Dry Heat

Warm air is naturally much more humid than cold air. It’s why we get hot and sticky in the summer.

On the flip side, cold air retains less moisture. It’s much drier. So, in the winter, you’ve already got dry air.

Cue the itchy eyes, dry skin, and, for some people, nosebleeds.

So, you’d think turning on the heater would fix that. After all, the warm air is humid, right?

Not heat from a furnace. The system is warming the cold (and dry) air artificially — without adding humidity. That makes it extra dry.

Cue those problems — only worse.

We’ll look more into how to handle a situation like this. But first, let’s look at some common indoor pollutants.

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Common Winter Indoor Air Quality Problems

People’s homes suffer from poor indoor air quality primary because of pollutants that build up without a place to go. Three common problems are:

  • Combustion From Your Furnace
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)
  • Pet Dander and Dirt

Let’s look at these a little closer.

Combustion From Your Furnace

If you use gas, oil, coal, or wood to heat your home, then your HVAC system creates thermal energy by burning fossil fuels. That means it’s creating smoke, soot, even carbon monoxide.

Your HVAC system should do a good job of getting rid of those through the exhaust system. But, of course, nothing’s perfect.

And if you haven’t gotten your system cleaned or inspected in a while, chances are it’s not working the way it should. Or, there’s enough built up in it that it’s not all exiting through the exhaust.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are chemical compounds that can vaporize easily. That means those substances can easily end up in the air. And, they’re not healthy.

In our home, we’re talking anything from those combustion elements to odors from cooking or tobacco smoke to fumes and compounds from nail polish, furniture cleaner, and other everyday products.

In small amounts, these don’t pose much of a problem. But, if they build up, and if someone’s sensitive to them, they can become hazardous.

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Pet Dander and Dirt

Of course, pet dander and dirt aren’t a problem for everyone. But, if you share the house with some four-legged, furry, or feathered friends, you should take stock of how they affect your indoor air quality.

First is dander, which is like dandruff for animals. It’s what they shed — along with fur and feathers, of course.

And, all of those can make it hard to breathe after a while. That’s especially so for people with allergies.

Then, there’s the dirt they track in from outside.

Humans do it too, of course. But, we’re a little more conscious of it. Hopefully, at least.

Either way, it adds up to a lot of allergens and contaminants with no place to go when the windows are closed.

Four Ways to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality This Winter

  1. Change Your Air Filter
  2. Get On a Cleaning Schedule
  3. Use a Humidifier
  4. Get a Whole-Home Air Purifier

Change Your Air Filter

How often should I change my heater air filter?

The first step toward breathing easy at home is changing your air filter. Since it’s responsible for preventing dust and other garbage from floating through the air, you want it working its best.

And, after three months or so, it’s not doing that anymore. Too much debris in it, and it puts a strain on the system.

So, be sure to change it every season. And, if you suffer from allergies or respiratory problems, look into stronger filters.

Get On a Cleaning Schedule

Next, take a good honest look at how often you clean your home and what that entails. If you have pets, especially, you should strategically clean at least once a week.

That means focusing on places where dust and dirt collect. We’re talking windowsills, counters, and tops of door frames.

There are plenty of places you don’t often look at or think about where all sorts of contaminants can collect.

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Use a Humidifier

We talked before about how your heater blows hot, dry air. And how that can be a bad thing for some people.

The solution to excessively dry air is a humidifier. That’s probably not a huge revelation: Most people have seen or used a small humidifier for a single room.

But, you can also treat the whole house with one that connects to your HVAC system.

It’s less to think about when you’re not continually turning it on and off and filling it with water. And, it’s much more effective when it treats the entire house.

Get a Whole-Home Air Purifier

Air Scrubber Giveaway

Ultimately, the best way to keep your air clean is with a whole-home air purifier. Like the humidifiers we mention, these attach to the heating system. And, they make a huge difference.

First, they act passively, like your filter, catching dirt and contaminants as they pass through.

But, they also use space technology to seek out and neutralize contaminants throughout the house actively.

At John Cipollone, for instance, we often install the Air Scrubber by Aerus. IT gets rid of about 90 percent of airborne contaminants.

That includes bacteria, germs, and other particles that can make you sick.

We suggest starting with anything you can do yourself: Cleaning regularly, changing your air filter, even trying a small humidifier.

Then, if you want to do more, give us a call here at John Cipollone. We’ll help you find the strategies that fit your home — and your health — the best.

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