Improving Winter Indoor Air Quality (And Your Heater) For Pet Owners
Controlling indoor air quality is already a challenge for many homeowners. Studies show that there’s more air pollution in many homes than there is outside. And, when it comes to people with pets, the problem is even worse.
If you or someone you know suffers from allergies or respiratory problems such as asthma, then you know all about this. Or, you may not realize just how much your pets are affecting things.
Either way, winter is an especially important time for pet owners in Havertown, PA, area to think about their indoor air quality.
And, improving it isn’t as hard as you may think.
In this post, we’ll look at why winter — and pets — make such a big difference. And, we’ll give you some tips, tricks, and products to consider that will improve things for you.
How Pets Affect Indoor Air Quality
Pet owners, in particular, have some unique challenges keeping their home clean in the winter. Dirt, fur, dander, and feathers affect indoor air quality — especially in homes with forced-air heat.
Most homes use ductwork and vents to circulate warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer. These also use return vents that draw air into the system.
When you have pets, all those extra contaminants get thrown into the mix.
And, in the winter, it’s an even bigger problem. Once it gets cold out, you shut the windows. At least in the fall or spring, some of those particles could make their way outside.
Now, however, they’re trapped inside. And, if you have pets you take outside (we’re looking at you, dogs), that’s more dirt and dust they’re bringing in that has nowhere else to go.
Then there’s dander, which is the pet equivalent of dandruff. Those tiny particles can trigger allergies for people.
So, as you’re likely to even more time than usual indoors when it’s cold, it’s important to work on your indoor air quality. Not only will doing so alleviate symptoms for allergy and asthma sufferers. Everyone will breathe a little better with less pollution.
Four Ways Pet Owners Can Improve Winter Indoor Air Quality
Here are four steps pet owners can take in the winter to improve their indoor air quality:
- Use Stronger Air Filters
- Groom Your Pets Regularly
- Keep Toys Away From Vents
- Use a Whole-Home Air Purifier
Let’s take a closer look at these.
Use Stronger Air Filters
Your furnace air filter is responsible for trapping small particles, so they don’t circulate through your house. The average ones do a good enough job catching larger objects like fur. But, for pets, you need to go smaller.
In this case, we’re looking mostly at dander and other tiny particles. For these, you want an air filter that’s made to trap allergens. These are often small enough to pass right through the regular screens.
You can look for filters that specifically address allergens or homes with pets. Or, go by the MERV ratings. The higher the rating, the smaller particles they’ll capture.
Just be sure not to go overboard: The smaller the particles these filters screen out, the harder it is for air to pass through them.
You don’t want to get a filter that’s so strong it weakens your HVAC system’s airflow.
Finally, change your filter every two months instead of three. Maybe even more if you have more than one pet. They’ll fill up faster than in homes without any furry friends.
Groom Your Pets Regularly
Next, remember to wash and groom your pets regularly. Most people do this already. But, once the weather gets colder and the holidays start rolling around, people get busy with plans, shopping, and other things.
So, it’s easy to let things like washing the dog or brushing fur from the cats fall behind.
But, once you turn your heater on, it’s essential to stay on top of those grooming habits. The more dirt, fur, and dander you get rid of, the less your HVAC system deals with.
The same goes for litter boxes: The more often you change them out, the better it is for everyone.
Finally, make sure you have a good, consistent cleaning schedule. No matter how neat you keep them, your dogs, cats, and birds will still shed. The more often you get rid of that, the better you’ll feel inside.
Keep Toys Away From Vents
Keeping pet toys away from vents also keeps the pets away from vents. This way, you avoid fur and dander from getting into the ductwork.
Here’s the problem: those contaminants probably won’t make it to the filter. Sure, if it’s a return vent, the air will get sucked into the system and pass the screen.
Otherwise, however, those particles will build up in the duct until you turn on the heat. Then, the forced air will push it back out into the room. That spreads it even further.
And, of course, not all of it will escape. So, you’ll get buildup and eventually need to pay for duct cleaning.
Now, it’s nearly impossible to keep your four-legged family members away from the vents all the time. And, you don’t want to block those vents, because then the air won’t circulate properly.
But, you can make those areas less appealing. The easiest way is to keep their food and toys away from them. That reduces the amount of time they’ll spend near the ductwork.
Use a Whole-Home Air Purifier
If you’re ready for the big guns, then a whole-home air purifier is the way to go.
You’ve probably seen smaller purifiers that handle one room. But, those won’t do the trick unless you’ve got a bird or other animal that’s always in a cage or tank.
For cats and dogs, especially, you want a whole-home product. These attach directly to your HVAC system. This way, it treats the air as it passes through the system.
In that way, they’re similar to air filters. But, they’re much more aggressive and comprehensive.
Many of the high-end ones use electricity to trap and eradicate pollutants. Along with that, you’ll find ones with carbon-activated elements that take care of odors too.
Theses are a little more of a financial commitment than anything else on this list. But the difference is very noticeable. They even make a significant impact on homes without pets or excessive indoor air pollution.
If you’re interested in a whole-home air purifier or other ways you can use your HVAC system to improve your indoor air quality, give us a call or email here at Cipollone. We’ll help you breathe better in your Havertown, PA-area home all winter — and all year ‘round.