During the colder months, it’s hard to get fresh outdoor air inside your home. We keep our windows and doors closed tight to prevent heat loss and tend to have our homes sealed from the outside elements. So, how do we keep the air in our homes fresh during the winter? The answer is all about air quality control and keeping track of what YOU add to the air.
Pay Attention To What You Bring Inside
In the summer, we tend to go outside to perform household tasks like painting and staining, but in the winter, going outside to do those same things just isn’t an option. You may go to a basement or a garage away from the rest of the family, but that won’t prevent the harmful chemicals and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from being in your home. VOCs are found in paints, stains, cleaning products, and even things like carpet and furniture, so you need to pay close attention to what you bring into your home.
When it comes to repainting a room or furniture, sometimes you just can’t wait until summer. For that, you can crack a window open if you need to paint a room, but it will waste a lot of heat energy. It’s best to use a paint labeled with no VOCs or low VOCs.
Also, if you are doing a deep cleaning before the New Year, try to choose products that are free of harsh chemicals. They sell these products in the cleaning aisle or you can try making them yourself by using these suggestions from Good Housekeeping.
Keep Harmful Elements Out Of Your House
In addition to keeping VOCS and other chemicals out of your home, it’s important to stop cancer-causing elements like tobacco smoke and radon gas from getting trapped inside your house.
If you or someone in your family is a smoker, it’s time to take it outside to ensure good quality air. Baby, it’s cold outside – but your family’s health will be better off if cigarettes are out of the area where they are living and breathing.
Testing for radon – an odorless, colorless radioactive gas that seeps up from the earth – is also an important step for making sure the air in your home is safe to breathe. The American Lung Association says radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind tobacco. Radon is most dangerous in high levels and especially if you have long-term exposure to it.
You are in luck, though. Winter is the best time to perform a radon test because your home is closed up. A simple test can tell you if you have radon levels that are unsafe in your home, and if you need to make changes to remedy it. To get a discounted radon test kit, Minnesota residents can buy them directly on the Minnesota Dept. Of Health website.
Invest In Whole House Ventilation
Last, but certainly not least, make sure your home has a good ventilation system. Good ventilation will keep fresh air in and pollutants out. A ventilation system is part of your HVAC system (that’s what the ‘V’ stands for in HVAC), but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are optimizing your home’s air quality. According to the United States Dept. Of Energy, there are four basic mechanical whole house ventilation systems (exhaust, supply, balanced, and energy recovery). But if you are looking to reduce heating and cooling costs while also getting great ventilation, heat recovery ventilators are a prime choice because they can push stale air out of your home, without losing the all the heat generated from your furnace.
For more information on improving air quality in the winter, check out the tips in this article we also wrote about the topic.