It’s the time of year when we are spending most of our time indoors. That means we are exposed to more recirculated air and less fresh air from outside the home. Indoor air quality can contribute to our health and well-being more than many of us realize. By keeping down the dust and dander often found floating inside our homes this time of year, we can improve our health and the overall cleanliness of our living space.
Change Your Air Filters
A major contributor to poor indoor air quality is a dirty furnace filter. If not replaced regularly, a furnace filter can collect enough airborne particles to substantially reduce the circulation in the home. A lack of adequate ventilation leads to poor air quality, as contaminants build up in the home and are not filtered properly.
Solve this problem by changing your furnace filter on a regular basis. Be sure to use a filter with a high MERV rating, which stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Every furnace filter has a MERV rating, which measures how efficiently the filter captures particles of specific sizes that pass through it as the furnace is operating. The higher the MERV rating the more efficient the filter is at removing particles from the air.
As you might expect, a higher MERV rating equates to a higher cost. If someone in the home suffers from allergies, the increased expense of a higher rated filter may be worth it. Another advantage to changing the furnace filter is that doing so on a regular basis can save as much as 15% on energy costs to run the furnace.
Vacuum Cleaner Filters
If you want to maximize the cleaning efficiency of your vacuum cleaner, make sure you use a HEPA filter. HEPA filters are finely woven filters that can catch extremely small particles down to 0.3 micrometers. Additionally, vacuum filters should be changed before the bag is full as in many models a fuller bag causes a noticeable reduction in the efficiency of the vacuum.
Room air purifiers come in many forms. One popular type, ionic machines, are made up of metal plates that attract and hold pollutants. These require regular cleaning to remain effective.
Use Natural Cleaning Products
Many of the household cleaning products we take for granted are dangerous to our skin and respiratory health. Ammonia and chlorine are just two harsh cleaners that can be absorbed into upholstery, drapes, and carpets. These chemicals are then leached back into the air over time. Switching to natural cleaning products is just as effective in cleaning your home but don’t expose you to the risk of chemicals and toxins.
Be sure to store household cleaners and other solvents where their vapors won’t be circulated through the home. Too often the furnace closet seems like a good place to store cleaning items when, in fact, storing chemicals here can be detrimental to your health.