As the winter chill sets in, you lock the windows up tight, maybe replace the weather stripping in your doors, and settle in for the cold, dark nights. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and winter sounds pretty cozy!
But it can also be a health hazard, especially in relatively new homes where Energy Star windows and doors are designed to seal up your home as tight as a drum. On the plus side, that’s great for energy savings since it keeps the warm air in and the drafts out.
But on the down side, we need a certain amount of fresh air every day, and our tightly sealed homes aren’t allowing enough of it in. All that sealing not only keeps warm air in, but keeps germs, allergens, pet dander and harmful chemical vapors in, too.
Worse, there are other sources of indoor air pollution that you may not be considering. Wood burning stoves, for example, are great at heating and add a special ambiance, but ash will make its way into your air – and likely end up on surfaces like tables and even bed pillows.
Dust from dryer vents can also become airborne and end up recirculated throughout your home. Air fresheners, so tempting during stuffy winter months, constantly release chemicals into the air. A favorite hobby, if it includes painting, varnishing or adhesives can be a source of chemical pollution. Even that bag of microwave popcorn emits fumes that can be irritating.
Imagine all of that sealed up with you all winter long!
It’s no wonder colds and flus spread like wildfire, allergies never seem to end and you may even suffer from headaches or mood swings.
But you can stop the madness – from simple maintenance activities to HVAC overhauls, there is a lot you can do to improve your indoor air quality this winter, and all year long.
Go To The Source
The best way to reduce air pollution is to introduce less of it in the first place. You don’t need to give up your wood burning stove, but reconsider those air fresheners and try natural scents instead. A bit of citrus cut up in bowls or some cinnamon boiling in a kettle on the stove are comforting and pleasant without posing a health hazard. Grow fresh herbs like basil or mint – they’re nicely scented and the greenery can also act as an air filter.
Have your dryer vent cleaned regularly, not just to improve air quality but to avoid fire hazards. While you’re at it, consider having your ducts cleaned professionally. They can become a breeding ground for bacteria and harbor all sorts of unpleasant allergens and pollution that will keep getting recirculated throughout your home unless it’s eliminated.
Change Your Filters
Admit it – you don’t remember the last time you replaced those paper filters on your furnace. Ideally they should be changed every three to six months but the time flies and before you know it, a couple of years have passed and they’re black as soot.
Filters past their due date not only stop doing their job but they can actually damage your heating system by making it work harder to push air.
You can change the filters on your own, or better yet, have professional maintenance performed on your entire HVAC system in the fall and again in the spring. Your filters will be cleaned or replaced, and all of the components checked to be sure they’re operating efficiently and not adding fumes or other pollutants to your air.
Try In-Duct Air Filtration
If someone in your family suffers from allergies, asthma or other respiratory illnesses, clean air becomes even more important. Or if you’re a smoker, spend the winter months holed up with your favorite hobbyist’s paints and resins, or love Fido but not his shedding, then you may want to take extra steps to ensure clean air.
An in-duct air filtration system is just what it sounds like – a unit that is installed right inside your ductwork to clean and purify air as it circulates through your house, taking dirty, polluted air in and releasing clean air out.
Some systems use UV light to kill bacteria and others disperse harmless hydrogen peroxide to kill germs in the air and on surfaces. These systems are effective at eliminating up to 98% of bacteria, allergens and other airborne particulates.
Better yet, they’re hospital tested to safely reduce all three categories of pollutants including gasses, microbes and particulates.
Winter can be cozy as you settle in for shorter days by the fireplace or snuggle into your favorite blanket. If the thought of hanging out with all those germs, allergens and chemicals has you a little freaked out, call us! We can check and service your HVAC system and filters, or provide you with a free estimate to install air filtration into your home. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you breathe easier all winter long. You can reach us at (732) 316-5554 or contact us online.