Winter is a time where you might expect some relief from allergens and the allergies that they cause. Actually, however, the colder months can prove to be very challenging for those with indoor air allergies caused by dust and the allergens that are contained within and associated with it. Pollutants, allergens, and other debris may be lingering in your air whether you see them or not. Your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ) can make a big difference, especially to those with allergies and respiratory issues. According to the EPA the air that we breathe in our homes, in schools and in offices can put us at risk for health problems. Improving your IAQ means that you are working to reduce allergens such as dust, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, and other impurities – all to help you and your family all breathe a bit easier.
Five Tips for Improving Your Winter IAQ
Circulation – This is actually a form of air replacement, which can surprisingly be most beneficial during the winter months when you typically keep your home closed up (for obvious reasons). Pick a warmer winter day and allow some clean, fresh air to circulate throughout the home. This can refresh your indoor air quality and allow the allergens that are “trapped” inside your house or home a chance to move outside.
Humidity – Many allergens, such as dust mites, mold, and bacteria thrive in overly-humid conditions. More humid air is often desired in the cold, dry months, but ideally you should try to keep the humidity level around 35%-50%. Be sure to replace your humidifier filters with fresh humidifier pads or filters about twice per season. Using bathroom exhaust fans is also highly recommended when enjoying hot showers to keep the moisture level down. Keep an eye on basements and storage areas as well, which are also ideal locations for potential moisture.
Smoke – This tiny vapor particle, in any form, affects your indoor air quality (IAQ). Examples can include smoke from tobacco, fireplaces, cooking, and even candles. While some of these can produce a desirable scent or cozy atmosphere, they are technically not contributors to improving the quality of the air you breathe. This does not mean that we should not enjoy and use our fireplaces less during those snowy days and nights, but it is something to be aware of as smoke particles can be bothersome to most respiratory conditions.
Air Filtration – Your furnace filters can be a huge help by going beyond the basic purpose of just protecting your system. This is your air filter’s main job, but you can actually benefit from the added level of defense it can provide in cleansing your air of impurities. Make sure you always keep on a regular schedule with changing your air filters. This will allow your system to function optimally and continuously provide new surface area for dust and allergens to collect on.
Regular Cleaning – Of course, we all know that maintaining a clean home will only help in keeping the level of contaminants and dust to a minimum. Once dust and debris have settled, it will be much more difficult for them to be picked up by your furnace filter unless the area is disturbed. This will re-disperse the dust, allowing another opportunity for it to be captured. Unfortunately, it will eventually settle again. Dust is an ongoing battle that must be controlled at the source. Regular vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning of surfaces is one sure way to help tackle these issues and improve your IAQ!
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