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How Increased Time Spent at Home Can Affect Air Quality & Ways to Help Improve It
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased the amount of time people spend in their own home. This can impact your home’s air quality, which is very important for the health of you and your family. Fortunately, there are ways to improve your home’s indoor air quality. Read below to learn more!
Indoor Air Quality 101
Many factors determine your home’s indoor indoor air quality, such as temperature, ventilation, pets, humidity, radon, microbes, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and various household chemicals. Factors outside of your home can also impact the indoor air. For example, outdoor pollutants can enter your home through an open door, window, or faulty insulation. The weather and climate can also impact your home’s indoor air.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), people spend around 90% of their time indoors, and the concentration of certain pollutants can be two to five times higher than they are outdoors. These numbers are likely to be higher with people spending virtually all of their time in their home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Offices throughout the world are closed, leaving people to work from their kitchen table instead of their desk. Typical hangout spots such as restaurants, bars, movie theaters, music venues, and more are also closed, meaning people must practice social distancing and pass time on the weekends indoors.
Certain activities can also impact your home’s air quality. For example, many find themselves cooking more during their time indoors, whether for pleasure or necessity. Using heat sources such as stoves and ovens for cooking can generate harmful byproducts such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide that, if not properly ventilated, can linger in the air and decrease your indoor air quality.
Smokers may also find themselves smoking cigarettes or cigars indoors more often. Secondhand smoke can linger in the air and not only create an uncomfortable environment, but decrease your home’s air quality and jeopardize your safety.
Sick Building Syndrome
If you find yourself constantly feeling ill but cannot pinpoint the exact cause of your symptoms, you may be suffering from sick building syndrome. This condition is caused by spending prolonged amounts of time in a certain indoor area. Symptoms include but are not limited to respiratory issues, skin irritation, headaches, nausea, constant fatigue, and body aches. However, symptoms will vary from person to person.
Sick building syndrome is difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are very similar to allergies and other common illnesses like the cold or flu. Sick building syndrome has a variety of causes, many of which are related to poor indoor air quality. If you are spending more amounts of time than normal in a home that is making you sick, your symptoms are likely to amplify. Fortunately, improving the indoor air quality goes a long way toward alleviating any sick building syndrome symptoms.
Benefits of Clean Indoor Air
Clean air is very important for homeowners, especially when they find themselves spending a high amount of time indoors. One of the most important benefits of clean air is an increase in health and safety. Exposure to indoor air pollution has both short- and long-term health effects. Immediate symptoms of poor indoor air quality include coughing, chest tightness, sneezing, fatigue, dizziness, congestion, and headaches. Long-term effects include respiratory diseases, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and more.
Those with pre-existing conditions such as chronic conditions or asthma will experience heightened symptoms and be more at risk for air pollution related illnesses. Luckily, improved indoor air quality significantly decreases your risk of any symptoms or illnesses in both the short and long term. You will breathe better and lead an overall healthier lifestyle while living in a home with clean indoor air.
With heightened safety comes a higher sense of comfort. Clean air in your home creates a more pleasant and comfortable indoor environment for you and your family by helping to regulate temperature, eliminating odors, and controlling humidity levels. Clean indoor air is especially important for those working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. You will feel more alert in a comfortable and healthy environment, making it much easier to stay productive and focus on the task at hand.
Keep a Clean Home
Fortunately, there are many simple ways to improve your home’s indoor air quality. One of the easiest ways to keep a clean home. Regularly cleaning your home helps prevent the buildup of harmful materials such as dust, dirt, bacteria, germs, mold, mildew, and more. When these materials build up around the house, tiny particles are released into the air and create an irritating environment. This can also create an unpleasant odor throughout the house.
Cleaning involves cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. Cleaning simply removes dust, dirt, and debris from the surface while sanitizing eliminates bacteria and disinfecting eliminates bacteria and viruses on hard surfaces. It is especially important to clean, sanitize, and disinfect your home frequently during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep your family healthy and decrease their risk of exposure.
There are many different ways to clean your home, and tasks will vary from room to room. Vacuuming carpets and cleaning hard floors is very beneficial, as is regularly wiping off frequently used surfaces such as countertops and tables. You can wipe off household objects that are commonly used, such as faucets, doorknobs, and lightswitches.
Additionally, dusting around the house will directly lead to cleaner indoor air. The bedroom is one of the most important household rooms to regularly clean, as this is where you spend at least one-third of each day. Sleeping in a clean bedroom with healthy air will help you feel much more rejuvenated and well-rested in the morning.
While regular cleaning is very important, the occasional deep cleaning goes a long way toward improving your indoor air quality. Deep cleaning is much more thorough than regular cleaning, and, therefore, does not need to be done as frequently. Deep cleaning tasks vary from room to room.
For example, deep cleaning your kitchen can involve cleaning out appliances such as the freezer, refrigerator, oven, and microwave rather than simply wiping down countertops and surfaces. Make sure you have the necessary supplies to deep clean, such as gloves, buckets, and more.
When cleaning your home, be sure to use non-toxic cleaning supplies. Many conventional products, while effective at cleaning, are high in VOCs and other harmful chemicals. These chemicals and toxins can linger in the air long after cleaning the surface, which can decrease your home’s indoor air quality. Fortunately, non-toxic supplies are just as effective at cleaning and will improve your home’s air quality.
Proper ventilation can drastically improve your home’s indoor air quality. Ventilation involves removing air in an indoor area and replacing it with fresh air from a different source, such as another room or outdoors. Improperly ventilated areas often have “stale air,” which is caused by the buildup of VOCs, chemicals, and humidity.
The increase of harmful airborne materials decreases the amount of available fresh air, which can significantly decrease your air quality. Spending a high amount of time in a room with stale air is very unpleasant and unhealthy because stale air has an unpleasant odor and is noticeably hot or “stuffy.”
There are simple ways to ventilate your home. Open windows and doors when possible, as the fresh outdoor air will not only help remove harmful airborne materials, but create a pleasant environment. Ceiling fans also create a similar effect.
Ductless Mini Splits
Installing a ductless mini split HVAC system is one of the best ways to improve your home’s indoor air quality and ventilate your home. These air conditioners have recently become very popular among American homeowners, and for good reason. They are loved for their efficiency, as they are up to 30% more efficient than central ducted HVAC systems. This heightened efficiency leads to significantly lower energy costs and a reduced environmental impact.
Regardless of your area’s outdoor climate, ductless mini splits can heat and cool your home. Certain models can heat your home when the outside temperatures drop as low as -22 ℉! Their installation and maintenance processes are also very simple relative to other HVAC systems.
Ductless mini split systems are available in single and multi-zone systems. A single-zone system features one outdoor condenser or compressor connected to one indoor-air-handling unit by a series of copper wires and pipers. A multi-zone system features multiple indoor air conditioners connected to the same outdoor unit.
Single-zone systems give you temperature control over the indoor area where the unit is physically located, making them ideal in smaller homes or apartments. They can also be used as supplemental heating and cooling if you already have an HVAC system.
Multi-zone systems are perfect in larger homes with multiple rooms, levels, or areas. Each indoor unit in a multi-zone system can be controlled independently of each other, allowing you to create “climate zones” throughout the home!
Ductless Mini Splits as Air Filters
The dark ducts of central HVAC systems harbor mold, mildew, dust, dirt, and other harmful materials. Without regular cleanings, these materials are spread throughout the home when the HVAC system is in use. This can significantly decrease your home’s indoor air quality and create a very unpleasant environment.
Fortunately, this is eliminated when you install a ductless mini split system in your home. In fact, ductless mini splits can improve your home’s indoor air quality by serving as air filters, purifiers, and dehumidifiers!
Inside each air conditioner is a filter that can remove any harmful airborne materials such as dust, dirt, debris, dander, and various other allergens or pathogens on a microbial level. They can also remove any moisture from the air to prevent mold and mildew growth. You can also install a UV (ultraviolet) light in your mini split to eliminate bacteria, mold, and more.
To keep your system operating efficiently, be sure to regularly maintain the filter and replace it entirely when necessary. Filter maintenance is fairly simple, as it should be periodically removed and wiped clean with a cloth. The maintenance frequency depends on your system’s usage and will vary across filter models, so be sure to check any product manual.
The improved air quality that comes with a ductless mini split will keep you and your family healthy if you spend an increased amount of time indoors, as they are the perfect system for any room throughout the house.
For example, installing a ductless mini split in a bedroom creates a very pleasant sleeping environment. Not only will it improve the air quality in a room where you spend a significant portion of your time, but its nearly silent operation won’t disturb your slumber.
Ductless mini splits are also the perfect HVAC system in basements. Basements are generally darker and damper than other areas in the house, providing mold and mildew with the perfect environment. Fortunately, a mini split can remove any airborne moisture to help deter their growth.
Radiant heating sources can also improve your home’s indoor air quality. Radiant heating is an alternative heating source that can either supplement an existing HVAC system or be used as the main heat source in a home. A thin cloth installed under the floor or ceiling provides heat to objects in the room through infrared heating, and the heat is then transferred to the room’s occupants.
Not only does radiant heating create a comfortable and pleasant environment, but it helps improve your home’s indoor air quality by preventing the growth of mold, mildew, and dust.Shop All Of Our Ductless HVAC Systems
Top HVAC Brands
ComfortUp proudly carries mini split systems and accessories such as filters and UV lights from the industry’s best HVAC brands such as Mitsubishi, GREE, Boreal, LG, Panasonic, and more. We also sell Carbontec radiant heating products.