Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

A woman changes her central air system filter.By Jody Howe
Sr. Energy Specialist

This last summer and fall we found ourselves in the middle of wildfire smoke, more than we could imagine. And depending on local construction maybe endured a bit of equipment dust as we watched our communities grow. I found myself cleaning windowsills and sweeping floors more often to reduce dust from my home’s air.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is becoming more important as we spend more time inside; whether working from home, having kids inside often and in general having to be home more often. The comfort and health of everyone in the home is worth improving.

So what affects your home’s IAQ? Your home is constantly exposed to the environment. Winter days can be bitter when the wind kicks up. If you feel drafts in your home, check for places where air infiltration starts. For example, cold air that sits in your crawlspace can enter your conditioned space (living space) through plumbing holes, floor, and wall connections, access hatches, doors and windows. Anywhere that cold air finds cracks it can “move in”.

Consider an IAQ checklist:

  • Check that foundation screens are secure around the perimeters and secured from rodent entry.
  • Replace, if needed, central air system filters. A small (1 inch) filter is recommended to change out every month or two. Larger filters (4 inches or greater) have more surface and should be replaced when dirty.
  • The weather stripping on your exterior doors may be ready for replacement if you see light from the outside or you feel a draft.
  • Windows that feel drafty, but need to wait for replacement consider a “window kit”. A window kit is a clear plastic coverage that fits around the frame and can seal out drafts. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Confirm exhaust fans run properly. Ventilation removes moisture in kitchens and bathrooms, a defense against mold and odors, which also helps improve air quality.

IAQ starts with your home’s “shell”, or the exterior of your home. Sealing up those small air holes will help protect you from the outside elements. Controlling your home’s air infiltration and ventilation is helping to control the air quality.