Stay Fresh: Five Tips for Better Indoor Air Quality
By Abby Berry
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
We spend a lot of time indoors. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates the average person spends 90% of their life indoors. (I don’t know about you, but I suddenly have the urge to go for a long walk!)
Additionally, our homes are becoming more energy efficient––they’re better insulated and sealed with less ventilation––which is great for our energy bills but not so much for our indoor air quality.
The thought of breathing in pollutants can be scary, but the truth is, indoor air pollution is common and simply unavoidable. The good news is there are ways you can easily improve the air quality of your home.
Here are five tips to help you breathe a little easier.
Change your air filter often. Clogged, dirty filters reduce the amount of airflow and the HVAC system’s efficiency. When a filter becomes too clogged, the excess dirt and dust are sent through your air ducts, adding unnecessary allergens and other unwanted particles into your living space. During the cooling season (summer months), the Department of Energy recommends replacing your air filter every month or two. This is one of the easiest ways to promote better indoor air quality and energy efficiency.
Regularly vacuum carpet and rugs––especially if you have furry friends. The cleaner the home, the healthier the home. Vacuuming carpet and area rugs once a week can greatly reduce the accumulation of pet dander and dust inside your home. Frequently clean other areas that collect dust, like drapes, bedding and cluttered areas.
Use vents to remove cooking fumes. Those exhaust fans aren’t just for when you burn the bacon. Fans help remove fumes emitted while cooking and eliminate unwanted moisture and odors. They may be a bit noisy, but these handy tools can help you improve indoor air quality while you’re preparing that culinary masterpiece (or even a grilled cheese sandwich!).
Get a handle on humidity. Summer months typically bring more humidity than we’d like, especially if you live in a high-humidity climate zone. Moisture in the air can carry bacteria and other unwanted particles that you eventually breathe in. Dehumidifiers work to remove that moisture from the air, reducing the amount of bacteria, mold and other allergens in your home.
Incorporate air-purifying plants into your living space. There are several varieties of indoor plants that can help detoxify your home from dust and germs found in a variety of home products, furniture and other materials. A few low-maintenance, air-purifying plants to consider are snake plants, aloe vera plants and pothos plants (also known as Devil’s Ivy). These vibrant, lush plants are eye-catching and beneficial for any home. Remember to review care conditions and think about placement for any new plants you add to your home.
Taking simple steps to purify indoor air can improve health and overall quality of life. With a little effort, you can improve the indoor air quality of your home and breathe a bit easier.
Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.