How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
When you picture pollution, images of smokestacks and vehicle exhaust probably come to mind. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is often several times more polluted than outdoor air. This is a major health concern, considering that most people spend 90 percent or more of their time inside. Fortunately, there are several ways to improve indoor air quality using three primary techniques described by the EPA—source control, improved ventilation, and air cleaning.
Control Pollution at the Source
The first step is to eliminate individual pollutants so they don’t enter your home in the first place. Source control is often the most cost-effective approach to protecting indoor air. Some ideas include:
- Adjust your gas stove to decrease emissions.
- Seal sources of asbestos or have them removed from your home.
- Switch to natural cleaning products. When harsh chemicals like bleach are necessary, use them sparingly and run an exhaust fan or open a window for ventilation.
- Avoid using air fresheners, candles, aerosol sprays, paint, and strong adhesives, which introduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. To lessen your exposure to these harmful pollutants, look for products labeled “low VOC” or “no VOC.”
- Only smoke outside, and ask family members and guests who smoke to do the same.
- Keep the windows closed when wildfire smoke, pollen, or other sources of outdoor pollution are elevated.
- Take off your shoes when you get home to avoid tracking in pollen, chemicals, and other pollutants.
Increase Air Ventilation
The focus on creating more energy-efficient homes is one reason indoor air quality suffers today. While the goal is to save money on energy bills, living in an airtight home promotes poor indoor air quality. Help your family breathe easier with these ventilation tips:
- Run the kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans when cooking, cleaning, and showering to remove stale, humid air. Run each fan for 20 minutes at a time when your home needs a refresh.
- Open a window when painting, paint stripping, soldering, welding, or doing other activities that generate fumes. Take these activities outside whenever possible.
- Update your thermostat. Some modern versions run the blower for 20 minutes every hour to improve circulation, while others use a low fan speed to keep the air moving. Both techniques aim to enhance air quality while minimizing the impact on your energy bills.
- Install a whole-house ventilation system, which systematically replaces stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air while preheating and humidifying the air on its way inside. This prevents your energy bills from getting out of hand while introducing much-needed fresh air into the space.
Actively Clean the Air
When source control and ventilation aren’t enough, the final step is to remove air pollution with various cleaning methods. Here are a few examples:
- Use a more efficient furnace filter. The one that came standard with your HVAC system probably has a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of 1 to 4. At this level, the filter only traps large particles like dust, dirt, and hair. For better indoor air quality without sacrificing airflow, find a filter rated MERV 7 or 8.
- Replace the air filter every 30 to 90 days or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This keeps the filter working as intended without overly restricting airflow.
- Run an electronic air cleaner. Portable versions clean the air in one room at a time, while whole-house models are installed in the ductwork. Air cleaners remove up to 30 times more dust and debris than standard media filters.
- Install a UV germicidal light, which renders bacteria and viruses inert so they can no longer replicate. This whole-house system works in tandem with your furnace filter to provide drastically cleaner indoor air.
- Schedule duct cleaning if your HVAC contractor notices excessive dust, mold growth, signs of a vermin infestation, or other sources of indoor air pollution in the ductwork. Then, dust your air registers and grilles regularly between professional duct cleanings.
- Keep up with household chores, including vacuuming and dusting, which remove allergy-inducing particles that settle on horizontal surfaces. You may also want to replace wall-to-wall carpeting and upholstered furniture with smooth, hard materials that are easier to clean.
Improve Indoor Air Quality with Help from Universal AC & Heat
At Universal AC & Heat, we install, maintain, and repair a wide range of HVAC products that improve indoor air quality, including furnaces, air conditioners, attic fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air filtration systems, and UV germicidal lights. We pride ourselves on delivering affordable services with long-lasting results, so you can trust our highly trained and experienced team to oversee your indoor air quality project! Contact us today at 410-544-7334 to request services in Pasadena, MD, or the surrounding area.