Improving Indoor Air Quality in Your Home
By: Danny Lipford
Improvements in building techniques and materials in recent years have resulted in homes today that are more tightly sealed than ever before. While these advancements are great for saving energy and reducing your heating and cooling bills, they can also trap stale, polluted air inside your home.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
Lack of proper air exchange can cause the air in your home to be up to 5-10 times more polluted than outside air. This can cause increased problems in those with asthma or allergies, and can result other serious health risks.
Common sources of home indoor air pollution include:
- Dust, pet dander, and pollen.
- Excess moisture from bathing and cooking.
- Smoke and fumes from fireplaces, candles, tobacco, and gas appliances.
- Harmful volatile organic compound (VOC) chemicals which are released by some cleaners, adhesives, paints, and other products.
- Radon gas that can be emitted naturally by the ground in certain areas.
Reducing Indoor Air Pollution
Reducing indoor air pollution requires a combination of reducing VOC emitting products and other indoor pollutants and improving indoor ventilation to bring fresh air into your home.
To reduce VOCs in your home:
- Use only paints, adhesives, and building materials that are low in VOCs or contain no VOCs.
- Make sure new cabinets, furniture, and building materials such as plywood, particle board, and oriented strand board (OSB) used in your home are not made with adhesives that contain formaldehyde.
- Use cleaners in your home that are low in VOCs or contain no VOCs.
- Some houseplants have been shown to actually absorb harmful VOCs from the air. Plants that provided the most benefit include philodendron, peace lily, snake plant, dracaena, and bamboo palm. Check out our article on Best Houseplants to Improve Indoor Air Quality to find out more.
To improve ventilation and reduce indoor pollutants:
- Vacuuming: Replace the air filter on your vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, which captures much finer particles than standard vacuum cleaner filters. Another option is to install a central vacuum system, such as the new PurePower from NuTone, which exhausts the air outside your home.
- Range Hood: Install a quality range hood vented to the outside with the recommended CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) air flow for your stove. Make sure to choose a range hood that’s both efficient and quiet, such as the Allure III Series from NuTone, which move 430 CFM of air and are more than 50% quieter than typical range hoods in its class. Run the fan whenever you cook to exhaust hot air, steam, smoke, and cooking odors outside.
- Bath Vent Fan: Install quality bathroom vent fans, such as the NuTone ULTRA GREEN™ Series, in each bathroom; and use them during and for 15-20 minutes after bathing to remove excess moisture that can cause mold and mildew. NuTone ULTRA GREEN™ Series fans are Energy Star rated and use ULTRASilent™ Sound Technology to keep the noise level so low, you might not even realize it’s on!
- Whole House Ventilation System: Install a whole house ventilation system, such as those from Broan, which can be used to exhaust stale air from your home and supply filtered outside air into your home. Whole house ventilation systems from Broan can also include an energy recovery system to reduce the loss of heat and control humidity in your home.
Types of whole house ventilation energy recovery systems:
- Heat Recovery Ventilators: HRV systems remove heat from the inside air before it’s exhausted to the outside, and use it to warm the incoming air. This makes them a good choice for colder climates.
- Energy Recovery Ventilators: ERV systems manage both heat loss and the humidity in the air, making them ideal for warm, humid climates. An ERV system transfers some of the moisture in the humid air stream to the dryer air stream to recover the energy trapped in the moisture.
Both types of Broan whole house energy recovery systems have HEPA filtration to capture 99.97% of airborne particles including dust, allergens, and pet dander as small as 0.3 microns.
Watch Improve Indoor Air Quality with Proper Ventilation to find out more.