According to the 2018 Indoor Air Quality Report, we spend over 90% of our time inside, which equates to 150 hours per week. When being outside means exposure to a traffic-clogged, factory-ridden city of smog, staying at home seems like a good idea. However, indoor air quality can be anything from two to ten times worse.
This is thanks in no small part to the fact that our homes have more insulation and less ventilation than ever before, which leads to the accumulation of dust, pollen, chemicals, mold and stagnant air. Breathing all of that in is not good for your health. Poor indoor air quality is linked to everything from fatigue to asthma to lung disease, and even death.
Before you burn your house down and move to the countryside, it’s worth noting that there are many effective ways to improve the air quality in your home. Moreover, you don’t need to spend a fortune. Here are our top tips.
Simply opening up a few windows is naturally the cheapest and easiest option. You’ll allow more oxygen to come in while letting all the bad stuff out, as well as reducing moisture levels in your space, to make your home less hospitable to dust mites. If you live in a busy area, you can avoid unpleasant air by opening your windows when traffic levels are at their lowest.
But this isn’t a completely effective solution, especially if you’re trying to keep your home warm during winter.
Use Proper Air Filters
Whether it’s an air conditioner, furnace or HVAC system, it’s important to use proper air filters that effectively prevent pollution from entering through the outside air. If some time has passed since you last changed your filters, it’s wise to replace them so that they aren’t just blowing dirt around.
You can find a selection of high-quality air filters on filterbuy.com. They have more affordable options that trap up 85% of air particles, including dust and pollen. Their higher-tier filters are capable of bringing that number up to 98%, which eliminates pet dander, odor, debris, and even bacteria. All options can last up to 90 days for minimal maintenance.
VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are gases emitted by certain substances such as glues, paints, and fabrics. Long-term exposure is known to cause lung damage and is particularly harmful indoors.
One of the most common sources of VOCs in homes is furniture, but they stop emitting the chemicals after a few years. This is why it’s a good idea to save some money and buy your lounge set secondhand if possible. Paint is another prime suspect, so be sure to opt for a non-toxic option. Aerosols and solvents often contain VOCs as well.
Keep Your Fabrics Clean
Dust mites like to linger in fabric, such as that which makes up your clothing, bedsheets, pillowcases, and curtains. Too many mites and the air quality in your home will suffer, leading to feelings of irritation and lethargy. Be sure to keep said fabrics clean, ideally with a low-allergenic soap. Keeping pets off of beds and couches will also help.
Buy an Air Purifier
Since it’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate the microscopic particles of dust and pollen that are floating around your home yourself, buying an air purifier can get the job done.
Some models even release negative ions into the air, which are said to kill airborne bacteria and viruses. Look out for those that feature a high CADR (clean air delivery rate).
Grow Some Plants
If an air purifier is beyond your budget, then a couple of houseplants are a somewhat reasonable alternative. This is because a study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology estimated that it would take around a hundred plants per square foot to match the efficacy of your average HVAC system.
So, unless you plan on growing a jungle, they won’t make a world of a difference. That said, plants do have additional benefits that make them worth having in the home. If you’re willing to test out their ability to purify your air, take NASA’s 1989 Clean Air Study recommendations, which include ferns, peace lilies and spider plants.
Keep it Smoke-Free
We all know that cigarettes are filled with chemicals that cause a range of health problems, not to mention their ability to ruin your walls and ceiling. But they aren’t the only source of smoke that can cause harm. Candles, incense sticks and wood-burning stoves also emit carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, so try to keep these to a minimum.
Conversely, some people recommend using beeswax candles to clean your air due to their release of negative ions, which cause positively-charged particles like dust, pollen and other toxins to fall down.
Don’t forget to dust and vacuum your home on a regular basis. That, in addition to the above steps, will go a long way in helping you improve your air quality without breaking the bank.