A healthy life is a happy life. You may not realise it, but the air you breathe inside your home could be harming you and your family in a number of different ways. Nothing could be more important than the air you breathe, so make it your resolution to improve the air quality in your home. Here are some tips to help you out in your planning.
Everyone knows that traffic and industry pollute the air outside. Few of us, however, stop to think about the pollution inside our homes. Unfortunately, the air in a poorly ventilated home can actually be more polluted than the air outside. When we talk about indoor air quality we are talking about the air circulating within your home on a daily basis. Bad air quality is simply indoor air that is not as clean, fresh and pure as it should be.
Air quality inside a home is affected by a number of different factors, not just by pollution from the outdoors coming in through windows and doors. Though external pollution is a factor, especially in cities and built up areas, gases are given off by heating and cooking appliances, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from cleaning products, paints and plastics, smoke and other airborne particulates, and allergens such as mould and dust all contribute to bad indoor air quality. Radon gases from underground can also permeate your home and reduce air quality if you live in an area where these naturally occurring gases are more highly concentrated. Bad indoor air quality will be worsened in a situation where there is little or no natural air flow within the home, which can lead to condensation build up, damp and mould.
Over time, bad air quality and lack of air flow in your home can begin to damage the structure of your home and its fixtures and fittings. When stagnant air sits around your home, you will encounter all sorts of problems. Condensation will form in bathrooms and kitchens and can create damp problems. Mould, which can be a serious allergen, will be encouraged to grow. Even in homes that do not suffer from damp, bad air quality can still be a problem. Carpets, wallpaper, curtains and soft furnishings can all become impregnated with nasty, stale smells that can be hard to shift. Over time, poor air quality can damage your home and subtly change the way it looks and smells.
Bad indoor air quality can also be damaging to our health, as well as the inside of our homes. Scientific studies have conclusively shown the link between indoor air pollution and acute and chronic health problems. Bad indoor air quality can damage the body's organs, especially the lungs and the heart. Carbon monoxide can be potentially lethal in high doses but low-level exposure could cause chronic ill-health effects, while nitrogen dioxide, another pollutant emitted by heating and cooking appliances, is associated with a range of breathing problems. Particulate matter in the air in your home and VOCs can cause a decrease in lung function, asthma, wheeziness and an increased risk of disease in your heart and your respiratory system. Nasal irritation is common, as are feelings of a dry mouth, constricted throat and scratchy eyes.
These are the effects of which we can be fairly certain. There are, however, a range of other potential problems caused over the long-term by poor air quality. Studies have suggested links between air quality and a range of other chronic discomforts and health problems. There is a growing concern over the health effects of VOCs linked to a range of common plastics. (You know that 'new car' smell? That is the off-gassing of potentially damaging VOCs and many new items will also be releasing these into your home – hence the importance of improving the air quality in your home.)
Fortunately, it is easy to improve the air quality in your home. Most simply, improving the ventilation and improving air flow rates in your house will improve air quality to a degree. Whole house ventilation systems such as the high-efficiency energiSava range can help you to ensure that your home is properly ventilated throughout the year. Sophisticated technology in ventilation systems such as these will constantly monitor the humidity levels and flow rates of the air in your home, so the system always works efficiently and effectively. Systems such as the energiSava 400 will allow you to ensure a constant supply of clean, tempered air in homes that are well insulated and so more airtight. The 300 and 400 energiSava models come with summer cooling and frost bypass as standard while their filters remove 95% of the dust from the air. The IDEO is another intelligent whole house ventilation and heat recovery solution that will help you improve indoors air quality and which could also help you save money on bills.
A good ventilation system is the first step towards better air quality. You can then further enhance your living space and improve air quality further by taking the following measures: introduce living plants which are natural air purifiers; get rid of carpets and have natural, hard flooring instead; use only natural household cleaning products; use paints and other decorating materials that are low in VOCs; reduce the amount of plastic and the number of new items coming into your home and live a more sustainable and natural way of life.
You can take positive steps to improve the air quality in your home – make sure you make a resolution to breathe easier in the new year and you will reap the benefits of cleaner, fresher air and a healthier home.