Healthy Winter Indoor Air Quality
When the weather outside gets frosty, we rely on our HVAC system to keep our home comfortable. Of course, temperature plays a major role in our comfort, but don’t overlook the value of healthy indoor air. Generally, air quality management strategies fall into one of three categories: mitigating pollutant sources, improving ventilation or purifying air. Though these broader categories remain the same year-round, winter weather introduces some special circumstances to keep in mind.
Regular Inspections, Maintenance
As the heater warms our homes in the winter months, it also poses new potential sources for indoor air pollutants. This is especially true of gas-powered heating furnaces. In these models, inefficient burners or leaks in the furnace exhaust flume can become potential sources of air pollutants. Regular maintenance and inspections performed by an HVAC professional can help ensure the heating unit operates efficiently.
Monitor and Manage Humidity
It’s important to continue to monitor humidity during the winter months. When the heater, combined with cold outside weather can lead to dry indoor air. If your thermostat is not already equipped with a hygrometer, consider purchasing one to monitor your home’s indoor humidity. A humidifier can increase indoor humidity, but don’t go overboard. High humidity can negatively affect your indoor air quality, too. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends a level between 30 and 50 percent.
Keep the Air Moving
Air circulation and ventilation play major roles in keeping indoor air pollutants in check. A study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found air pollutants inside to be 2 to 5 times greater than concentrations measured outside, where air can circulate more freely. In fair weather, opening a window can provide an excellent source of air circulation. Of course, open windows aren’t usually an option in the winter. Instead, utilize fans to help keep air circulating throughout the house. For the best efficiency in the winter, ceiling fans should operate on a low setting, spinning in a clockwise direction, pulling air towards the ceiling.
Don’t Skip the Fundamentals
Some air quality management practices never go out of season. Whether it’s hot, cold or just right outside, the following are fundamental habits that are vital to maintaining healthy indoor air quality.
- Inspect and change filters regularly. Air filters sometimes need more frequent changes. Check the filters regularly, and swap them as-needed.
- Keep things tidy. Vacuuming carpets and keeping surfaces clean can help reduce indoor allergens and pollutants.
- No smoking. If you or someone else smokes, it’s a good idea to avoid doing so inside. This can be tough to stick to in the winter, but it’s among the most important improvements you can make to your indoor air quality, according to the U.S. EPA. As an added safety measure, remove your jacket or coat when re-entering the house after smoking.
- Be mindful of pets. Keep outdoor pets outside. If you have indoor pets, encourage them to inhabit specific locations in your home that can be cleaned regularly.
While the above practices can dramatically improve your indoor air quality, an efficient HVAC system is your biggest ally, providing circulation, moisture control and air filtering. If it’s not running properly, however, your HVAC system can do more harm than good. Regular maintenance and inspection by an HVAC technician ensures your heating and cooling system is doing its part to keep the air in your home both comfortable and clean. Call the experts at Blue Flame Heating & Air Conditioning today to ensure your HVAC system continues running at maximum efficiency.