We’ve all been stuck indoors more than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Think about how much time you’ve spent at home over the past few months compared to how much time you would usually spend at home. The fact is that for a lot of us, the pandemic has changed our way of life, perhaps permanently. Where it was once normal for us to go to the office even if we primarily worked at a computer, now most jobs that can be done remotely have been transitioned to that state. And though we can work from home without issue, for the most part, certain adjustments do need to be made to ensure that those of us who are spending a lot of time inside are not only working smoothly but living healthy. It’s not enough to have a strong wifi signal and a quiet space to retreat when necessary. You also need to think about things less tangible, but certainly just as important, if not more so.
We don’t often think about air quality when we’re indoors. Much of the conversation about air quality is often focused on the outdoors, and in particular cities where smog can be a major issue. The issue that a lot of people have been running into post-pandemic, however, is that of poor air quality affecting them inside. Air quality issues inside the home are often focused on things like pet dander and dust provoking allergies. But you may also be inhaling carcinogens and other seriously harmful contaminants without even knowing it. Let’s look into some of the ways that you can improve the air quality in your home without having to make overly drastic changes.
1. Turn On Your Air Conditioning
Not everyone has an air conditioning system in their home; however, it is more common in the United States than it is in the rest of the world, with 84% of American homes having some kind of air conditioning system. If your home is one of those, turn the air conditioning on when it’s warm outside. Understandably, you probably don’t want to overdo it as that can raise your energy bills. However, simply by having the air conditioning running even at a conservative temperature can improve your home’s air quality. This is because a lot of pollutants in the air are water soluble, and air conditioners actually remove water from the atmosphere. This means that they’re getting rid of those water soluble pollutants, and at the same time can also remove pollen and some other particles. This is an easy way to improve your air quality without running to the store to get another component for your home.
2. Install A HEPA Filter
Now, for some, an air conditioner isn’t going to be quite enough. There are a lot of benefits to going to the next step and installing a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, and particulars are exactly what HEPA filters focus on removing. If you’d like to save money, some HEPA filters are disposable, and therefore you can have them installed for a short amount of time, then remove them and replace them if you liked their results. If you’re investing in the long term, however, you can also have a permanent HEPA filter installed. Some also report that these filters actually make their homes smell better, which is an added benefit that of course is not strictly necessary, but can certainly add to the reasons why you would invest a HEPA filter for the long term. Furthermore, particulate filters can help reduce the allergens in your home, and in particular pet hair and dander. Dogs, in particular, often shed hair and dander, which can trigger allergic reactions even in people that don’t regularly suffer from pet allergies. With over 75 million pet dogs existing in the U.S., more than any other country, this affects a significant portion of Americans.
3. Ventilate Your Home Further
You probably aren’t aware if your home is poorly ventilated. You may very well be living as you’ve always lived, without worrying about ventilation issues. But there are a lot of ways in which you can increase the ventilation of your house, without changing the way that you live significantly. This doesn’t mean immediately throwing your windows wide open. After all, your windows can still let in pollutants from outside, like gas emissions. This is why it’s recommended that people practice “trickle ventilation”, which would involve using a 10-inch high screen that offers extra filters. These types of screens would be easy to adjust to a number of different windows and would allow fresh air. The benefit of this type of screen is that it allows you to release indoor pollutants. If you keep your windows completely closed at all times, indoor pollutants can become trapped in place.
4. Buy Low-VOC Products
Many of the products that we buy allow pollutants to exist within our home without our knowledge. VOCs are volatile organic compounds, and they are incredibly common in a number of different products. For example, a lot of cleaning products that contain chlorine and ammonia also contain VOCs, which are released in the air when these cleaning products are used. But furthermore, interior paints, as well as shellacs and floor polishes also include VOCs. Luckily, you can buy a lot of these products without VOCs. You simply need to do your research before making your purchases and ensure that everything you buy is VOC-free. Often, fragrance-free cleaners lack VOCs or are at least low in VOCs. Furthermore, if you use liquids and pastes, you can lower the number of particles dispersed in the air.
There are a lot of ways that we can cut down on pollutants in our indoor air. But not only is this healthier in a subtle way; it also can actually give clear, quick results. You may be surprised by how quickly you experience fewer allergic reactions, and less coughing; it can ultimately result in you being much more comfortable in your daily life.