The Indoor Air Quality industry may be booming, however there is still a dire need for greater IAQ awareness and public understanding. On a recent RepTalk episode, (KGG Consulting’s HVAC and IAQ industry focused podcast) Host Rob Ambrosetti sat down with Bill Hayward of Hayward Score and Hayward Lumber. The takeaway? A concerning feeling that Indoor Air Quality is still in its infancy–that is, at least, when it comes to public awareness.
“Creating Healthy Home Habits With Hayward Score” focuses on building healthy homes and improving unhealthy homes, both from the Indoor Air Quality perspective. Hayward formed the Hayward Score in response to the issue of unhealthy homes. He was motivated by the idea of consumer demand and care (akin to J.D. Power ratings) as well as his own family’s poor home air quality experience. Soon after moving into what he described as their dream home, they began experiencing mental and physical illnesses. The Hayward Score is a 50 question self-reported online quiz that allows homeowners to understand the diagnosis of their own living space’s air quality. With health and well being in mind, the homeowner walks away with a vested interest in improving their home’s Indoor Air Quality.
Indoor Air Quality in Perspective
Between 30 to 45% of what makes a home healthy are occupant habits. Or, as Hayward Score refers to them, healthy home habits. In the IAQ industry, they’re what we like to call control strategies. Regardless, it’s clear that our own behavior and actions play a prominent role in the quality of the air we breathe.
Healthy Home Habits
Actions that impact Indoor Air Quality includes things like smoking, cooking, showering, steaming, the number of pets in a home, even the number of people. All of these factors impact air quality on a daily basis. As Hayward puts it in the episode, these actions “flavor” the walls and degrade the home.
The good news is that solutions are available. The five main Indoor Air Quality control strategies are: air purification, ventilation, humidity control, air filtration and source control. HVAC and IAQ industry experts alike recognize that air quality improves with one or a combination of these options. Homeowners noticed it too. Via the Hayward Score data, collected from scores of over 80,000 homes across America, consumers report fewer symptoms when they actively intervene in their home. Whether intervention is installing a mechanical ventilation system or minimizing the amount of toxic cleaning supplies in the home, the difference is clear.
With immediate and noticeable improvement from simple intervention options or habit changes, it begs the question. Why doesn’t everyone choose healthy home habits? And, is it that the average homeowner simply doesn’t know?
Why is There a Lack of Awareness?
There are a couple potential answers to the question: why doesn’t everyone choose healthy home habits? The first issue is that oftentime, there is no Indoor Air Quality chapter in HVAC school or training programs. At least, it’s certainly not the norm yet. It’s a similar case when it comes to building and designing homes. These are the initial stage experts as well as those conducting regular maintenance and fixes. If they’re not trained or in the know, then how can we expect homeowners to cover the burden? The first step is ensuring that HVAC technicians and contractors are trained in IAQ. This would expand the knowledge base and allow more industry professionals to recommend IAQ options to customers.
The second issue, as mentioned in the podcast, is the sense of distrust many customers have for contractors. When it comes to tradespeople, there’s a certain consumer assumption that contractors are simply trying to sell them something. However, with greater IAQ awareness, customers would be more likely to trust the coming health and safety benefits of Indoor Air Quality upgrades. At the end of the day, despite these potential hindrances, it should be every HVAC contractor, business and company’s goal to help increase IAQ awareness.
The bottom line is: as humans, we need air to survive. It is a truly essential resource. And because of that, the industry is at an advantage. The HVAC world will only continue to benefit from greater public understanding. Increasing IAQ awareness and emphasizing its importance might seem easier said than done. It begins with simple steps. The role of air quality is currently shifting from energy efficiency and comfort to health, cleanliness and wellness. Explain the multitude of benefits that comes from good Indoor Air Quality to your customers. Notice client’s homes, listen carefully as they describe problems and pay attention to possible habits. Then, make educated recommendations. Every seemingly small step is still a step in the right direction.
Increasing IAQ Awareness
There are multiple motivating angles as to why you should increase consumer IAQ awareness. It can be from the perspective of health–that you are truly helping people breathe healthier, cleaner air. Or it can be from the business perspective–offering Indoor Air Quality products and services is profitable and will give your business a competitive edge.