What Affects Indoor Air Quality in the Winter Months?
When the temperature dips and autumn gives way to winter, do you notice that the air inside of your home seems a little stale?
It isn’t your imagination. This time of year can wreak havoc on indoor air and unless you know the reasons why, the issue could get worse before it gets better.
The good news? Restoring your air quality is possible with a few easy steps.
Today, we’re sharing a few reasons why your air might be compromised during this time of year, along with ways to correct and improve it.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
Lack of Fresh Air
One of the main reasons your indoor air quality suffers during the wintertime is simply because your exposure to fresh, outdoor air is limited. During this cold season, we tend to leave all of our doors and windows tightly shut to conserve as much heat as possible.
While this step might keep you warmer, it doesn’t allow fresh air to enter your home as often as it would during the summer. Instead, it allows the air to sit stagnantly, getting dirtier by the minute.
To help remedy this issue, you can invest in a fresh air exchanger, such as a heat recovery ventilator. Working independently of your normal heating system, this ventilator exchanges heat between the stale exhaust air and the fresh incoming air, keeping the heat but pushing the stale air out.
In turn, this helps reduce humidity, odors, and pollutants in your environment.
Higher Germ Count
Are you used to firing up the furnace or leaving the gas fireplace on for hours during the winter? What about using the oven for an extended period of time?
There’s no denying the comfort that these activities can provide.
However, you might be forgetting one tiny problem: Germs love dry air. Think about it: It isn’t a coincidence that flu season and the holidays always coincide.
These icky bugs tend to reach their highest levels once the relative humidity (RH) drops below 40%. In fact, one study found that when researchers were able to raise the indoor humidity levels to just 43%, they were able to eliminate 86% of all airborne virus particles, rendering them powerless.
If you’re pumping the heat, you’re also drying out your home. This can lower your air quality and turn it into a hotbed for those nasty cold-weather germs. Ideally, you want your home’s RH levels to hold steady between 40% and 60% to make sure your family stays healthy and comfortable.
To help raise and maintain your RH levels, proper humidification is key. You can find single-room or whole-home humidifiers, such as these from Clean Comfort. Simple to install, they make a major impact and can keep your crew healthy all season long.
One of the top items on your autumn checklist might be to go around your home and seal up any holes, cracks or other weak areas in your insulation where cold air could leak in or warm air could escape. You might even add extra insulation in areas that look like they need it.
While this step is an important way to improve your energy efficiency, it also reduces the opportunity for fresh air to enter your home. As a result, the number of overall pollutants, allergens, and chemical concentrations rise exponentially. This is another reason why a fresh air exchanger can be a smart investment!
The Stack Effect
Have you ever heard the phrase “Heat rises”? This movement is technically known as the stack effect or the chimney effect.
During the winter, the warm air inside of your home rises from the lowest level to the highest, making its way up via any opening it can find, including windows, open doors, ventilation openings or unintentional holes/cracks in your ceilings or floors. That means air that was once in your basement or crawlspace is soon distributed throughout your primary living spaces.
In all, around 40% of the indoor air you breathe in your home originates in your basement or crawlspace. This presents an opportunity for moldy, mildewed air to dissipate all around you. In addition, air below ground level could also contain soil gases such as radon or methane.
Benefits of Total Home Air Purification
Looking for a solution that will help you combat any pollutants in your indoor air and scrub it clean so you can breathe more easily?
With a total home air purification system, you can achieve this effect. This Dust Free Active model uses a negative ionization system and eco-friendly oxidizers to produce ionic air scrubbers that work as their name implies, actively cleaning your home of common contaminants, including:
- Pet dander
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Germs and bacteria
- Biological growth
This system installs into your existing HVAC unit, instantly enhancing the performance of your existing filtration system. You can also install a media air filter like the AM11-CleanFit model to ensure your breathing air is top-quality.
Improve Your Indoor Air, One Step at a Time
During the winter, your home should be a welcoming safe haven. You should feel good about locking your doors, curling up by the fire, and escaping the chill.
You shouldn’t feel forced to limit these activities simply because your indoor air isn’t up to par.
Today, there are many different ways you can resolve this issue and breathe easier all season long. From heat ventilators and humidifiers to total-home air purification systems, you can choose the exact product you need to meet your needs.
Looking for more HVAC expertise you can trust? Our consultants have more than 40 years of combined industry experience. Schedule a meeting today to learn more about how we can help.