I love feeling warm and cozy at home with a hot cup of tea on a cold winter day. I don't miss Virginia's hot and humid summer weather, but I do not like the dryness of my skin and hair from winter heat. Home indoor air quality can drop significantly during Virginia’s winters when we’re all tucked in and closed up.
Here are 3 simple things that you can do to improve the health of your home’s toasty air:
As awesome as they are, fireplaces and even our furnaces can create super dry conditions. Whole house evaporative humidifiers work the best. Here are few more tips:
- Leave your house fan running.
- Aim for 35-50% home humidity and no more. You don’t want a happy breeding ground for mold.
- Clean stand-alone cool mist humidifiers often! Otherwise you’re just shooting bacteria and mold into the air.
- Ditto with hot humidifiers, or vaporizers. Also beware- they can scald if knocked over so be careful especially if you have little ones.
The filters on your furnace and other air intake returns around your home do the important job of catching irritants like mold spores, pet dander, candle & fireplace soot, and even dead skin cells. (Eww!) You can help eliminate these airborne culprits:
- Spend a little more and upgrade to allergen-rated, high efficiency house filters with a MERV rating of 14-16. They cost a bit more but they last longer and keep your air cleaner during winter months. The only problem with these filters is they are more dense than cheaper filters and can get dirty quickly, reducing good air flow. So...
- Clean and change your disposable furnace filters more frequently than other times of the year- at least once a month. Even those 90-day filters will need replacing sooner.
This is harder in the winter when you can’t open the windows and let in fresh air. But there are ways to keep the air moving inside:
- Use kitchen appliance, bathroom, and whole house fans regularly to circulate and move moisture and gases outdoors.
- Be sure appliances like dryers and stove hoods are vented correctly to the outdoors.
- Maintain your fireplace or woodstove and burn wisely.
- Put off adding unneeded airborne chemicals into your home environment from remodeling, painting and harsh project chemicals until spring.
- Beware of blocked outdoor home exhaust vents after a significant snow event.
One last really important thing! Have a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home and keep them up to date. Carbon monoxide is odorless and found in fumes from burning any kind of fuel including natural gas, propane or oil. An up-to-date detector is the only way to know if you’ve got unsafe levels in your home. Protect your family from C02 poisoning by maintaining your fireplace or wood stove, and using supplemental heat wisely.
That wraps things up here. We sure hope we helped you by passing on what we’ve learned from our years of experience. We want to keep you and your family warm and protected this winter. Keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more great home tips!