When you think of the winter months, what comes to mind? Snow? The holidays? Short days and long, cold nights? For those who are particularly sensitive to changes in the air around them, winter is often a time that means poor air quality, specifically indoors. There are plenty of reasons for this, but the most common one is simply that we pay dearly to heat our homes and businesses, and we don’t want to lose that heat by leaving doors and windows open all of the time. Thus, we keep everything closed up tight, sealing the air and warmth in. However, that means there is no transfer of air between the indoors and the outdoors, and that eventually means your air grows stale, dull, and poor in quality.
However, you don’t have to suffer with indoor air quality just because of the season. In fact, there are several ways you can improve your indoor air quality during the winter months without sacrificing energy efficiency. Here are four ways to improve your indoor air without a huge energy bill or leaving your home feeling cold and unwelcoming.
Use a Humidifier
Have you noticed that winter seems to go hand in hand with dry, chapped lips, cracked hands, and other symptoms of generally dry skin? This isn’t your imagination, but rather a scientific fact due to a concept known as “relative humidity.” To explain this in simple terms, warmer air can carry more water vapor, while colder air can’t carry as much. The amount of vapor present in the air is typically quantified in a percentage. However, warm air at 90% humidity contains far more moisture than cold air at 90% humidity. That means even though the measurement may seem the same, the actual amount of humidity is significantly lower in the colder weather.
Thus, during winter, the outdoor air around you is typically drier, and your skin, hair, and health all reflect this. The solution: a humidifier. Humidifiers add vapor to the air inside your home by turning water into a vapor that can be absorbed by the dry air in your home. With a humidifier, you’ll feel more comfortable, warmer, and you’ll see a remarkable improvement in your health throughout the season.
Change Your Air Filter Regularly
Because our doors and windows stay shut so tight during winter season, our air filters then have to absorb all of the airborne debris and particulate matter. This means all of the dust that we track in, all of the bacteria that may have been produced, and all of the other types of airborne contaminants that may be present in your home will be pulled through this system. The more you run your heater, the more of this debris will be filtered out. However, when your filter becomes too full, it loses its capacity to strain out further debris, and likewise it starts allowing more and more matter back into the air that’s circulated throughout your home.
Therefore, during the winter season, you should be changing your air filter far more frequently than you would at perhaps any other time of the year. We recommend using a weekend during the autumn season to go to your local hardware store and pick up a few replacement air filters that you can keep on hand. Check your filter often—at least once a month—and then replace it when you notice that it is filling up fast and becoming particularly dirty.
Open Your Doors & Windows for a Few Minutes Each Day
One of the biggest reasons for poor indoor air is simply that the air inside your home gets stale and old. As air remains trapped in your home, it becomes more and more concentrated with carbon dioxide as we breathe, and the various odors from our day to day life become trapped inside as well. The lack of fresh circulation means eventually you’ll find yourself struggling with a home that’s packed with odors and other problems that are difficult to get rid of.
Believe it or not, one of the best things you can do to counteract this is to simply open your doors and windows for a few minutes each day. During the heat of the day, when temperatures are at their highest, crack open a few windows or a door and let fresh air replace some of the stale air inside. By leaving them open for about 5 minutes, you’ll minimize how much heat you lose, but in exchange you’ll enjoy cleaner and fresher air that leaves your home feeling cleaner and healthier throughout the season. If you want to avoid having to lose heat, installing a heat-exchanging ventilation system that works with your HVAC system may be the perfect solution. Talk to a member of our team to learn more about these systems.
Avoid Odor-Causing Activities
Finally, one of the biggest reasons for poor indoor air quality is the sheer number of odors that are produced in our homes during this season. Cooking is the primary culprit, but extended periods of purely indoor living combined with the presence of pets and a number of other factors can all lead to a veritable cornucopia of distinct smells all blending together. Unfortunately, what often happens is that we go nose-blind to many of these smells. While that may mean you don’t notice them, anyone who visits will likely pick them up immediately.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to avoid odor-causing activities. While some things can’t be avoided, such as cooking, avoid things like heavily-scented candles, as they usually only temporarily mask the issue before combining with other odors to make things worse. Likewise, heavily-scented foods like bacon or broccoli can also make the problem worse. Be sure to use them sparingly, or pair them with our previous suggestion of opening your doors and windows to allow fresh air in afterward.Breathe easy this winter with an indoor air quality solution from A-TEMP Heating, Cooling & Electrical! Dial (503) 694-3396 now to schedule an appointment.