As Bob Dylan once said, the times they are a-changin’. Climate change has affected almost everything we know in the 21st century — legislation, technology, and even daily habits have had to adjust to try and balance out the massive toll humanity has taken on our environment over the centuries. But we rarely stop to consider how climate change may be affecting things that we can’t see as easily.
The Effects of Climate Change on Indoor Air Quality
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, humans spend about 90% of their lives indoors. Between work and school alone, a large portion of the population has to set aside structured time to venture into the great outdoors even once a day. This time dips drastically enough during winter when freezing temperatures discourage even the most adventurous outdoor lovers from leaving their homes. And while we may feel that we have a solid grasp on how climate change is affecting the world around us, few may realize how it affects the very air we breathe.
How Does Climate Change Impact Indoor Air?
The gradual warming of the planet has widespread effects on everyone. Weather getting warmer means that the rising carbon dioxide levels can affect everything from allergens to wildfires. Both can severely impact our indoor air quality if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
The changes in weather and climate over time have resulted in more frequent and unpredictable severe weather patterns such as dust storms, flooding, thunderstorms, and cold snaps, which put more stress and strain on our infrastructure. Rising temperatures mean that people are using more and more energy during heat waves, which can lead to widespread power outages that make it impossible to filter and condition the air inside your home.
Not being able to condition the air circulating throughout the house prevents us from reducing the amount of moisture in the air, which can lead to a slew of issues. Pests like cockroaches thrive in humid conditions, and their skin sheddings add to the allergens and pollutants already inside most homes: Dust mites, pet dander, dead skin cells, bacteria, and viruses are more abundant when we can’t filter them out with a central air system.
When homeowners lose power, many may turn to temporary power solutions such as portable generators and space heaters. These solutions are good in a pinch, but if used improperly, they can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and death.
Easy Ways to Protect Your Indoor Air Quality
While there are many ways climate change can affect indoor air quality, there are also many things that we can do to protect our homes and families from its effects.
Change Air Filters Often
The humble air filter may seem innocuous to the outside world, but for those of us who work with air quality, we know there is nothing more simple and powerful than keeping track of your air filter and when to change it out. A clean filter traps airborne particles that would otherwise circulate freely throughout your home, and it also reduces the amount of energy it requires to heat and cool your home — which, in turn, can reduce the strain your home places on the grid during peak usage hours.
Know When to Use Ventilation Fans
Reducing the amount of moisture in your home is a large part of what a well-working HVAC system does, but you can help it do its job by utilizing your ventilation and exhaust fans when appropriate. Turning the bathroom fan on while showering or bathing helps to remove excess moisture in the air that can contribute to mold growth. Similarly, try to keep the ventilation fan running while cooking anything that creates steam or smoke to protect the air in your home from kitchen pollutants.
There are many ways that climate change can and will affect the air in your home. Thankfully, there are also many solutions to help us keep our air pure and breathable. Contact A-TEMP Heating, Cooling & Electrical to learn more about our indoor air quality solutions and check out our other blogs to learn more tips and tricks to keep your home’s air quality as fresh and healthy as possible!