8 Simple Ways to Improve Your Air Quality at Home
Your indoor air can be just as polluted as your outdoor air, but it’s usually not as obvious to you when it happens. That’s because you can’t see the pollutants, nor are they easy to smell or taste. Even if you don’t live in an urban area where there are obvious pollutants in the air, that doesn’t mean your home isn’t full of unhealthy chemicals. In fact, there are eight (relatively) simple things you can do to improve your air quality at home right now.
Replace your filter.
If you want cleaner air, make sure your HVAC filter is in tip-top shape. In some cases, a simple vacuum and rinse of your existing filter may be enough; other times, you’ll need to replace it completely. No matter which option you choose, keep track of when it’s time for a replacement—typically after two or three months depending on how much dust and debris are in your area. Once every few months or so, remove and check your filter.
Clean your filter every 6 months
Keeping your furnace filters clean is crucial in preventing bad air quality. Check them every 6 months and make sure they are cleaned if they have been exposed to dust or any other contaminants. This can improve your air quality significantly, so make sure you do it on time. If you don’t know when it was last done, have it done right away. Don’t forget to replace the dirty filter with a new one as soon as possible.
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Clean your furnace
You’d be surprised what gets kicked up in your home with every passing second. The number of dust particles floating through your house is staggering, and they all get stuck in your furnace. Over time, these particles build up and reduce airflow through your heating vents. Check out YouTube for specific instructions on how to clean a furnace filter (your local library or hardware store should also have more information).
You may be shocked by how much dirt you’ve accumulated in only a few months—and what effect it’s having on the air quality inside your home. Running a vacuum regularly can also help cut down on dust buildup; just make sure not to push too hard against your ductwork or you could end up damaging it.
Clean your central air conditioner coils
Cleaning your central air conditioner coils is an easy way to improve air quality. If your air conditioning smells musty or is less effective than it used to be, that’s a sign that you should clean it—even if you don’t notice any issues with your cooling system. Filters are cheap and they last a long time, so there’s no reason not to clean them regularly. Try once a month in the spring and summer months and once every three months during fall and winter for optimal results.
Get a humidifier
Humidifiers add moisture to dry indoor air, which helps kill dust mites, fungus and bacteria. In areas with severe droughts, humidifiers can also reduce your heating costs. While there are some portable humidifiers that run on batteries or electricity, many are simple and easy to use: just fill them with water daily and prop them in a corner of your bedroom overnight.
Use indoor plants to help clean the air
Indoor plants are helpful in making sure air quality is good for everyone in your home. It can help improve the health conditions of those who live with allergies or respiratory problems, and it’s also beneficial for anyone who likes to breathe clean air. In addition, indoor plants also help reduce stress. Having them indoors will not only make you feel better but reduce your electric bill as well! Check out some tips on which type of plant works best depending on where you live—all types of plants have their own carbon dioxide absorbing properties that are beneficial.
Never buy candles and open burning indoors
Candles and open-flame fires release toxins like benzene and formaldehyde into your home’s air, which can irritate sensitive parts of your respiratory system. Keep in mind that both candles and fireplaces are risky if you have small children or pets in your home. Smoke from these sources is easy to smell but harder for children and animals to get away from quickly. If you’re buying candles for ambience, consider hanging silk or paper lanterns instead.
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Keep your doors and windows closed when cooking on a gas stove
The Environmental Protection Agency says indoor air can be up to 5x more polluted than outdoor air. The culprit is often gas stoves, which emit carbon monoxide, ammonia, and many other harmful chemicals when in use. To keep your air clean while cooking on a gas stove, make sure you keep all doors and windows closed while cooking; open them as soon as you’re done. If possible, consider using an electric stove instead of a gas one—especially if you have children or pets who could be harmed by inhaling toxic fumes.