Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is a serious problem facing homeowners today, according to the American Lung Association. The roots of this problem can be traced directly to the desire for energy-efficient homes to minimize the effects of higher energy costs. Unfortunately, making homes tighter and more energy efficient also reduces the naturally occurring exchange of indoor and outdoor air. Fresh outside air stays out, while air pollutants, excessive humidity and/or overly dry conditions stagnate the indoor air over time.
While homeowners can’t see the majority of indoor air contaminants, they certainly see the effects. These microscopic particles slowly stain walls, ceilings, furniture, drapes and carpets. Lack of humidity control can keep a home damp and sticky, while excessive dryness can crack woodwork and antiques, or create static electricity and dry skin. Particles attaching to your home’s interior have to be scrubbed, laundered or dry cleaned away at the expense of the homeowner’s time, money and effort.
But costly cleaning isn’t the only consequence of dirty, humid, or dry indoor air. It is estimated that one in ten people living in North America suffer from asthma or allergies, and pollen, mold spores and dust-mite debris are among the most troublesome triggers of such ailments. Likewise, bacteria and viruses that can be found in indoor air have the potential to cause and spread disease.
Every cubic foot of air breathed carries a mixture of millions of these tiny annoyances. In small concentrations, these particles and gases may cause discomfort in the home. In significant concentrations, they can cause sickness.
Surprisingly or not, 96.7% of North American homes have at least 1 of 6 common indoor air quality (IAQ) problems detailed below.
Controlling Indoor Air Pollution in Three Ways
Filters or neutralizes particulates found in indoor air. Air Cleaners installed just ahead of the heating and cooling equipment remove a portion of airborne pollutants each time air is pulled into the return air ducts.
Replaces a portion of the indoor air with fresh outdoor air. This process occurs naturally in all homes, but at different rates depending on the structure’s tightness. Opening windows is one way to increase the pace of air exchange, although it’s an energy-wasting solution. Energy-efficient ERV and HRV ventilation systems exchange indoor air for outdoor air while recovering most of the energy used to heat or cool the air being exhausted. Controlling fresh air entering the home allows it to be conditioned by an efficient Air Cleaner , Dehumidifier and UV Treatment System prior to passing through the home’s furnace or air conditioner.
Involves eliminating air pollutants before they enter the home. For example, by not allowing people to smoke or have pets in the home, homeowners practice source control. Such examples are not always practical. Installing whole-house Humidifiers, Dehumidifiers and UV Treatment Systems help stop the problem before they start. By maintaining optimal relative humidity levels in the home with humidity control equipment, and sterilizing pathogens with UV Treatment Systems , homeowners deter such harmful contaminants as mold, mildew, bacteria and viruses from forming.
Indoor Air Quality Homeowner Checklist
- Are you exposed to indoor air pollutants such as mold, bacteria, pollen, animal dander or tobacco smoke?
- Do you have dry air?
- Do you have static cling and/or static electricity in the winter?
- Do you have woodwork, wood furnishings, artwork, wooden musical instruments or collectibles that need to be protected and preserved?
- Do you have window condensation when temperatures drop?
- Do you own pets?
- Do you have small children?
- Does the indoor air seem stale during winter months?
Consider these simple strategies to improve your homes IAQ:
- Control pollution at the source. For example, keep windows closed during the prime ragweed season.
- Ventilate your home. Use exhaust fans when you cook or take a shower, and refresh your air with a Ventilation System.
- Filter the air with a whole-house Air Cleaner.
- Treat the air with an ultraviolet air treatment system.
- Maintain the correct relative humidity levels with a whole-house Humidifier and/or Dehumidifier.