Healthy Home Tips for Boosting Indoor Air Quality

Federal EPA studies have shown that a typical home contains air is more polluted than the air outside. Poor indoor air quality is a bigger problem today than it might have been years ago, as efforts to improve energy efficiency have led to tighter home construction. Air is trapped indoors and is sucked in and blown from room to room by your HVAC system.

A house with poor indoor air quality also can be uncomfortable if the air contains mold spores, chemicals, or just smells bad. Fortunately, you can take simple and straightforward steps to improve your health and your indoor air quality.

What’s in Your Air?

It’s difficult to map out a strategy for cleaning your home’s air without knowing exactly what’s wrong with it. Something you can do yourself is test for radon. Radon-testing kits are readily available at most home-improvement stores. Follow the instructions and then send the test sample to the designated lab. The existence of radon in house home – seeping up from underground into your home through the foundation, pipes, and other pathways – increases the likelihood of lung cancer and other health maladies. You can also hire a qualified pro to conduct a comprehensive air quality test in your home, as well as a more general energy assessment.


Adequate ventilation is necessary in order to create an effective exchange to stale indoor air with fresh outside air. This can be done naturally when the weather allows it by opening windows and doors, or it can be done mechanically with fans and ventilation systems. For instance, bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans remove dirty air from areas where it’s most likely to collect.

For a more aggressive approach to ventilation, many homeowners are turning to Energy Recovery Ventilation and Heat Recovery Ventilation systems (ERV and HRVs, respectively). These systems utilize parallel incoming and outgoing airstreams for active ventilation, transferring heat energy from one airstream to the other to help with cooling or heating, depending on the season. ERVs also exchange moisture, to help with efforts to control humidity inside the home.

Reduce VOC’s

You can go a long way toward improving indoor air quality by reducing pollution at the source. Avoid using chemical-laden cleaning agents, pesticides and air fresheners, and steer clear of products that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When possible, make the switch to natural products. If you have to use chemical-containing products, do it in a well-ventilated area and store the product in a safe place where fumes aren’t likely to escape. Even new furniture, carpet and drapes can emit VOCs, so some experts suggest homeowners leave new products in a clean part of the garage for a few days until they have a chance to off-gas VOCs.

Upgrade Air Filters

The basic flat-panel fiberglass filter that’s likely in your furnace or HVAC may do an OK job of protecting mechanical components from large dust particles, but it will do hardly anything to improve indoor air quality. Invest in a pleated filter for improved air-cleaning, or consider upgrading to an electrostatic or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Keep in mind, however, that the better job an air filter does at cleaning your air, the more likely it will restrict system airflow. Talk to a professional HVAC technician about finding the best filter for both your indoor air quality and your cooling and heating system operation.

Air Purifiers and Air Cleaners

These mechanical air cleaners or purifiers can remove a much higher percentage of contaminants from your indoor air than standard air filters. Some of these units use a combination of air-cleaning strategies, including HEPA filtration and UV lights. You can have your choice of investing a lot of money on a whole-house air cleaner, or spending less on a room air purifier, depending on your needs and budget.

Pretty and Functional Houseplants

Certain types of houseplant do a very good job of neutralizing VOCs and other pollutants in your home. Some of the best include the spider plant, English ivy, peace lily, Boston fern and aloe vera.

To learn more about indoor air quality in your Huntsville home, call us at 936-594-5603. WA Air Conditioning is available today to test your home’s air quality.


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April 9, 2015 4:30 pm