Illustrations by Charlotte Shen
We always say that a homebody is someone who enjoys the comfort and simple pleasures of being at home. That means most homebodies, per their label, spend a great deal of their time in the cozy confines of their castles. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. 87% of their life is in buildings, while another 6% is in cars. We are indeed a homebody nation!
It may be a little worrying to consider that indoor air quality is often worse than the air outside! According to the EPA, in fact, the levels of indoor air pollutants can be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels, and in some cases up to 100 times that of outdoor levels of the same pollutants! In other words, the place you think is giving you refuge from pollution might be harming you more!
There are measures you can take, however, to improve the quality of your home’s air. Read on for some useful tips to clean up your breathing space. Take just a few of these steps and you’ll be breathing a sigh of relief!
Common Air Pollutants
Air pollutants can range from contaminants brought in from the outdoors by your pets to dangerous gas leaks. Carbon monoxide is a common air pollutant resulting from natural gas that escapes into your home without being burned off. Older homes may contain asbestos and lead particles, which can be damaging to the lungs when released into the air. In bathrooms and kitchens, mold and mildew can become a nuisance where moisture levels are typically higher than in the rest of your house. Dust and dander are notorious for lowering the air quality in your home, and there are still other pollutants that can not only dirty up the air, but lead to other health complications. Radon and carcinogens from cleaning supplies and building materials contribute to poor air quality, and can also cause cancers. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from paint and even from some kinds of carpeting and upholstery materials can cause problems. Cigarette smoke can be a culprit, too.
Here are 6 steps you can take right away to improve the air quality in your home:
1. Change Your AC Filter
Heating and air-conditioning systems are always working to give your home that perfect temperature all year round. But while they’re cycling through all that air, they’re filtering out some of those common air pollutants. Eventually, their air filters fill up and stop doing their job. Not only does that cause trouble for your indoor air quality, it also wears down your AC system, which can lead to costly repairs down the road. So, be sure to change your AC filters regularly, or get an air conditioning service plan which normally includes a filter change – especially if you are allergy-prone or live in a metropolitan area with high levels of pollution. It’s recommended that you change/clean your air filters every 90 days, but if you have a pet, you may want to do it every 60 days. If you have multiple pets and/or someone in the house suffers from allergies, you might want to change filters once a month.
2. Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned
Air ducts are responsible for distributing hot and cold air throughout your home, providing a comfortable climate in every room. But ducts that are not installed properly or maintained can distribute contaminants from one room to another. Over time, dust, dander and even mold can accumulate in your ducts, reducing the overall air quality. Hire a professional to make sure your ducts are circulating fresh, clean air. Experts say doing this every 3-5 years is enough, but if you think your home generates a lot of pollutants (ie. if there are pets, smokers, or if allergies are a problem), you may need to do it as often as every 2 years.
3. Keep Your Rugs, Curtains, Carpets, Bedding, Blankets and Upholstery Clean
These fabric components of your home do more than increase the comfort of your home. They act as their own air filters, trapping dust and other particles in their many fibers. Clean your carpets and rugs weekly and they will keep working for you, improving the air quality in your home just by lying there!
4. Control Humidity in Your Home
Humid and moist conditions breed mold and mildew that can trigger respiratory issues like allergies and asthma. Depending on your location, the hot summer months can bring about especially humid conditions. Reduce the amount of moisture in the air and curb the growth of irritating molds with a few well-placed dehumidifiers. There are a variety of humidifier options that will help maintain consistent humidity levels and create comfortable living conditions in your home.
5. Buy Indoor Plants to Freshen the Air
Plants are nature’s natural air filters. Buying a few indoor plants can do wonders to improve the indoor air quality in your home, while enhancing your home décor. Small plants like ferns and lilies (which bloom indoors) and larger palm trees are the best options to pull contaminants out of the air. Hanging a few of these around the house couldn’t hurt either. Activated charcoal binds to or “adsorbs” many toxins and other irritants that might be in your air, albeit on a small scale – beeswax candles are said to do the same.
6. Serious About Air Quality? Get a HEPA Air Purifier
If you feel you want to go the extra mile to make sure your home’s air is as clean as possible, you should consider a home air purifier with HEPA filter technology. Here are 5 of the Top Rated units selling on Amazon.com currently (*click on thumbnail images to see more on Amazon.com):
5 FAMTOP True HEPA Filter Purifier 4-in-1 Low Noise Home Air Cleaner
The FAMTOP air purifier can cover area of about 269 ft², and features free Amazon product support and ultra -quiet functioning. Rated 5/5 stars over 41 reviews.
4 VEVA 8000 Elite Pro Series Air Purifier
This unit features “activated charcoal nano-technology “to provide fresh clean air throughout a large room. 2 Year warranty. Rated 4.6/5 for 927 reviews.
3 RENPHO Air Purifier for Home
Made for rooms up to 301 sq.ft, this product features a Smart Mode, and a filter indicator to tell you when to change filters. Rated 4.8 out of 5 over 99 reviews
2 Inofia Air Purifier with True HEPA Air Filter
Touting a double filter technology that they claim filters air faster, this item has received a 4.8 star rating to date with 70 reviews.This powerhouse is designed for rooms up to 1056 Sq Ft. Can be used with mobile app.
1 LEVOIT Air Purifier for Home
With a rating of 4.3 of 5 Stars, and over 1,435 customer reviews, this one is a fan favorite. 100% ozone free, it features efficient carbon HEPA filter, Smart Filter Life technology and Auto Mode that adjusts fan speed according to current air quality. For 360 sq. ft. room size.
*This article contains affiliate links to Amazon.com. If you use these links to purchase, we may receive a small affiliate commission