How to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Winter
Avoid the discomfort and even illnesses being cooped up inside all winter brings. Improve indoor air quality in at least one of seven ways.
Frigid Chicago winters are no fun. The winter of 2013-2014 marked the sixth worst in history for both freezing temperatures and snowfall. On March 1, 2015, the Chicago Tribune reported: “Saturday’s below-zero temperatures at O’Hare International Airport trumped a record low of zero degrees set in 1884, capping a month that tied the coldest February on record — that of 1875.” When snow and cold strike, we can be holed up inside our homes with windows closed for weeks or months at a time. When the “winter hibernation” period arrives, it’s important to improve indoor air quality. Make sure it’s as healthy as it can possibly be. Air that is not ventilated or circulated well becomes stale and circulates dust, dirt, mold, and other indoor air pollutants. And worse yet it can become extremely dry and irritating. Dare I say overly annoying? I know you can relate.
The Best Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Winter
1. Install a Whole-House Humidifier
Cool mist humidifiers keep moisture in cold, dry air. This is especially important in the bedrooms of small children who are prone to colds and ear infections.
If you don’t have a cool mist humidifier, you can place a bowl of water near the registers in each room to increase the humidity level. But the best way to keep humidity levels up in your home is to install and use a whole-house humidifier system. Some humidifiers automatically adjust the level of humidity inside your home according to the temperature outside.
When outdoor temperatures drop down to 10 below zero, you need a lower amount of humidity in the home than you do when the temperature outside is just at or above the freezing level. Otherwise, you can get too much moisture and condensation on the windows which encourages the growth of mold. Others automatically adjust the humidity level, so you don’t have to worry about it. Both Aprilaire and Trane have models that adjust automatically. Talk with your Blue Frost Heating & Cooling HVAC specialist about the best recommendations for your home.
2. Use a Vacuum with a HEPA Filter
When windows and doors are closed for winter, a good vacuum with a HEPA filter system can improve indoor air quality. They help by removing dust, dirt, and other allergens from the air to keep these indoor air pollutants from continuously circulating through the ductwork. And that helps to keep your family from getting sick.
3. Open Windows for Brief Periods of Time
Insulated windows help you keep the heat inside and the cold outside, and that saves energy. But they are also a detriment to healthy indoor air. When winter days happen to be mild, open some of your windows briefly to circulate fresh air inside your home. Fresh, icy-cold air can remove bacteria and virus germs that cause the flu, colds and other illnesses. Getting those nasty germs outside the home or killing them with cold air is one way to control their overgrowth.
4. Minimize the Use of Products that Emit VOCs
Pesticides, chemical cleaners, air fresheners, and other synthetic products are also a detriment to the air quality inside your home. If you must use products that emit VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), make sure you open windows and provide good ventilation to let them flow outdoors and improve indoor air quality.
5. Install an Air Filter/Cleaner on Your Furnace
A quality air filtration system installed right on your furnace works best. It works far better than an ordinary air filter that you place in front of your furnace air-intake valve does. Why? It doesn’t impede the airflow of the heating system, and it provides the best performance in removing even the smallest irritating particles. What’s more, these air filtration systems can be removed and cleaned. This eliminates the need to run to the store to buy new filters.
Aprilaire, Honeywell, and Trane provide these types of products. The Trane CleanEffects Air Cleaner is designed to work perfectly with your Trane furnace.
6. Place Free-Standing Air Filters Anywhere in Your Home
Free-standing air cleaners and filters can be placed anywhere in your home. All that is needed for them to operate is electricity via a plug in the wall. Our Blue Frost Heating & Cooling experienced and professional specialists will visit your home and recommend the right solution to improve indoor air quality in your home. Contact Blue Frost Heating & Cooling at (630) 444-0860 to schedule a time that is right for you.
7. Install a UV Light Purification System
Installing a UV Light Purification system is a great idea if you are trying to keep germs at bay in your home. UV light(s) come in one- and two-bulb units. They are mounted in the supply air plenum, near the air conditioner indoor coil and humidifier. When moisture collects in these dark areas, mildew and mold begin to grow. UV lights use the same powerful rays the sun generates to kill spores, germs, and viruses they come in contact with. They can be very useful for those that are allergic to mold and/or mildew.
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