When winter settles in for a few months in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield (IL), we’re typically the most concerned with guarding ourselves from the cold. We keep windows and doors tightly sealed and run the furnace to stay warm.
What we might not know is that the measures we take to resist the cold also compromise the indoor air that we breathe. That’s because sealing ourselves inside a warm home prevents the ventilation that moves allergens and contaminants out of our air. Rather, they can gather and permeate. This becomes even more the case as we keep raising the efficiency of airtight insulation, windows and doors.
Without the cycle of warm air escaping and cold air entering, we breathe recirculated air instead of fresh air. That air can include material such as dust, dirt, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, cooking fumes, cigarette smoke and residues from household chemicals.
As unventilated air keeps building, it can prompt drowsiness and fatigue and trigger allergies and respiratory conditions such as asthma. For some people, long-term exposure to air with increasingly poor quality can develop into serious health problems.
While that might sound grave, maintaining air quality is well within your reach. Let’s look at some ways you can keep your air more pure until you can swing your windows wide open again.
Indoor Air Quality Tips for Winter
Indoor air quality will often depend on factors such as the age and size of the home as well as the number of people occupying it. A winter’s severity and length also will play a part. However, any homeowner can reduce indoor air impurities. You can follow these steps well into the future for enjoying fresher air at home when it’s cold out.
Indoor Air Quality: Maintain a Clean House
While it could go without saying, it’ll bear repeating anyway: A cleaner house is one that circulates fewer impurities and makes maintaining air quality easier.
Regularly cleaning and vacuuming the house cuts down on dust, dirt, pet dander, mold, pollen and other pollutants that will otherwise cycle through your indoor air. A vacuum with a HEPA filter is highly recommended. Whenever possible, use non-toxic cleaning products as well. If you must use more-toxic chemicals, ensure the room has ventilation to prevent fumes from lingering.
In addition to floors, rugs and surfaces, consider areas such as linens, drapes, ceiling-fan blades and spaces between and under appliances in your cleaning routine.
Indoor Air Quality: Keep the Ducts Clean
Our HVAC system is a leading line of defense against air impurities. A major part of our HVAC that contributes to indoor air quality is the duct network.
Over time, a lot of pollutants and foreign material can collect in the ducts. If not cleaned out, those impurities can cycle into the air we breathe – even more so in winter, when we have less ventilation.
In addition to checking and changing your furnace’s air filter regularly, consider having your ducts inspected and cleaned and ensure they are properly sealed.
Indoor Air Quality: Control Sources of Pollution
Whenever possible, aim to restrict other common household pollutants at the source. A few examples can include fumes from stove cooking, gas emissions from old equipment and, in some cases, exposed asbestos. For reasons we’ve touched on, these impurities’ potential hazards become even more pronounced in winter.
You also can focus on high-traffic areas such as house entries and their mats or rugs. These can be major generators of dirt and dust that spread into the house. You can limit these impurity factories by sweeping and vacuuming them often.
You can also consider having one dedicated spot for stomping dirty feet and removing shoes as opposed to several at different doors.
Indoor Air Quality: Install an Air Purifier
The steps we’ve discussed thus far can support your objective to breathe cleaner air indoors in winter. To complete your mission, you can install an air purification system at your home in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora or Plainfield.
An air purifier is an appliance made to trap and remove your indoor air’s impurities by “scrubbing” all of the air in a room. It achieves this by drawing in unfiltered air and trapping particulate matter and contaminants such as gas, odors and chemicals. Some systems also can kill airborne pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. Certain units can purify the air several times each hour as well.
Installed in your home’s HVAC system, today’s powerful air purifiers typically include:
pre-filter. It’s usually washable, and some can be antimicrobial.
True HEPA (or H13 HEPA) filter. The True HEPA filter can snare up to 99.97% of 0.3-micron particles, while the H13 HEPA filter can trap 99.9% of 0.1-micron airborne pollutants.
activated carbon filter. Made of granular carbon, it traps smoke, chemicals, odors and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
If desired, you can install multiple air purifiers for different rooms. As one example, an air purifier with a clean air delivery rate (CADR) of 300+ cubic feet per minute (cfm) can be ideal for large rooms.
You can install a whole-home air purification system as well. Some air purifiers also have “smart” air quality sensors that can detect pollutants in real time and adjust accordingly to clean the air.
Because air purifiers include filters, it’s important to check and replace them on a schedule, which might often range from six to 12 months.
Indoor Air Quality: Consider Humidity
One other factor that impacts indoor air quality in winter is humidity. Air becomes drier in winter, and dry air can induce problems such as dry lips and skin and nose and throat conditions that raise the chance of getting sick.
The indoor humidity level at home should be between 40% and 60%. Whether as a one-room or a whole-house unit, a humidifier adds moisture to and regulates your indoor air so it remains in the target range for comfort and health.
Your Local Resource for Indoor Air Quality: Contact Us Today
As community HVAC and air quality specialists, Air Dynamics supports Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora or Plainfield ( (IL) homeowners with the solutions for indoor air that is more desirable to live in. We’d be glad to discuss your questions or thoughts about your air quality at home. Give us a call at (630) 731-1550!