Temperatures are finally cooling off after the long, hot summer; what’s great news for your air conditioner is bad news for your indoor air quality. Cooler weather means closed windows and turning on heaters for the first time in months. That means that the dust, allergens, and other indoor pollutants are trapped in your home and circulated in the warm air.
Fall is the busiest season for dust mites due to the humidity and moisture that were around in July and August, for ragweed because August through November is its pollination season, and for mold due to all the moist leaves that the trees will soon drop and leave piling up on the ground. All of these things can make this a miserable time of year for anyone with allergies, asthma, or other breathing difficulties.
There are several things you can do to help keep your air healthy and clean. First, the single-best way to improve indoor air quality is to open some windows as often as temperatures permit.
- Before you turn on your furnace for the first time, have it tuned-up and cleaned. A qualified technician will ensure that everything is in working order, running at peak efficiency, and not in danger of emitting toxic carbon monoxide. Be sure to clean your vents as well. The first time you request hot air, you don’t want it with a side order of dust. Wipe the inside and outside of all register covers with a wet cloth. Or, better yet, have your ducts professionally cleaned to remove allergens that can lurk there.
- Schedule activities that can emit toxic odors, such as painting, for days when you can open the windows, even if the paint you’ve chosen is low-VOC.
- Control dust, dust mites, and other particulate matter, by having any carpets professionally steam cleaned and vacuum using HEPA-type filters.
- Change air filters with high-quality clean filters every month.
- Don’t burn petroleum-based or lead-wick candles. Sounds like a small thing, but these types of candles emit toxic air into your home for hours at a time. Instead opt for beeswax, soy, and vegetable oils. Use lead-free wicks.
- Using chemical cleaners emits toxins into your indoor air. That’s why the smell burns your nostrils. Use natural cleaners or make your own. Cleaner air, less expensive, and they clean just as well.
- Fix any plumbing leaks so that bacteria, mold, and mildew don’t have a place to grow. Saves on your water bill, too.
Fall is a great season to think about finally installing the air cleaner or UV germicidal lamp you’ve been thinking about. Each one of these devices serves its own purpose in keeping your air clean and in keeping you healthier. They are especially important if anyone in your home has any breathing difficulties.
Fall can be a beautiful time of year. It can also be the worst time of year for the air in your home. However, with a few simple precautions, you’ll be breathing easy long into winter.