Indoor Air Quality Factors
I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: The indoor air quality of your home is a huge factor in your comfort and health. The average person spends 90% of their time indoors, much of that at home. We all know it’s important. But what do we need to monitor?
Here, in general terms, are what we should check in our homes:
- Humidity Level – Proper humidity is vital for indoor air quality. The ideal relative humidity for health and comfort is 40%-50%. This ensures that mold and fungus has no chance to grow, while still being comfortable to sleep and live in.
- Temperature – This is important to monitor for the simple reason that some air pollutants and Toxic Chemicals thrive at specific temperatures, and setting the correct temperature can help you avoid creating an environment which fosters air pollution in your home.
- Pollutants- Pollution levels from both indoor and outdoor sources should be monitored. This includes pollutants like CO2 and particulate matter as well as allergens.
- Toxic Chemicals – Monitor VOC levels to make sure there are no toxic chemicals in your indoor environment that could impact your health.
Monitoring Indoor Air Quality
Ok, so that’s what we should be monitoring. But how do we do it? Well, I just picked up an interesting gadget called the Foobot (foobot.io) that measures VOC and Particulate Matter Levels, Temperature and Humidity Levels. It also connects to other smart home devices like Nest. It’s running the preliminary calibration right now, and should be giving me the first set of readings in the next few days. This is great for me, because I just finished remodeling a home that my wife and I moved into, and I’d like to get a sense of what we’re dealing with, and address any issues that may present themselves. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
The solution to indoor pollution is removal or dilution: By far the best way to improve the indoor air quality of your home is through proper ventilation.
So how do you ensure that your home is properly ventilated?
The biggest sources of moisture and odors in the modern home are kitchens and bathrooms. Kitchen and bath exhaust fans provide active means of removing moisture and other elements. Be sure that your kitchen and bath fans vent outdoors, rather than just recycling the air through a filter. It is also extremely important that your clothes dryer vents outdoors. Exhaust fans and ducts should be cleaned on a regular basis to remove buildups of grease, oil, lint and dirt that can attract airborne pollutants. A system that provides whole house mechanical ventilation will greatly increase the overall air quality of your home.
These systems can take many forms:
- supply only: meaning that fresh air is brought into the home but not expelled
- exhaust only: meaning that air is expelled from the home but fresh air is not brought in
- balanced: meaning that fresh air is brought in and old air is expelled.
Obviously, a balanced ventilation system is the best way to ensure healthy air quality in your home. It is also the most expensive both in terms of the equipment and energy loss to your home through expelling conditioned air.
The good news is that there are a lot of tax incentives for buying and installing energy efficient tech in your home, which can help reduce the cost of investing in a balanced ventilation system. The Department of Energy keeps a searchable database: https://energy.gov/savings
Indoor Air Quality is a big passion of mine, and I love sharing my knowledge and experience with others. If you ever have any questions about how to make your home a more healthy living environment, more energy efficient, or anything else related to building and Real Estate, get in touch!