December 16, 2016
How Important Is Indoor Air Quality In The Winter?
Well, it is way more important than indoor air quality in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Why is that you might ask? The number one reason why is because we spend more time in our homes in the winter than any other season. Our houses are also closed up more in the winter. I am sure you have heard the term “cabin fever”. Could this old time malaise be caused by poor indoor air quality?
The biggest comfort issue in the winter is low humidity.
Low humidity can cause sinus issues and dry skin. It also makes your home feel colder. Low humidity is caused by heating the air in our homes, or really heating the outside air. Keep in mind that all the air in your home came from the outside. Let’s look at a typical winter condition. The outside temperature is 20 degrees, and the relative humidity is 50 percent. We are going to heat the outside to 70 degrees. What happens to the relative humidity? It goes way down because warm air can hold more moisture than cold air. The humidity is relative to the temperature.
Now, let’s not get too technical and go into the why and what not. The bottom line is that the house is going to be dry in the winter and you are going to get static shocks, wake up with a sore throat and nose, and have dry itchy skin. We won’t mention all the terrible things that happen to your woodwork, furniture and electronic devices when they are subject to a dry environment.
So, what we really want to do is come up with a solution for this problem. Enter the whole house humidifier.
The whole house humidifier has been around for years. It is typically installed on your warm air furnace to add moisture. There are different types of humidifiers. One is the evaporative type that diverts some of the hot air from the furnace over a water soaked pad. It evaporates the water into the air stream. Another one is a steam humidifier, which heats the water to create steam injected into the environment.
Another major issue in the winter is stale air.
We typically don’t open our windows in the winter. So, the air inside tends to hang around longer than it should. Your home has higher levels of pollutants than outside of your home. Volatile organic compounds that come out as gas from items found in our homes, like: carpet, furniture, bedding, electronics, and cleaning agents, can build up to unhealthy levels. Viruses and bacteria are also hanging around. I think this contributes to the increased volume of people getting sick in the winter.
What are the solutions to this stale air in your home?
Energy recovery ventilators or ERV’s bring in fresh air from the outside and exhaust stale house air to the outside. They do this in an energy efficient manor by transferring the heat from the stale air to the fresh air coming in so you don’t have to pay to heat the fresh air from the outside.
Another method is to clean your home using a combination of filtration, ultra violet germicidal lamps, and purifiers. Filters are used to capture particulates. They are so advanced that they can even remove some bacteria and viruses. Germicidal ultra violet lights are placed in the ducts. They kill viruses and bacteria that are traveling in the air stream. Air purifiers use technologies like photo catalytic oxidation to neutralize voc’s and turn them into CO2 and water vapor. Or, they use a catalyst to create of hydro peroxide ions that go into the air stream to kill bacteria and viruses throughout your home.
These solutions for you indoor air quality will give you a healthier indoor environment in the winter and also protect your home. Wishing you a safe and comfortable winter season.