With fall being here, that only means that winter will be quickly following… That also means that more and more people will be getting sick. At the first sign of cold weather, homeowners and renters alike will jump to seal windows and doors to keep the cold winter air out of their homes. In theory, this act makes a lot of sense, but what they don’t realize they’re doing is sealing in harmful contaminants that are floating around in their home as well.
Things like dust, pet dander, and mold are all things that can increase and spread in your home during the cold winter months and put all inhabitants at a much higher risk of allergies and getting sick. In fact, the air pollution found in your home is actually up to five times higher than it is outside, and the winter season intensifies it tremendously.
Well, with the windows being closed for months, your heating system is recirculating the same air all winter long, and that recirculated air is also filled with allergens and other harmful pollutants, leaving them to thrive in your home. Poor indoor air quality is actually the very thing that contributes to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).
According to the EPA, Sick Building Syndrome is a condition where inhabitants suffer various symptoms or illnesses from residing in a building. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, throat irritation, headaches, and tightness in your chest.
True enough, these symptoms are similar to conditions like allergies or the common cold, but the key to differentiating between a cold/allergies and SBS is to pay attention to the frequency of your symptoms. If you feel like you’re experiencing these symptoms more often than not, you may have an unhealthy home, making you more susceptible to illness, especially during the winter season.
The good news is that if your home is unhealthy, there are ways to restore it back to health… Through simple efforts and minor changes, you can keep harmful pollutants at bay, making you and your home healthier.
Tips to Keep a Healthy Home
Switch to All-Natural Cleaning Products
Those cleaning products that you’ve been using for years could be the culprit behind why you have an unhealthy home, and the recirculated air is causing you to breathe in the harmful chemicals inside those cleaning products.
If you’re like most people, you probably think that the stronger the smell, the more it kills harmful germs and bacteria. And true enough, some of these cleaning products do a wonderful job killing germs and bacteria, but they have a harmful effect on our health. The Environmental Working Group recommends avoiding cleaning products with the following compounds:
- Pine/citrus oils (can transform into formaldehyde)
There are more compounds on the EWG’s list for you to check out and compare to the labels of various cleaning products. But the safest way to go is the all-natural route. And the best part about using natural cleaners is that they’re found in your kitchen cabinets. Simply mixing vinegar and water will clean glass and baking soda and water will scrub away any tough mess.
Change Air Filters
Earlier, we discussed recirculating air with contaminants in it… Well, that’s the result of not changing your air filter appropriately. Your air filter is meant to literally filter the air in your home, so not changing them appropriately is keeping pollutants trapped in your home. A good general rule of thumb is to change your air filters every 90 days to ensure there are no dirt, dust, or allergens being trapped in your home.
Also, consider this...
In addition to changing your air filters, it’s also a good idea to consider switching to alternative energy, in an effort to reduce your energy bills. Did you know that one of the biggest reasons people get sick during the winter season is because people refuse to turn on the heat in their homes in an effort to reduce their electric bill?
People will wear layers of clothes instead of turning on the heat. If your electric bill is really high during the winter, and the thought of it stresses you out, switch to alternative energy; all you have to do is see if it’s offered in your area. For example, you can sign up for community solar in MA with a simple Google search… You can keep your house warm this winter without breaking the bank.
The winter season can wreak havoc on your home, especially if you live in an area that gets snow. Mold thrives in moisture, so if you see any signs of water damage in your home, it’s pretty safe to say that mold will follow, if it hasn’t already… That all the more reason to fix any noticeable leaks in your home.
If you can’t find the source of the leak, you want to call a plumber to come in and find it and fix it. After the leaks are fixed, you may also want to consider hiring a mold specialist to inspect your home. Mold can have very harmful effects on your upper respiratory system.