Does Cold Weather Affect Indoor Air Quality?
During the wintertime, it’s important to have an energy efficient home. Air leaks, cold drafts and condensation are never good signs when it comes to saving money and staying warm this season. However, having a tightly sealed, energy efficient home can lead to a decrease in air circulation and a reduction of fresh air.
So, does cold weather affect indoor air quality? The short answer is yes.
Indoor Air Pollutants
Due to a lack of fresh air and an increase of time spent in the home, many homes will become saturated with indoor allergens and pollutants in the wintertime, such as:
- Pet dander
- Dead skin
- Dust mites
Poor indoor air quality can cause headaches and fatigue, and allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes and throat. Respiratory problems such as asthma can also be exacerbated by exposure to indoor pollution even after a short time.
Cold air can’t hold much water vapor, and the colder the air, the drier it is. Heating the indoor air only makes the air drier, and the result is low indoor humidity levels. This can cause:
- Dry skin
- Static electricity
- Nose bleeds
- Brittle furniture or belongings
- Squeaky hardwood floors
Maintaining humidity at a level that isn’t so low as to cause damage and discomfort, but isn’t so high as to create moisture problems inside the home is key. If outdoor temperatures are between 10 to 20 degrees, humidity indoors should not exceed 35 percent. The higher the outdoor temperature, the higher the indoor humidity should be.
A humidifier can be used to increase indoor humidity levels. These devices come in all different shapes, sizes and prices, and work by emitting water vapor thus increasing moisture in the room.
Improving Air Quality
The EPA recommends three basic strategies to improve indoor air quality:
Some sources, like those that contain asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed. Asbestos can be found in many areas of an older home such as floor tiles, window caulking, plaster and HVAC duct insulation.
Other sources of indoor air pollution, like gas stoves, fireplaces, water heaters and dryers, can be adjusted to decrease emissions.
Most home heating and cooling systems do not bring outdoor air into the home. Using attic fans, opening windows and doors, running a window unit air conditioner, or operating a kitchen or bathroom fan can improve ventilation.
Air exchangers can also help improve ventilation with Heat Recovery (HRV) and Energy Recovery (ERV) technologies. The HRVs transfer heat from exhaust air expelled from the house to the fresh air entering the house, without mixing the fresh air with the stale air. In addition to this feature, the ERVs limit too much moisture from entering the home.
The effectiveness of an air cleaner depends on how much air it draws through the filter, and how well it collects pollutants from indoor air. A high quality filter with low air-circulation won’t be helpful, nor will a cleaner with high air-circulation but a low quality filter.
Duct-mounted UV lights are an effective way to increase air quality. These work by using UV light to sterilize moving air within the return air duct—killing mold and bacteria before it reaches you.
If you want to improve the air quality in your home, give us at Reddi a call today at (316) 462-2572. We strive to offer the best in air quality and humidifier services in the Wichita area. From consultations to installations and repairs; we want to help you keep your home as healthy as possible.