More efficient, tightly built homes than those constructed in previous generations are generally well-regarded, for the most part with good reason. However, when you consider people spend 90 percent of their time indoors on average, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), such airtight environments raise some concerns.
All that efficiency cuts down on airflow, effectively trapping allergens and toxins inside. According to estimates from the EPA, the air inside the average home may be as much as five times more polluted than the air outdoors, even in a bustling city.
“We know instinctively that spending so many hours in stuffy places isn’t good for us,” said Peter Foldbjerg, head of daylight energy and indoor climate at Velux. “According to research, living in damp and moldy homes increases our risk of asthma by 40 percent and leaves us vulnerable to developing other ailments.”
Limited fresh air and light during the day can negatively impact mood, sleep and performance. Air pollution can also pose a health risk through irritation to the eyes, nose and throat; headaches, dizziness and fatigue; and respiratory conditions, heart disease and cancer. To help alleviate some of these concerns, consider these tips.
Bring the outside in.
Even a small step like adding some potted plants, which are known to purify air, can improve your indoor environment. In addition, think of how you could create a better view to the outside through smart use of windows, skylights and doors that bring in fresh air and daylight.
Rely on natural air flow.
Open your windows 3-4 times a day, at least 10 minutes at a time, to allow fresh air in. To complement natural light and fresh air from vertical windows, consider adding skylights to rooms you use most often. Skylights that can be opened, such as those offered by Velux, contribute to greater indoor comfort and ventilation by removing excess heat, moisture, odors and other indoor pollutants. They can also help reduce the need for air-conditioning due to the chimney effect, which occurs when skylights and vertical windows are both opened, allowing warm, stale air to rise and escape through the roof, replaced by fresh air drawn in through traditional windows.
Eliminate potential obstacles.
Avoid blocking fresh air with drapes, blinds and other hindrances, like heavy furniture placed too close to windows. Also consider other aspects of your home that could be thwarting your efforts to improve air circulation and quality, such as dust, dirt and mold. Regular and thorough cleaning can help keep those irritants at bay and make your quest for cleaner air easier.