Many homeowners today keep their heating bills down over the winter by insulating their homes against the cold and sealing off cold air drafts entering from the outside. However, without the influx of fresh outside air, the air inside becomes stale and unhealthy.
Dust, pet dander, and other allergens build up. Combustion gases from gas stoves, and heating systems badly in need of furnace repair also contribute to the unhealthy air. While opening the windows isn’t an option in the winter, there are other ways of solving this problem. Here are four suggestions:
- Use your fan hood when cooking. While in use, your gas stove releases combustion gases into the kitchen air. You may not see or smell them, but they are there if you don’t use a fan hood. These combustion gases include nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde.
- Keep your house clean. House dust contains skin cells, human hair, pet dander, cloth fibers, paper fibers, mold spores, and plant pollen. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which filters out small particles that would otherwise get blown back into the air. Have your HVAC ducting system cleaned of dirt and debris buildup and get it sealed to prevent it from drawing in contaminants.
- Use heat recovery ventilators. A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) draws in fresh outside air with one fan, and exhausts stale indoor air to the outside with a second fan. The heat from the outgoing air is extracted and transferred to the incoming air. HRVs use heat exchangers that allow heat from the warm outgoing air to flow into and warm up the cool incoming air. HRVs also use filters to remove particulate matter.
- Keep up with your furnace maintenance. An inefficient and poorly maintained furnace can produce and possibly release carbon monoxide and other combustion gases into your home. A furnace has many components that age and become filled with dirt over the years. Like all mechanical systems, it requires regular maintenance.