Indoor Air Quality During the Winter – What You Should Know

woman and child sit in front of window making snowflakes in winterAs the winter months roll in here on Long Island, many people are spending more time indoors. Keeping cozy in a warm, comfortable home is always welcome. Sometimes, however, the air in our homes can become less hospitable during the colder months. There are many factors that can contribute to poor indoor air quality, or IAQ, during the winter.

You may be concerned about the indoor air quality in your home this winter. You might be wondering how you can identify whether or not you have IAQ issues, and what you can do if your home’s air quality is a problem. In this article, we’ll discuss winter indoor air quality concerns, and ways you can ensure that the air you and your family breathe is healthy, no matter what the season.

What IAQ concerns can occur during the winter months?

Many people notice an uptick in physical complaints during the winter months. Allergies, respiratory concerns, and dry skin are often problems for many people in the winter. Some of this can be contributed to poor indoor air quality. Today’s homes are built to be more energy-efficient, and while that’s a good thing, it can also mean that the home is more closed off to fresh outdoor air, especially when it’s cold outside and windows can’t be opened to allow fresh air inside. Learn more below about some specific IAQ concerns that can lead to physical discomfort.

  • Airborne Particles: While there are likely some particles, such as dust and dander, in the air you breathe in your home all year long, during the winter months they can become overly abundant. This is especially true for homeowners who use a forced air system, like a furnace, to heat their homes. The reason for this is that the air circulates through your home’s heating ducts time and time again, and without the proper filtration, those particles continue to circulate throughout the home as well.
  • Viruses and Bacteria: During the winter months, people often experience illnesses that are related to certain viruses and bacteria. Many times, everyone in the family can end up with a particular ailment, like the common cold or strep throat. Unfortunately, it’s easy for viruses and bacteria to circulate through the home’s HVAC system, much like dust and dander.
  • Dry Indoor Air: Unlike warm summer air, the colder air of winter holds very little moisture. Couple that with the dry heat often produced by heating equipment, and the air in your home can become overly dry during the winter months. When the air is too dry, you might experience itchy, flaky skin, irritated mucous membranes, and sore throats. As far as your home itself is concerned, wood flooring and fixtures can become warped or cracked, and paint can crack and peel as well.

How can I improve my indoor air quality during the winter?

Fortunately, there are some highly effective products available on the market today that can help dramatically improve your indoor air quality, during the winter and all year long. Some of these products include:

  • High-efficiency air cleaners. These are a much more effective solution than standard filters.
  • Photocatalytic oxidizing air purifier. This chemically treats the air to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are the byproducts of common household materials like paint, carpet, vinyl flooring, air fresheners, cleaning products, and more, as well as other pollutants.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) germicidal lights. UV lights can kill up to 99% of airborne contaminants like mold, bacteria, and viruses.
  • Whole-home humidifiers. A whole-house humidifier can cut down on dry eyes, itchy skin, and scratchy throats, reduce static electricity in the home and protect woodwork and furniture.

I’d like to learn more about improving my home’s indoor air quality. Can T.F. O’Brien help me get the products I need?

We sure can! If you’re ready for a whole-house air quality solution that will ensure a safe, healthy environment your family and guests can truly enjoy, call us. No two homes are the same, and we’ll be happy to send one of our Home Comfort Advisors to meet with you at your convenience to evaluate your unique situation, make recommendations, and provide you with the products you need to start seeing improvements in your home’s IAQ right away. Simply contact us online or give us a call at 516.488.1800, and we’ll be happy to schedule an appointment with you.