Winter is upon us, and while that may mean the start of the holiday season, it also means colder temperatures. While Texas may not be known for having some of the stiff, frigid winters that other northern states may be hit with each winter, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to regularly drop into the 40s or below. This means people everywhere will be flocking to the warmth inside and keeping their doors and windows shut until the weather warms up again.
What many people don’t realize is that in doing so, their indoor air quality will suffer greatly. Believe it or not, the average American home can have indoor air quality that’s as much as ten times worse than the air quality outside, and that can cause all sorts of issues, especially for those who struggle with allergies, asthma, or other health problems related to indoor air.
On this blog, we’ll quickly discuss four common indoor air quality hazards that you may encounter this winter and what you can do to prevent them from causing illness or discomfort.
In addition to being a time where doors and windows stay shut, the holidays are also a time where people traditionally prepare large meals full of food that may smell great now, but not so much several hours or even days later. And the thing is, with most people keeping sources of fresh air blocked out, these odors can stagnate and become stale, making the air in your home carry an unpleasant smell. And to make matters worse, over the span of a day or so you may simply become accustomed to these odors and fail to notice they’re there. That is, until company comes over and catches a whiff of the smell.
While candles and odor eliminators may fight some of this, they too are a release of chemicals into the air, and many people want to avoid it. To put it simple, the best way of freshening up the air in your home is to do just that: fill it with fresh air. During the warmest point of the day, consider opening a windows or door with a screen for about 10 minutes or so. This will allow fresh air to filter into your home, but you will lose heat in doing so. An air exchanger can also help resolve this issue.
Mold can become a huge problem during winter. When rain and moisture are common, it’s easy for a leak or source of standing water to become a food source for bacteria, and wet wood, drywall, cotton, or other materials are a breeding ground for colonies to explode and develop. Mold produces spores, and the spores are microscopic organisms that float through the air looking for new areas where they can land, settle, and further expand into new colonies.
Ideally, your HVAC system’s air filter should help with this issue, but it’s nearly impossible to get rid of mold without extremely specialized equipment. Instead, the best thing you can do to prevent mold from spreading is making sure that water and moisture is dried quickly when you discover it, and you regularly check and change your HVAC air filter to ensure as many of these spores are grabbed as possible.
People who smoke will usually try to do so outside, but when the temperature drops, this becomes a lot more uncomfortable and difficult to do. When the temperature is freezing, it’s difficult to want to bundle up just to go outside for a few minutes to have a cigarette. As a result, some people simply do away with the routine and just smoke inside during winter months. Smoke in the air causes all sorts of problems for guests, including causing unpleasant odors and releasing chemicals into the atmosphere.
To make things more interesting, cigarettes and cigars aren’t the only sources of smoke in the air during winter. Cooking is popular, as we mentioned earlier, and burning food or even just regular cooking could lead to smoke filling the atmosphere which is difficult to filter out. Smoke can trigger allergic reactions and those with respiratory issues, so it’s important to filter in fresh air as soon as possible. Consider using a fan pointed at an open window to expedite the process.
Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to fall ill during winter? Most people think it’s because of the cold temperatures outside, but the truth is it’s actually because we spend so much time indoors during this season. The more time you spend indoors, the more likely bacteria will form and eventually cause you to fall ill. This is the real reason why so many people contract a common cold during these winter months.
It can be difficult to remove bacteria from the air once it gets there, but taking your time to regularly and thoroughly clean your house, including disinfecting important surfaces, can go a long way toward prevention. Keeping bacteria at bay will not only prevent you and your loved ones from getting sick this winter, but help keep the air in your home cleaner and more enjoyable all season long.Call 72 Degrees Air Conditioning and Heating today at (830) 302-3140 and let our Kerrville HVAC services team discuss our indoor air quality issues with you!