According to an EPA survey, the average American spends up to 90 percent of their time indoors.
As experts in creating healthy living environments, the Healthier Homes team offers six easy steps for cultivating a living environment where you can be healthier, happier, and more productive.
1. exterior maintenance
We spend the majority of our time inside. Which has likely increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as some of us are working from home more often. This is exactly why the condition of your indoor living environments has such a lasting impact on your well-being and quality of life. For starters, keeping an eye on the outside of your home and fix even minor issues before they become expensive problems.
This includes checking your roof for missing shingles or tiles and inspecting outside walls for cracks in the mortar and stucco, which can develop over time as temperatures fluctuate. Also, make sure the land surrounding your home is sloped to properly drain rainwater away from the foundation and gutters are intact.
2. thermal health
Pulling in filtered fresh air from outside is essential to proper indoor HVAC ventilation. Keep your home’s thermostat at a comfortable level throughout the day to ensure continuous circulation of clean air.
Consider opening a window when running interior exhaust vents in bathrooms or the kitchen to avoid creating negative pressure, which can pull unwanted air into your home from an attic or crawl space.
Whole home systems that work with your HVAC to dehumidify the air can do wonders for air quality.
We always pair each dehumidification system with a whole home air purification, too. Your lungs will thank you!
3. indoor air quality
A recent Harvard University study found that over 82,000 chemicals are present in the average indoor space. This toxic concoction of indoor air pollutants comes from everything inside a building, including the glues used to adhere typical construction products and the chemicals found in many leather treatments, wood lacquers, paints, and home finishes. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do about it. Here’s where we recommend starting:
Use filters with integrated charcoal or silver, which help trap odors as well as indoor pollution and allergens. We prefer filters rated MERV-13 or greater, but be aware that higher ratings may place more strain on your HVAC unit. (Ask your HVAC professional what will work best with your current unit.
Replace carpet with porcelain tile or no-VOC hardwood floors to cut back on airborne dust and other pollutants. Solid surfaces are much easier to keep clean.
Periodically flush HVAC drain lines with a bleach solution to mitigate mildew and grime odors in these damp locations, and clean your cooling coils every six months to prevent mildew.
An estimated 85 percent of U.S. buildings have water damage and/or leaks.
That's an astonishing number of spaces with moisture problems. Moisture inside a home can quickly create hazards such as mold growth and weakened structural integrity.
Periodically check plumbing and drainpipes under sinks for leaks and maintain proper flashing around windows and awnings to avoid exterior leaks from heavy rains.
Managing your home’s humidity levels is easy with a separately controlled dehumidifier that integrates into the HVAC system. Between 35 and 55 percent relative humidity is ideal.
5. water quality
Despite sanitation efforts, city and underground water sources are often contaminated with unsafe heavy metals, pathogens, and chemical particulates. Your stomach, skin, and lungs act as sponges, making the quality of your drinking water just as important as the water you use to bathe and cook with.
A whole-house water purifier can cater to your specific impurities and is well worth the investment to eliminate up to 99 percent of harmful water contaminants. Plus whole home systems can dramatically decrease hard water mineral buildup on plumbing fixtures and shower glass. If a whole home system is on the wish list, opt for point of use filters for now that can attach to sink and shower faucets. Just remember to switch them out on a regular basis to keep them working efficiently.
A clean and organized living environment is essential to maintaining focus and mental clarity. Here are a few easy ways to make that happen:
Clear out clutter from closets, the home office, the pantry, and the garage.
Keep countertops clean and home décor simple and elegant.
If you haven't used it in 6 months, evaluate whether you really need it.
If you haven't used it in a year, sell it, donate it or trash it.
Remember that time cleaning and organizing is time well spent!
For more healthy home tips, check out our series of eBooks: Healthy Kitchens, Clean Air 101, and Clean Water 101. The Healthier Homes book is also a great resource that touches on all facets of a healthier home and wellness integrated lifestyle.
Have ideas you’d like to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts. The comments section below is all yours!