Poor air quality does much more than diminish your views - it's also one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The World Health Organization reports that one in every nine deaths can be traced to air pollution and that over 90% of the world's population live in areas with less-than-ideal air quality.
When the air outside turns nasty, doctors, local governments, and the EPA all recommend heading indoors. Unfortunately, the great indoors may not be as good a respite as you'd like depending on a few key factors.
Below, we talk you through the ins and outs of indoor air quality. We'll also discuss how to keep your indoor air breathable, starting with your windows.
What You Need to Know About Indoor Air Quality
Outdoor air pollution comes from a variety of sources, from car emissions to factories and smoke, and enters your home through open doors, windows, and cracks. Then, as your HVAC unit circulates air, the pollutants become more concentrated the longer the unit cycles without drawing in fresh oxygen.
To make matters worse - and explain why indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor - your home traps pollutants from indoor sources that mix with the pollutants in outdoor air. Some of the most common indoor air pollutants include:
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from paint fumes, new furniture, and chemical cleaning products
Mold, mildew, and dust
Aerosols (e.g. hairspray bottles)
Although outdoor air pollution is unequivocally terrible for your health, combined with these indoor air pollutants, it becomes downright hazardous.
Luckily, you aren't helpless when it comes to cleaning up your home's air. Along with changing your air filters frequently, reducing damp spots where mold can grow, and minimizing your use of chemical cleaners, start enlisting your windows in the fight against bad air.
1. Choose Double- or Triple-Pane Windows
Upgrading to thicker windows and sealing old cracks is the perfect first step in combatting bad air. Why? Many older homes have single-pane windows. These windows don't do much to prevent heat exchange between the indoors and outdoors, which means your HVAC equipment has to work harder to cool your home in summer and warm it in winter.
Single-pane windows also tend to be draftier, and cracks around these aging windows let pollutants blow in, which is the main reason your home smells like smoke if a wildfire is nearby. In contrast, newer doubleand triple-pane windows have a layer of compressed air between each pane to minimize heat exchange and cut down on draftiness.
2. Open Your Windows on Green Air Days
Open doors and windows are how polluted outdoor air enters your home, so you should shut doors and windows tight on yellow or red days. However, on a green air day, open the windows and swap out the bad indoor air for fresh outdoor air to break your HVAC's polluted air cycle.
Of course, just because the air looks clean doesn't mean it's pollution free - you can't usually see the pollution right in front of your face, so the air tends to appear clear even if it isn't. Download an app like the NOAA Weather Radar to get the weather forecast, temperature, humidity, pollen count, and air quality index for your zip code in real time.
If your windows are hard to open (or don't open at all), choose new windows you can swing wide when the outdoor air quality permits. A professional can help you find secure windows that can't be tampered with from the outside - you shouldn't have to compromise your safety simply to breathe easier indoors.
Looking to update your windows and fight indoor air pollution in Tennessee? Contact Russell's Glass & Mirror for a free estimate. You can also check out our blog to learn more about using windows and mirrors to beautify your home or office space.