Breathe in, breathe out. Just like every living being on earth, your home also has a respiratory system that needs to function efficiently for a healthy and energetic lifestyle. With the change in lifestyle and modern design preferences, the natural process of air movement has been obstructed, resulting in contaminated indoor air. The movement of fresh air is essential for domestic hygiene as it controls the level of moisture which eliminates condensation and dampness and consequently flushes out bacteria, viruses, dust particles, and foul smell suspended in air, which is paramount in times of such a pandemic.
Here are 7 tips for homeowners to keep their homes well-ventilated and unmask the potential health hazards.
Cross Ventilation: An age-old concept, cross ventilation has been used for centuries to improve indoor air quality and create a comfortable living environment. Cross ventilation requires two windows or openings in a space, with one opening perpendicular to the wind direction with high pressure, and the other outlet on the side with low wind pressure. This creates a pressure difference that triggers the natural movement of air, resulting in a cool and comfortable indoor environment.
In a location such as Chennai, which experiences predominant wind directions from the South-East and North-West, having windows in those directions can be particularly effective for creating a positive cross-ventilation effect. However, it’s important to note that the exact placement and design of windows can vary depending on the specific climate and geography of the location.
In addition to providing natural ventilation, cross ventilation can also help to reduce the buildup of indoor air pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be harmful to human health. It’s a sustainable and energy-efficient way to create a healthy and comfortable indoor living environment and can be particularly effective in areas with mild to moderate climates.
Regulate Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans aid greatly in air circulation and reduce the buildup of stale air and fumes indoors. Running the ceiling fan at a low speed, even while the AC is switched on, can help to circulate the cool air throughout the room, which can help to create a more comfortable indoor environment and reduce the workload of the AC.
The wind chill effect produced by the ceiling fan can make it feel more relaxed in the room, which can allow you to set the AC at a slightly higher temperature without sacrificing comfort. This can result in lower energy usage and lower electricity bills, as the AC won’t need to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature.
Ceiling fans do not lower the temperature in the room, but rather create a cooling sensation by increasing air movement. Therefore, it’s important to use the ceiling fan in conjunction with the AC to create an overall comfortable and efficient indoor environment.
Open-Up Internal Doors: When cross ventilation is rare in modern designs, leaving internal bedroom doors open, or leaving minimal space open to allow the passage of a sheet of air virtually 1″ thick, can allow the escape of internal bedroom air and inflow of fresh external air. Unused spaces with little movement of air should be avoided.
However, it’s important to balance the need for air circulation with the need for privacy and security. Leaving doors or windows open can create a potential security risk and leaving them open all night may not always be practical or desirable. In situations where leaving a door or window open is not feasible, other ventilation strategies may need to be employed, such as using an air purifier or mechanical ventilation system.
t’s also important to avoid opening up unused spaces with no or little movement of air, as this can create stagnant pockets of air that can contribute to indoor air pollution. It’s a good idea to regularly inspect and clean these areas to prevent the buildup of dust and other pollutants.
Extractor Fans and Attic Vents: In spaces where there is no room for traditional ventilators, mechanical ventilation using exhaust fans can be an effective way to improve air quality and remove stale and foul air. Exhaust fans are mostly used in kitchens and bathrooms because these areas are prone to moisture, which can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, as well as the accumulation of unpleasant odors.
Proper ventilation in these areas is essential for maintaining a healthy living environment, and exhaust fans can help by extracting moisture and odors and preventing them from spreading to other parts of the house. However, as I mentioned earlier, it’s important to ensure that the exhaust fan is properly installed and the right size for the room it’s being used in. It’s also important to ensure that the fan is cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of dust and debris, which can affect its effectiveness.
AC Maintenance: Running air-conditioners and maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures do not necessarily guarantee good indoor air quality. This is because the air filters in air-conditioners can become breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria if not cleaned and replaced regularly.
Over time, the filters in air-conditioners can become clogged with dust, dirt, and other particles, providing a suitable environment for microorganisms to grow and multiply. As a result, the air that is circulated through the air conditioner can become contaminated, which can lead to a variety of health problems.
To prevent this, it is important to clean or replace air filters regularly, at least once a month, or more frequently in areas with high levels of pollution or allergens. This will help prevent the buildup of contaminants and ensure that the air circulated by the air-conditioner is clean and safe to breathe. Additionally, it is a good idea to have the air-conditioning system serviced regularly by a professional to ensure that it is functioning properly and to identify any potential issues before they become a problem.
Indoor Plants: Indoor plants can help increase indoor oxygen levels by absorbing carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and releasing oxygen. This process can improve air quality and provide a natural source of fresh air.
Some common indoor plants known for releasing significant volumes of oxygen include:
- Aloe Vera
- Spider Plant
- Areca Palm
- Tulsi (also known as holy basil)
- Peace Lilies
In addition to producing oxygen, many indoor plants have been shown to have air-purifying properties, as they can remove certain toxins and pollutants from the air. However, it’s important to note that while plants can provide some benefits for air quality, they should not be relied upon as the sole source of air purification. For more serious air quality concerns, it may be necessary to invest in an air purifier or take other measures to improve indoor air quality.
Dry Laundry Outside: Drying clothes outside the rooms in open areas can increase moisture content in closed spaces, leading to condensation and dampness. This is because the water that evaporates from the wet clothes will remain in the air and can contribute to increased humidity levels.
When the humidity level in a closed space increases, it creates a favorable environment for the growth of bacteria and fungi. This can be particularly problematic in areas that are poorly ventilated, such as bathrooms or closets, as the stagnant air can exacerbate the growth of these microorganisms.
To prevent this, it’s best to dry clothes outside in a well-ventilated area, such as a balcony or outdoor clothesline. If you must dry clothes inside, try to do so in a well-ventilated area or with the help of a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture content in the air. Additionally, it’s a good idea to periodically clean and air out closed spaces to prevent the accumulation of moisture and the growth of bacteria and fungus.
Bad ventilation and indoor air pollution can lead to several health problems, such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, allergies, asthma, rashes, and sinusitis. By implementing a few of the above tips, homeowners can greatly improve their lifestyle and well-being. Don’t forget to unmask your home for a healthier and happier life!