How can insulating your home prevent air pollution? The concept of air pollution is nothing new, but it has recently seen a revival.
When the lockdown was implemented due to the COVID pandemic, air pollution in cities across the world dropped as much as 40%.
But, most people are unaware of the fact that pollutants from plastic, cleaning supplies, furniture glues, etc., can easily infiltrate your home and compromise the air quality.
Do you ever do something about it? And how can indoor air pollution be prevented really?
Insulating your home can prevent air pollution by reducing the amount of energy needed to heat and cool your home, which can, in turn, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that produce electricity.
Understanding the Concept of Indoor Air Pollution
We can all agree that air pollution is a major problem in our communities, but inside your own house, you might not give it much thought.
Many activities you do to make living easier for you can increase your exposure to pollutants and poisons.
Anything from spraying air fresheners to lighting to home décor can play a role here. And what begins as an issue in your home eventually contributes to collective national emissions.
How can you overcome this issue? Well, you can do it in a number of ways, but most importantly:
- You can do it by being more aware of your exact energy needs.
- You can achieve that by learning to insulate your property better.
The Ill-Effects of Ignoring Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor air quality declines as pollutants and toxins accumulate to unhealthy levels.
Whenever that happens, you may find that the indoor air has an unusual smell. In the worst cases, where indoor air quality is bad, your respiratory health will deteriorate.
Some of the most common issues related to poor indoor air quality are:
- Breathing difficulties
- A worsening of asthma symptoms
A Big Factor Contributing to Indoor Pollution
When you burn something, you generate particulate matter, essentially a byproduct of combustion.
And this holds true for any heat source, from wood and coal fires to candles, electric toasters, and gas stoves.
Maintaining a clean home should help eliminate it over time. However, if you clean it the ‘wrong way,’ you could release dust and other airborne particles that may have already settled on surfaces.
This is a common result of dry dusting or using a subpar vacuum cleaner. To avoid this, it is recommended to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and to wipe down surfaces with a moist cloth after dusting.
Really, maintenance is something that all homeowners should consistently take care of.
This entails becoming familiar with the most frequently encountered issues with the property and taking appropriate action.
And that is where proper insulation comes into the picture.
How Can Insulating Your Home Prevent Air Pollution?
Air pollution is of many types and properly enveloping your property by installing proper insulation can go a long way in preserving indoor air quality.
Adding Barriers Against Pollutants
Simply by insulating drafty areas, you can prevent allergies and pollutants from entering your home.
And in return, you are less likely to develop any health-related problems.
How does insulation help? Well, it does that in different ways. For instance:
- It acts as a barrier to keep dust and airborne pollutants out of your home.
- It ensures that the indoor air stays inside to maintain temperatures better.
Fact: Insulating 4 million homes will remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as planting 667 million acres of trees.
Putting the HVAC System to Work
Insulating your home helps because it blocks the entry of outdoor air from all other routes except for your HVAC system.
The good thing is that these systems now use special filters, which can clean and help regulate indoor air quality. This way, you can keep almost all common contaminants out of your home.
Improving Indoor Heating
One of the biggest factors affecting indoor air quality is how much energy you use to heat up your home.
Sometimes, simply upgrading to a better, more efficient boiler can lower air pollution, but insulating the property is still vital.
When insulation is done right, it reduces how much energy is used to heat or cool your property, which in turn helps to preserve finite fossil fuel reserves.
An Important Consideration
In most cases, installing code-compliant levels of fiberglass insulation or slag wool insulation in a single-family home is the best way to go.
Such type of insulation can help save up to 100 times the energy required to make those products in a 20-year time.
Lowering Greenhouse Gas Emissions
If you are concerned about pollution in general, you need to educate yourself about greenhouse gas emissions. The truth is that the environmental and health implications of greenhouse gases are widespread.
In addition to contributing to respiratory illness, they accelerate global warming and increase the frequency and severity of natural disasters.
You contribute to that by burning propane, natural gas and fuel oil to heat and cool your property.
You are obviously going to run those appliances less if you insulate your home in the right way.
Fact: Greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for hurricanes and tornadoes, as well as food shortages and forest fires.
Tips to Prevent Indoor Air Pollution
The health effects of poor indoor air quality are well-documented. At the very least, it can trigger allergies and sinus infections, but things can worsen in no time.
Thankfully, you can improve the quality of the air inside your home by taking some simple measures.
Strategically Open Your Windows
Yes, insulation is important but being a bit strategic about opening windows can also help remove pollutants from indoor air. Doing it in the winter may prove more beneficial.
But timing when you let in fresh air through your open windows is crucial. In many circumstances, letting in some fresh air by opening a window might have the opposite effect and reduce the quality of the air within.
That is especially true if you live near a major thoroughfare. In that case, keeping your windows closed, especially during rush hour makes more sense.
Make Use of Your Extractor Fans
When you cook something, you end up dispersing smoke, oil, steam, and odors into the air.
To tackle it well, do not forget to turn on the exhaust fans before, during, and after cooking.
While their noise may be bothersome, using them can help clean the air of evaporated oil and other components.
This will also go a long way in protecting walls and cupboards in your kitchen.
Fact: Install extractor fans in other rooms as well because they can eliminate any lingering odors left behind by household cleaners and personal care items.
Invest in a Cooker Hood
Choose an extracting cooking hood (also known as a ducted hood) over a recirculating hood if at all possible.
Why are recirculating hoods better? That is mainly because:
- They do much more than venting air outside the house
- They clean the air in your home and deliver it back to the kitchen.
- They work efficiently to remove pollutants because of a carbon filter.
They are certainly well worth the investment but remember to clean or replace the filter in your recirculating hood on a regular basis.
Make an Effort to Control Dust in Your Home
Something that is just as important as insulating your home is keeping it clean. Just do anything you can to keep your property free of dust and your indoor air quality will get better for sure.
You can always begin by making some house rules, like not wearing shoes indoors or cleaning non-washable items outside.
But you have to take other steps, especially to limit the amount of smoke in your home. It often means you should not smoke cigarettes in your home.
An Important Consideration
Sometimes, you think of redecorating your house with paint to make it look cleaner.
It definitely helps but remember that it releases gasses and fumes, which can be quite toxic.
Therefore, if you want to re-paint, consider investing in “low-VOC” paints and polishes to get better results.
Fact: Easily dispersed into the air, secondhand smoke includes over 4,000 compounds that are harmful to humans and can quickly degrade indoor air quality.
How can insulating your home prevent air pollution?
Insulating your home helps because it prevents allergens, dust, and pollution from factories, vehicles, and other sources from seeping through crevices and openings.
But besides insulating your home, you can also take many other steps that would improve indoor air quality and minimizes your impact on air pollution in general.