May 25, 2017

Photo: NASA.gov

According to a recent Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report, Americans spend approximately 70% of their time in their home. So, it is best to ensure that your indoors is healthy for you and your family. Here are some low-cost ways to start making your home healthy, and your indoor air quality better, right now!

  1. Vacuum. Vacuuming helps reduce the likelihood for poor indoor air quality. Try vacuuming high-traffic areas at least once per week and other spaces every other week. And, don’t forget the important step of cleaning out your vacuum. Otherwise, you leave the dust inside your home.

  2. Go Plantastic! Plants are the earth’s natural air purifiers. Unlike machine air purifiers, plants require no energy and have no energy costs. At a low price (less than $20), you can make your living spaces healthier and more inviting. Try adding 2-3 air filtering plants to your living spaces and bedrooms. Ferns, palms, peace lilies, and corn plants are all good choices for improving your indoor air quality naturally. Then, all you need to do is keep your plants watered weekly or follow the plant’s instructions.

  3. Humidify. How’s your humidity level in your bedroom and living rooms? If it’s often feeling dry,
    consider adding a room humidifier. Keep in mind that you may not want to run them all year. I’m from southeastern Virginia where the humidity level is described as “muggy, oppressive, or miserable” for much of the year, so, for southerners, it may not be helpful to add more humidity (the upside: your skin’s looking great!). In the BPI offices in Malta, NY, we have quite low humidity. This winter, it was contributing to BPI staff feeling like we had very dry skin and dry throats. We installed eight small humidifiers across our office to bring some moisture back into the space. We bought them online for about $40 each. It was a simple fix and we’re all feeling a bit healthier. Try adding a humidifier to your bedroom or living space. Again, you’ll want to ensure you keep it clean to prevent recycling impurities in the water.

  4. Use a Humidity Monitor. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what your living spaces need in terms of humidity. Humidity monitors are inexpensive and let you know where you stand with your humidity levels. At home, I have a humidity and temperature reader in my small, but open, living area (kitchen/dining/living room). I use the humidity monitor to decide whether to run my humidifier and at what setting (low, medium, or high). My monitor cost me $10, is attached to a magnet, and takes up 4 inches of space in my house; I use it daily.

  5. You get out of here: De-clutter! Obviously, de-cluttering is not most people’s favorite activity. Though I’ve been trying to help my Mom, and nagging her for literally 7 years, she just finally started going through her attic stocked with our family’s 38 years’ worth of stuff. (And, I know many of you may be in the same boat!). The time is now, folks. Even if you’ve only lived in your house for a couple years, the extra stuff in your home is taking up space and acquiring dust, which you then breathe in daily. Turn on a podcast or your favorite TV show and start going through the piles of paper, tchotchkes, and the boxes in your attics and closets. By the way, if you have lots of paper or cardboard boxes, you’re not just taking up space, you’re attracting roaches, booklice, termites, and moths – all of which eat cardboard. Get it out of there!

To go a step further, consider hiring a BPI Healthy Home Evaluator (HHE). HHEs identify and provide recommendations for asthma triggers and risk of lead poisoning, and also test for carbon monoxide and other health and safety hazards. Click here to find an HHE.

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Hannah C. Wood

Hannah C. Wood joined the Building Performance Institute, Inc. as the Marketing and Communications Director in July 2016. Hannah has experienced winter in 4 northern countries. She likes all aspects of homemaking from yard work (seriously!) to insulation. She's committed to keeping people comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient at home.