Indoor environment: How to improve your IEQ
While we take great care when we are outdoors these days, do we really pay attention to maintaining a healthy environment indoors, too? Ask yourself - How healthy is your house? After spending more time at home due to quarantine and social distancing, many homeowners are now asking themselves this question.
This has inspired an increase in home improvements that go beyond aesthetic enhancements. Homeowners want eco-friendly upgrades that improve indoor environmental quality (IEQ), which means improvements that support the health and wellness of the people who live in the home.
Consider these four aspects:
1. Hydronic radiant heating systems
During extreme winter, for a healthier home, consider hydronic radiant heating. This technology works by warming water at a heat source and circulating it through piping made of a special polymer called PEX that is installed beneath the floor. A hydronic radiant system can dramatically improve a home's IEQ. There is no fan to circulate dust, pollen and odors, so you can breathe easier. Because it's in the floor, it keeps the heat low - where you and your family actually live - without hot and cold spots.
2. Natural light and daylighting
Beautiful sun shining through a window is a welcome sight on any day. Natural light increases the comfort of a home and can have a positive psychological impact on the people who spend time there. That's why, when choosing home-improvement projects, use daylighting strategies to improve IEQ.
Daylighting is a method you can use to welcome more natural light into your home. There are many improvements that support daylighting. Adding windows strategically to brighten spaces throughout the day is a smart first step. Adding skylights to bring in light where traditional windows are not possible or logical, such as in a bathroom, also supports daylighting.
Daylighting can be controlled for comfort and privacy with shades, blinds and plants. In spaces where windows and skylights are not possible, adding reflective surfaces to the room design can provide internal lighting by maximising the sunlight.
3. Clean air and proper ventilation
Airflow is an important part of any healthy home, helping to remove contaminants and bring in fresh air. Proper ventilation prevents mold and mildew growth, removes common pollutants from appliances and other household items, improves indoor air quality and boosts IEQ.
To improve your home's ventilation, always open windows and skylights when weather and conditions allow to let in fresh air. Remember to turn on ventilation fans when bathing or showering to remove excess humidity. In addition, use fans in the kitchen to remove smoke and heat while cooking. Finally, maintain filters on items such as air purifiers, humidifiers and your HVAC system.
4. Air out new furniture
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that linger in the air, and they are everywhere in our homes. VOCs such as tolulene and benzene are found in things like glues, paints, fabrics, construction materials and more. When you buy a new sofa or armchair, know this: It will emit VOCs, more heavily at first and then taper off. To reduce the harm to your indoor air, air out as much as possible to allow VOCs to escape. If you can, keep it in your garage for a week, or at least keep the windows in that room open most of the day for the first few months.