Plummeting temperatures have a surprising effect on indoor air. Temperature changes in Spring, Texas alter the way in which outdoor air moves. As warm air rises, cold air and the ozone and smog that it carries surrounds your home. Unfortunately, many of these contaminants eventually find their way in. There are also several changes in resident behaviors and activities that contribute to higher concentrations of indoor pollutants. Read on to discover five ways in which winter can affect your indoor air quality (IAQ).
1. Increased Carbon Monoxide
Just as trapped cold air brings airborne pollutants closer to your home, how you use your vehicle likely does much the same. During winter, many locals turn their cars on and let them idle until they’re “warmed up.” Whether you do this in your driveway or in an open garage, the carbon monoxide (CO) that your vehicle releases is downright toxic. If you have an older, gas-powered auto that must be warmed up in the morning, move your vehicle away from the house and warm it up at the curb.
2. Everything Is Sealed up Tight in Winter
The cost of keeping your home warm in winter is likely a constant concern. In an effort to save cash, most homeowners are diligent about keeping their windows and doors sealed. Many people also add insulation and weatherstripping to their homes, and they use caulking and other materials to seal up noticeable air leaks. Although these measures improve the efficiency of homes, creating a tight home envelope or a tightly sealed living environment doesn’t always bode well for IAQ.
Having a tight home envelope in winter often means that all of the contaminants in your home will stay right where they are. This is especially problematic if exhaust from vehicles, secondhand smoke, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from off-gassing building materials and cleaning products are present in especially high concentrations. In summer and spring, opening windows and doors allows fresh, clean air to flow through the building. In winter, it’s often necessary to have a special plan for improving ventilation and clearing contaminants out.
3. Candles, Fireplaces, and Cooking
Winter is when most people are wont to prepare hot, hearty meals for their loved ones. Although cooking at home can provide impressive health benefits, it’s not necessarily better for your indoor air quality. If you have a gas stove, not all of the exhaust from this unit is being routed outside. Moreover, raising the temperatures of fats and oils can cause them to release airborne contaminants that are too small to be picked up by your HVAC air filter. This is also true of the airborne contaminants that are released by scented candles and real wood fires in fireplaces.
4. Cleaning and Disinfecting Agents
Unfortunately, winter is also the time when people have the highest likelihood of catching communicable illnesses such as the flu and the common cold. Using disinfecting sprays, cleaning solutions, and room freshening sprays in an airtight environment can wreak havoc on your respiratory health. This is all the more true when special measures for ventilating the living space or purifying the indoor air don’t exist.
5. Increases in Humidity Set the Stage for Mold Growth
People tend to spend more of their time indoors during the cold season. In winter, you may notice condensation forming on your windows and walls, especially if you have a large, bustling household. Homes that have lots of residents can be overly humid due to lots of long, steamy showers and baths, regular cooking projects, and other moisture-producing activities. Even though your HVAC system can play a hand in regulating indoor humidity, it’s probably not sufficient on its own for offsetting the moisture that building residents are constantly creating.
Having excess moisture in your home will make indoor air feel muggy and heavy. However, in addition to diminishing resident comfort, excess humidity can also set the stage for mold development. With plenty of warm, wet surfaces to adhere to, mold, mildew, bacteria, and other pathogens can flourish.
Fortunately, winter doesn’t have to leave you and other building residents sniffling, sneezing, coughing, or dealing with itchy, watery eyes. With the right integrated HVAC accessories for your home, you can enjoy clean, fresh-smelling indoor air year-round.
We offer an impressive range of advanced indoor air quality solutions. Whether you need an air scrubber, air purifier, or whole-house dehumidifier for protecting the IAQ in your Spring, Texas home, we’ve got you covered. We also offer comprehensive heating and cooling services, insulation, mini-splits, and smart thermostats. To schedule an appointment, give North Point Air Conditioning & Heating a call today!