5 Ways Winter Can Affect Your Indoor Air Quality

Energy Efficiency Spring, TX

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!

Should I Leave the AC on During the Day When I’m Out?

You expect your air conditioner to provide a cool and comfortable environment while you’re relaxing at home with your family. When you’re away from the residence, though, your air conditioner is no longer responsible for your comfort. To save energy, you may think that your best option is to turn your air conditioner completely off when you’re away. This way, it won’t use any electricity while no one is around to enjoy it. To understand if this is the best approach, we at North Point Air Conditioning & Heating present this guide to taking care of your home while you’re out.

More Than Just Comfort

While your air conditioner’s primary function is to keep you and your family comfortable, it serves other purposes as well. This is largely due to how your air conditioner helps maintain your comfort. One way that your air conditioner helps to keep you comfortable is by removing the humidity from the air. Less humid air feels cooler on your skin, thereby lowering the temperature of your home.

Humidity removal is important for more than human comfort, though. Too much humidity can cause wood surfaces in your home to expand, which can lead to sticking doors and windows as well as warped wood furniture. Therefore, even when you’re not home, you need to keep your air conditioner running a minimal amount to be able to keep the humidity levels low.

Program Your Energy Savings

Although it’s a good idea to have your air conditioner turn on at certain points while you’re away, the last thing you want to do is try to maintain the same level of comfort while you’re away as you do when you’re home. In fact, you can set your thermostat as high as 80 to 85 degrees when you’re away from home. This is probably much higher than you’d normally have it when you’re present in your home.

On the flip side, though, you don’t want to come back to an 85-degree home. To help save energy while you’re away and ensure that your home is comfortable when you return, we at North Point Air Conditioning & Heating recommend getting a programmable thermostat. Modern programmable thermostats allow you to schedule the times when your air conditioner will turn on and off throughout the day by selecting what temperature you want your home to be at during specific times.

Most programmable thermostats allow you to select different settings for each day of the week. Therefore, if you have a different schedule each day, you can be sure to maximize the efficiency of your system.

Make It Easy

To make it even easier to keep their homes comfortable, many customers of North Point Air Conditioning & Heating opt for a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats take the capabilities of programmable thermostats a step further by allowing you to control your thermostat from a mobile device anywhere that you have an internet connection. Thus, for example, if you’re away from home and are going to return later than you expected, you can push back the time when your system will turn on so that you save even more energy.

In addition to remote control capabilities, most smart thermostats have proximity sensors to detect when you’re home and when you’re away. Over time, this information allows your smart thermostat to learn your living patterns so that it can keep your system properly programmed without any input from you. This can help account for changes in your schedule that you forget to program into your thermostat.

We Can Help You Save Energy

At North Point Air Conditioning & Heating in Spring, TX, we believe in protecting the environment by helping individual homeowners save energy. That’s why we offer all types of programmable and smart thermostats for you to choose from. Plus, we can help you save even more electricity by keeping your HVAC system in good shape with regular maintenance and repair services. Or, if it’s time for an entirely new HVAC system, we can help you with that, as well.

To take our quest for efficiency even further, we offer insulation installation services to help make your home more energy-efficient. On top of that, we offer a full line of commercial services to help the businesses in our community run as efficiently as possible. If you need help keeping your home comfortable at all times, contact us at North Point Air Conditioning & Heating today.