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5 Eco-Friendly Upgrades to Ensure Clean Air at Home

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Pause. Take a deep breath. Now exhale. Notice anything? We are often more cognizant of air pollution encountered while walking through a city than we are of the pollution in our homes, despite it being where we spend the most time. Did you know that everything from our home’s ventilation system to our cleaning products and furniture can impact the quality of the air in our homes? Here are five tips to ensure your family is breathing in the cleanest air possible while at home.

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Horizontal photo of female hand opening up heater floor vent with Red Oak Floors in background
Getty Images

Air Flow and Filtration

The number one way to ensure your family is breathing in clean, quality air is by reevaluating your home’s heating, cooling and ventilation systems. This includes furnaces, air conditioners and air treatment products that help improve the air quality in your home. With the guidance of their qualified HVAC experts, Enercare will factor in all aspects of your home before making a recommendation, keeping your household’s health as the top priority.

A high-efficiency heat pump is an excellent option that helps balance humidity levels and provides both heating and cooling for overall better home comfort, plus you’ll be making the environmentally-responsible choice that reduces carbon emissions. To ensure adequate fresh air is delivered to every room of your home, consider installing a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV). Enercare also offers HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, which remove more than 99.9 per cent of particles that are 0.3 microns in size thus removing airborne particles such as dust, pollen, mold and bacteria and helping ensure you are breathing in indoor air that’s free of impurities and irritants. If you’re unsure whether your current system is working to promote the healthiest environment in your home, consider calling the experts at Enercare for a free home comfort assessment.

A high-efficiency heat pump being installed at someone's home
Darren Goldstein

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Non-Toxic Furniture

If you get a whiff of that familiar “new car smell” in your home, it signals more than just an unpleasant odour — it indicates the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home’s air.  Concentrations of many VOCs are up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors, with common sources being paints, cleaning products, wood preservatives and most notably, furniture. When we have new items in our home, from carpets to sofas, there is a period of off-gassing – when you can smell the chemicals embedded within the materials being released as a vapor into the air. During this period, proper ventilation is very important. When shopping for new furniture, look for major third-party certifications such as OEKO-TEX, Greenguard, and GOTS. You can find Greenguard Certified furniture, which has undergone testing for over 10,000 VOCs, at Canadian retailers such as Crate & Barrel, West Elm and Pottery Barn. Avoiding materials such as vinyl (often used in faux-leather furnishings) and opting for pre-owned furniture are other effective ways to minimize your exposure to VOCs.

 

A picture of a living room with a large couch and black coffee table
Darren Goldstein

Cleaning Tools and Schedule

Have you been coughing or sneezing at home lately? There’s a good chance the upholstery in your home is impacting your air quality. Upholstery and fabric often become culprits for collecting dust and dander, providing the perfect breeding ground for dust mites. It’s best to do a quick search of these tiny microscopic bugs that live on mattresses and bedding for up to 90 days. Everything from carpets and drapes to bedding and upholstered furniture needs to be cleaned regularly to prevent this biological pollution from drifting through the air undetected. Along with washing bedding weekly, you should regularly clean all fabrics with warm to hot water, especially if you have pets. We recommend investing in an upholstery cleaner — you’d be amazed at the colour of the water after cleaning just a small, seemingly clean, area of your sofa.

Related: We Tried the Bissell Little Green and Here’s Our Honest Opinion

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A living room with DIY shelves behind the couch with plants of them
Darren Goldstein

Potted Plants

Although the findings of NASA’s Clean-Air Study are often misinterpreted, incorporating more potted plants throughout your home is still beneficial for air quality and can help purify the air. Indoor plants help reduce carbon dioxide levels and increase humidity, which is beneficial when it comes to air quality. Plus, in addition to supporting your respiratory immune system, maintaining humidity levels between 30-60 per cent helps prevent the spread of airborne microbes and pollutants. Popular choices for their ease of care and purifying properties include the Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) and Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum). However, if you have furry friends at home, you’ll want to consider non-toxic options like the Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata). It is important to note that indoor plants should be incorporated in addition to, not as a substitute for, proper air ventilation systems.

Related: 20 Plants That Will Improve the Air Quality in Your Home

Two glass bottles sitting next to each other on a counter with DIY cleaners in them
Pexels

Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

Maintaining a clean home is an effective way to ensure healthy indoor air quality — unless you’re using the wrong products. Unfortunately, many of the chemically-formulated cleaning products found on shelves today actually increase air pollutants in your home. If you’re using multiple cleaning products in an area of your home at once, your risk of being exposed to harmful byproducts increases as certain chemicals may react with others. To avoid VOCs, greenhouse gases and other toxic air contaminants, opt for natural cleaning products instead. With more eco-friendly cleaning products on the market than ever before, making the switch is seamless. Remember, “clean” doesn’t need to have a scent.

Related: 10 Things You Need to Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

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