This time of the year when our forced air heaters work overtime, we need to pay particular attention to air quality as it can affect not only your wallet, but also your well-being.
Most homes are constructed in such a way that heating and cooling efficiency relies on airtight conditions. This saves energy and is safer for the house. Unfortunately, because air ducts are so tight, new air gets inside the house at a very slow rate. What this means is that the new air takes a long time to exchange itself with the stale air.
During the winter months, it is a good idea to air out your home once a day to let fresh air in. The best way to do this is get a cross breeze going for about five to ten minutes. During this time, it is best to turn off your thermostat. Once you have your windows and doors closed again wait about ten minutes to turn the thermostat back on.
Sometimes air can build up that is full of indoor pollutants. This is why it is important to introduce fresh air into your home daily. Stale air may cause allergic reactions as the pollutants include irritants such as smoke, plant pollen, pet dander, and even mold spores. Besides being harmful to your health, such irritants also can create damage to your house. Some pollutants can affect electronic equipment such as computers or CD players, while fungi spores can affect furniture, showers, sinks, and appliances.
I recommend a good air duct cleaning from time to time. This should involve the cleaning of all return-air grilles/registers, inside the air ducts and the interior of the heating and ventilating system. It is also a good idea to have the furnace cleaned and serviced periodically. If you have an air conditioning unit, it should likewise be cleaned periodically. Some air duct professionals will also use a disinfectant to run through the air duct system to make sure all the mold, bacteria and dust mites are destroyed.