What to Know About Improving Your Indoor Air Quality in Winter

Women smiling indoors with her daughter

It’s that time of year when the weather gets cold, and we all spend a lot more time inside. However, this also means we have to shift focus from our outdoor air quality to indoor air quality.

According to WHO, 4% of global deaths are related to indoor air pollution. Since certain groups spend more time inside, indoor air pollution is especially harmful for the elderly, infants, and people with lung and heart diseases. Air quality in winter is also worse than it is in summer.

Today, we’re exploring why winter adversely affects the air in our homes and how to improve indoor air quality during colder months.

Why Does Indoor Air Quality Change in Winter?

First, we tend to close their windows in colder temperatures to keep the heat indoors. However, this means you get less ventilation inside and that causes air pollutants to build up inside of your home.

Another problem is the humidity levels. Since the winter air is drier, you might choose to install a humidifier to improve the comfort level inside. Unfortunately, this can lead to issues where we humidify the air inside too much and that promotes mold growth.

Finally, the last contributing factor to poor air quality in winter is heating sources. Burning wood or paper in your fireplace, for example, emits carbon dioxide and particulate matter in your home. Gas-run heaters can also give off poisonous carbon monoxide.

Other indoor pollutant sources are smoking, dust, cooking, attached garage, and fragrances of household cleaning supplies.

Altogether, these indoor air pollutants can cause a range of health problems. Some common symptoms include the following:

  • Eye, nose, and skin irritation
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Allergies
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

4 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality This Winter

Promoting ventilation is the best way to improve indoor air quality in winter. Stagnant air in a room confines the pollutants inside. The more often the air changes per hour, the better the room’s atmosphere since it has more fresh air.

But that’s easier said than done during winter.

Here are 4 tips for improving air quality within your home and office this winter.

Tip #1 - Install Mechanical Installation System

When opening windows for fresh air is impossible due to the cold, building managers should consider installing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. With an HVAC system in place, you can better prevent poor indoor air quality and reduce your heating bill.

If you’re a homeowner, you can also use portable air filtration devices. You may consider the ones with a HEPA filter that can remove ultrafine particulate matter like PM2.5, as well as pathogens like viruses and bacteria.

Tip #2 - Keep A Check on Heat Sources

Wood stoves and fireplaces are often attractive heat sources since they don’t increase the electricity bill. However, burning wood can produce several pollutants, including particulate matter, carbon monoxide gas, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).

A few ways to minimize the effects of wood smoke indoors by:

  • Cleaning your fireplace and chimneys often
  • Installing a low-emission wood fireplace
  • Using a gas fireplace instead of a traditional one
  • Conserving heat indoors so you burn less wood

Tip #3 - Avoid Under or Over Humidification

Use your humidifiers wisely. A moderate humidity level above 30% and below 59% is ideal for an indoor environment. Low humidity can cause respiratory distress, while high humidity levels are related to mold buildup.

Tip #4 - Use Indoor Air Quality Monitors

Constant indoor air quality testing is essential for regulating the air in homes and buildings. That way, you can measure the levels of dangerous air pollutants and see as they change. With the PurpleAir Map, for instance, you can also monitor your air quality in real time.

By detecting and taking timely action against these health hazards, you can make decisions to safely maintain a healthy indoor atmosphere.

How to Measure Indoor Air Quality?

When it comes to air quality, the best way to track it is with high-precision air quality monitors. 

Monitor the Particulate Matter levels around the world with our free, real-time PurpleAir Map or join PurpleAir's mission to make air quality data accessible to everyone by investing in an air quality monitor for your home. 

Together, we can be informed and make changes in our daily habits and the community to improve air quality.