Your home is where you likely spend most of your time. Understanding this reality, you want to make certain that the environment in and around your residence is as healthy as possible. Here are four items to include on your healthy home checklist.
Low or Zero VOC Interior Paint
Paint and paint related products present significant, and largely ignored, dangers to people in their homes. You undoubtedly have heard of the dangers associated with lead paint. Although lead paint is no longer legal in the United States (and hasn’t been for some time), there are older properties that still have lead paint on their walls that needs to be safely and properly eliminated.
What you need to be more focused on in this day and age is the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contained in most paint. VOCs are technically defined as carbon-containing compounds that easily vaporize into the air. When these elements are released, they interact with other elements naturally in the air and can cause an array of health issues. These include respiratory problems, headaches, and nausea. Some VOCs are also linked to liver and kidney damage as well as cancer.
When paint dries, dangerous VOCs are released at high levels into the air and are at their highest directly after painting—and can be up to 1,000 times higher than normal levels immediately after the interior painting of a residence. However, VOCs will continue to seep into the air for several years after the completion of a painting project. This long-term off-gassing process of VOCs can be particularly harmful to humans.
Today, a key to a healthier home is to ditch paint that contains high levels of VOC. There are plenty of low-VOC and no-VOC rated paints available on the market at prices competitive to standard paints, so there’s no reason not to use them.
You can even find mineral paints which are designed to be naturally safe and healthy. These paints work exceedingly well in many applications.
Smart Bath Fan Timers
Many people don’t take advantage of their bath fans, including during and after bathing and showering. Research reveals that a bath fan should be switched on for at least 20 minutes after the conclusion of a shower. Even better, switch the fan on before you turn on the shower to begin the process of exhausting humid air from the home.
Depending on the size of your bathroom, the ambient humidity in the home, and with humid weather outside, you may find you need to set a timer for up to 60 minutes to ensure the moist air is fully evacuated. If you find your bathroom mirror still fogs up while you shower, that’s a good sign you may need to increase the length of time your fan runs. Some newer fans may also have a speed adjustment dial, so you can dial them up to extract more air and reduce the time needed to operate.
The failure to properly utilize a bathroom fan while showering can increase the risk of dangerous, long term mold accumulation in your bath. A mold buildup situation can expose the occupants in your home to the prospect of enduring respiratory issues and other health problems.
Many people drink filtered water, yet few people take water filtration to the whole house level, which can be an important step in enhancing the overall health posture of your residence.
The reality is that a whole house water filtration system ensures that the healthiest possible water is used for all purposes in a home, including cooking, drinking, and bathing. These systems remove all types of harmful substances that can exist in municipal water, including high levels of chlorine in some situations.
The whole house systems may use a combination of replaceable sediment, charcoal, and other types of filters to ensure the delivery of healthy water throughout your home. Many systems also offer ultraviolet light options for eliminating tiny microorganisms in the water, as well as options for water softening.
As an aside, a whole house water filtration system can also protect you and your family should there be some sort of breakdown or malfunction in a community’s water treatment and sanitation system.
Mechanical Fresh Air Intake System
A mechanical fresh air intake system in your home is another key way in which you can make your home a healthier place. By bringing a constant supply of outside air into your residence, the air system replaces the polluted or stale air in your home with freshened air.
These systems are typically integrated with the home’s HVAC, so the fresh air is cleansed by the system’s filtration setup prior to coming into the house through the normal heating and cooling vents. Typically, the system is set by an electronic controller to operate for approximately 15 minutes every hour, though more or less time may be appropriate for your home.
The activities of daily living can and do result in high levels of air pollutants inside your home. The stark reality is that the air inside your residence could be more polluted or contaminated than the outside air, even if you live in a crowded urban area known for its outside pollution. Activities such as frying food, the use of cleaning products, and burning candles can result in serious and even harmful air pollution inside your residence.
Most new homes will have these mechanical fresh air intake systems pre-installed, as they are mandated by many municipal building codes. In the case of an existing older home, you should discuss the potential of adding such a system with a local HVAC professional.
Not ready for a mechanical fresh air system yet? Then you may want to monitor the air in your home with a smart air quality monitor.
Onward to Your Healthy Home
By including these items on your healthy home checklist, you will have taken an important step forward to improving the overall healthiness of your home, both today and into the future.