According to the 2010 census, 80.7% of Americans live in or around urban areas. That means a lot of cars, a lot of industry, and a lot of pollution. We’re not just talking about dealing with a little smog on your way to work, we mean that, for more of us than ever, the quality of the air within our homes is lacking. As one of Washington’s premier environmental consulting firms, air quality is a big deal for us.

We’re sure it’s just as important for you. The good news is, you don’t have to feel trapped. There are a number of steps you can take that are simple, straightforward, and guaranteed to make an immediate difference in boosting the quality of the air inside your home. Read on for a few helpful tips to let you breathe easier.

  • A common mistake people make is assuming that the standard filters used in furnaces and air conditioning systems will help to remove airborne contaminants. They won’t because they are only designed to protect the equipment from debris and dust. Instead, install HEPA filters. These are excellent for trapping over 99% of allergens, dust, pollen, and smoke. Make sure to swap them out every 3 months, if not more often.
  • Speaking of filters, remember that you’ve got filtration systems all over your home that also need to be changed regularly. These are in clothes dryers, vacuum cleaners, and air purifiers. You also want to get into the habit of regularly cleaning the vents and registers of your air conditioning systems, as well as the vent hood screens in your kitchen.
  • On the one hand, cooking meals at home instead of going out is a great way to eat healthier. However, your stove can emit filthy air if you’re not careful. Make sure to turn the exhaust fan on every time the stove goes on. Also, check the screen regularly to make sure it doesn’t get clogged up by grease, food particles, and other debris.
  • On a beautiful day, you might be tempted to throw open all the windows to air your home out and let some fresh air in. But depending on where you live, your fresh air might not be so fresh. The outside air in urban areas is frequently loaded up with car exhaust, smog, and pollutants from construction and manufacturing. Unless you know for sure your outer air is fairly clean at least, you’re better off leaving the windows closed and breathing filtered air.
  • There’s something wonderful about relaxing in front of a cheery fire in your fireplace. However, leaky fireplace flues can be a source of carbon monoxide, a gas that’s highly dangerous. Take the time to have your fireplace inspected by a professional, and have leaks in the flue repaired as quickly as possible.

All of these tips can be done by spending a minimal amount of money and a minimal amount of effort. What you get in return is an indoor environment that’s cleaner, healthier, and safer for you and your loved ones.