Aah spring… blooming flowers, freshly cut grass, and new life everywhere. If it weren’t for the fact that spring makes many of us sniffle and sneeze, it might be the perfect time of the year! This change of season brings pollen, grass and other allergens that can give the great outdoors a bad rap. But did you know the average home can have 3-5x more air pollution than the outside air? Here’s how to make sure you can breathe easy everywhere:
USE AN AIR PURIFIER
There’s a lot to consider when choosing an air purifier. The first question to consider is how much space do you want to purify? Are you looking for an air purifier installed alongside your HVAC system to purify the air through your whole home, or a smaller unit fit for one room or an apartment?
Smaller units can also be useful to tackle specific areas with issues like low ventilation or kitchen odours. While whole home units are perhaps best for more wholistic issues, like fighting allergies or asthma.
Your next consideration should be about noise level. For example, the OHair MySpace Purifier was designed for areas up to 800 sq. feet and at 32-38 decibels. That means it hovers between a whisper and the average hum of a fridge while it clears the air of bacteria, viruses, allergens and odours. If you’re running the purifier in a bedroom or office, you'll want to make sure it’s as quiet as possible.
CHECK YOUR HUMIDITY
Alberta is notoriously dry. Not only does this mean we’re a prime location for moisturizer sales, it also means many people rely on humidifiers to even the score. But it’s important to make sure you don’t overdo it. High temperatures mixed with high humidity can make any air issues much worse.
You'll see changes from season to season or room to room, but a healthy home maintains a RH (Relative Humidity) of 30% - 50%. When the weather is below -10°C, you’ll want to keep it closer to 30% to prevent condensation, but you may need to add more humidity if you have static sparks, chapped lips and skin or a scratchy throat.
You know your humidity is getting too high if you experience condensation on windows, moldy or musty smells, and allergy symptoms. If that’s the case, a dehumidifier is important for your health and to avoid the long-term effects of too much moisture in your home.
DON’T FORGET YOUR DUCTS
Cleaning your ducts and furnace regularly will extend the life of your furnace and benefit your health. For most homes, a good clean every 2-3 years is necessary. You might need to adjust that timeline if you share your home with smokers, pets or pollenating plants. It’s also an important step to remove dust and debris after a renovation. If air quality is a concern, cleanings should be conducted annually.
As an added bonus, duct cleaning will help you save energy. Dirt and debris can restrict airflow, causing your system to work harder, and use more energy, than it needs to.
SPRING CLEAN THE BIG-TICKET ITEMS
A little bit of elbow grease will go a long way to combat allergens. When you’re tackling your spring clean this year, make sure to leave the windows open and get maximum air flow to get rid of cleaning product fumes. Add the big-ticket allergy items to your to-do list where contagions can linger: furniture, carpets, area rugs, and mattresses. Portable items like pillows, comforters and other blankets can be sent for washing or dry-cleaning.
There’s a lot to keep track of, and the Rümi App can remind you when it's time to tackle a task, or connect you with professional support.
DON’T LET THE OUTSIDE IN
Keep an eye on your local weather forecast and note pollen count reports. For those allergic to pollen, outdoor activity should be limited to cooler, more humid days. Even if you don’t have allergies, try to keep your windows closed on days with lots of pollen, unless you like your furniture coated with a dusty yellow hue.
If you’re allergic to grass, plan activities like golfing or gardening early in the day when the wind isn’t blowing allergens about and avoid freshly cut lawns. You might want to save yourself the itchy watery eyes altogether and outsource lawn and weed care to a specialist.
During allergy season, keep windows and doors closed, to maintain your home oasis. When you get home, play it safe by keeping outdoor clothing and equipment in a separate room, to avoid tracking it into your living space or closet. You may also want to wash your face and hands and keep nasal sprays or eye drops handy.
Your allergy plan will be that much more effective if you can create a healthy environment to come home to. Lean on these tools and tips for an allergy-free space, and you’ll be able to actually enjoy the joys of spring.