Cold and flu season is upon us here in Barre and Washington County, and we’re doing everything we can to stay healthy—perhaps more so this year than ever before. As you stock up on hand sanitizer and keep your distance from other people, however, you should also take a look at your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ). Poor indoor air quality can make you feel sick with symptoms similar to those caused by the flu or a winter cold, making it difficult to determine whether you’re actually coming down with something or your air quality is to blame.
Symptoms of Poor Indoor Air Quality
There are a number of factors that can cause poor indoor air quality, from dust mites and pet dander to more serious issues, like mold growth and radon infiltration—a surprisingly common problem here in Vermont. Pollutants, indoor allergens, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home’s air can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat, resulting in symptoms similar to those caused by a cold or the flu, such as:
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if they seem to worsen when you’re at home and improve when you’re not, you may be dealing with poor IAQ and indoor pollution. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to improve your indoor air quality so that you can enjoy a healthy home, and EnergySmart of Vermont can help.
How Can I Improve My Home’s IAQ?
Before you can improve your home’s IAQ, you need to know where the contaminants in your air are coming from. And while many contaminants originate within your home, like VOCs from cleaning supplies, others find their way in from the outside world. Because of this, it’s best to take a whole-home approach when it comes to indoor air quality testing. At EnergySmart of Vermont, we conduct comprehensive energy audits and can provide a breakdown of your home’s overall health and performance. An energy audit will show us where your home is vulnerable to outside air infiltration and why contaminated air is circulating. Once we know what’s causing your indoor air quality problems, we can recommend a tailored solution, such as:
Moisture build-up can lead to wood rot and mold growth, both of which can contribute heavily to poor IAQ, so it’s crucial to address any places where moisture is getting into your home. Your energy audit will show us where excess moisture is coming from so that we can stop it at the source. Some of the most common solutions we recommend for moisture control include:
Installing a membrane in your basement or crawl space to stop moisture from seeping inside
Upgrading your insulation to prevent winter humidity from meeting a cold surface and condensing into water
Replacing your bathroom or kitchen fan with an upgraded two-speed model to reduce home humidity
Home Air Sealing
Small gaps and cracks can easily form in your home, especially in its attic and basement. These open spaces allow outside air to get inside—and bring contaminants with them. Air sealing works by locating and filling in all of these gaps and cracks to stop outside air from penetrating your home. In addition to helping improve IAQ, air sealing techniques have the added bonus of stopping air leakage and improving your home’s energy efficiency, which can help you save on energy costs.