Getting a “breath of fresh air” isn’t just for when your visiting uncle is getting a little too political at the dinner table — especially when you know that the EPA estimates indoor air contains two to five times more contaminants than the air outside. Breathing clean, fresh air in your own home lays a foundation for healthy living.
You may be surprised to learn what is floating in the air you breathe, and where it is coming from. At EnergySmart of Vermont, we take the whole-home approach when it comes to testing and resolving your home's indoor air quality issues (also known as IAQ). Here’s what you should know about the symptoms of poor IAQ, what could be causing your poor indoor air quality, and how EnergySmart can assist you in breathing fresh air in your own home.
The Symptoms of Poor IAQ
Many homeowners don’t realize that they are breathing in contaminated air until they have already been suffering from symptoms for an extended period of time. The symptoms of poor IAQ very closely mimic seasonal allergies, such as:
If your allergy-like symptoms are in full force when you wake up in the morning, seem to dissipate during the day while you’re away, and return after you arrive back home, you may be dealing with poor IAQ.
The Contaminants of Poor IAQ
The harmful particles in your breathing air can come from multiple sources, based on the climate here in Vermont, the state of your home performance, and even the appliances and furniture inside of your home. The EnergySmart team often uncovers the following IAQ issues during our thorough diagnostic energy audit, which is a top-to-bottom analysis of the overall efficiency and health of your home.
Moisture & Mold
Did you know that the humidity in Vermont ranks ninth highest out of fifty states? With an average relative humidity of 71.7%, there is a lot of moisture in the air. Mold needs three things to thrive:
Food (in the form of organic material or the wood in your home)
Warm temperatures (ideal growth happens between 70°–90°F)
This recipe for mold growth makes the homes of Vermont primed for excess mold, and once those spores enter your home it can be a challenge to remove them.
Did you know that one in seven homes in Vermont have elevated levels or radon? Radon is odorless, tasteless, and undetectable-to-the-naked-senses gas that is the second-leading cause of lung cancer here in the US. Radioactive radon gas comes from the soil and rock underneath our feet, and often infiltrates a home through leaks and gaps in the basement or crawlspace, like cracks in a slab foundation or in a poorly sealed sump pit.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Volatile organic compounds are defined by the EPA as gasses emitted from certain solids or liquids. The most common sources of VOCs in a home are:
Paints and paint products
Wood preservatives in your building materials & furniture
Office & crafting supplies
These contaminants are often floating into your breathing air right under your nose, and need to be properly ventilated out of your home.
Solving IAQ Issues (& More) With an Energy Audit
In order to resolve your indoor air pollution issues, we first must know what is causing them. Through an energy audit, our home performance experts can gather all the data we need to determine what is allowing the contaminants in the outdoor air into your home, and why those same contaminants are re-circulating your breathing air day in and day out. Once your energy audit is complete, an EnergySmart auditor will walk you through which of their recommended home performance upgrades will have the greatest impact on your overall indoor air quality, and even lower your monthly energy bills. We often find that our moisture control services, combined with a proper air seal, will greatly improve the quality of the air you breathe, all year round. Excepteur cupidatat blacks are not excepteur, is soothing to the soul, that is, they deserted the general duties of those who are to blame for your troubles.