How opening a window can improve the health of your body and the cleanliness of your home...
With the COVID-19 global health crisis on the minds of so many, homeowners everywhere are searching for ways to better bolster their immune systems and protect themselves from harmful pollutants by altering their environments. Increasing ventilation throughout the home is key to maintaining a clean, healthy space because it lowers the concentrations of indoor air pollutants, moderates temperature and humidity, and reduces the chance new harmful agents may develop (mold, mildew, etc.).
Effective cross-ventilation, achieved by generous airflow across a room, also discourages pests like spiders and beetles, which generally choose dark, undisturbed areas to settle. According to the US Energy Department, however, not all airflow is created equal. Natural ventilation through open windows and doors is generally considered superior to forced ventilation. Follow below for three of the most significant benefits of natural ventilation.
Fresh Air Improves Mental Health and Cognition
Natural ventilation improves the mental health, mood, focus, and cognition of residents by replenishing oxygen used up throughout the day. Increased airflow through an open window also removes unpleasant, oppressive smells and moderates extremely high or extremely low humidity, both of which can negatively affect one’s health. A dry indoor climate can contribute to a whole host of health issues; in a low-humidity environment, eyes and other sensitive organs become irritated. Your skin may flake and crack, your eyes may itch, and the mucous membrane of your respiratory tract may become inflamed, making you more susceptible to the flu and other viral infections.
Viruses also survive for longer periods of time in high-humidity climates because they float longer in the air after being expelled from a person’s body (during a sneeze or cough) rather than being weighed down by surrounding moisture present in high-humidity environments. When the %RH outside is a higher, more appropriate level than that in your home, consider opening a window to raise the indoor %RH a bit (somewhere around 60% RH), thereby protecting your health.
Opening a Window is the Most Cost-Effective Option
According to the EPA, “the introduction of outdoor air is one important factor in promoting good air quality.” Encouraging fresh, clean air to enter the home through natural, controllable openings like bay, clerestory, and floor-to-ceiling windows can not only “improve indoor air quality by reducing pollutants,” but can also moderate the temperature during times in which HVAC systems are disabled (brownouts or blackouts) or in places where they are too expensive.
While HVAC systems largely circulate air without purifying it, windows replace the air repeatedly. Though all windows allow for increased airflow throughout the home, Scientific Home Services notes that casement and bay windows are the most effective. Bay windows are ideal because they “can catch breezes from at least two directions,” while casement windows are particularly helpful because they can be opened partially or fully, controlling the amount and direction of airflow.
Outdoor Air is Typically Cleaner than Indoor Air
Indoor air is generally less healthy than outdoor air (unfortunately for remote workers) because it is plagued by “circulating toxins, emissions from household appliances, and allergens from pests and dust mites,” all of which are virtually trapped in a small space. While air conditioners simply circulate air throughout the house, often necessitating the addition of an air purifier to maintain a healthy environment, natural airflow actually sucks out toxins.
As a memo from the Energy Department explains, “when the wind blows against your home, air is forced into your windows on the side facing into the wind, while a natural vacuum effect tends to draw air out of windows on the leeward (downwind) side.” Rather than pushing around stale air the way air condition units do, outdoor air rushes into the room and urges the old air out.
Unfortunately, opening a window or two to increase ventilation is not always a viable option. Your apartment might be located on a busy, high-traffic street rife with exhaust pollutants. Seasonal outdoor weather in your area might be too cold or too hot, necessitating the use of an air conditioner or heater in conjunction with the open window, resulting in an astronomical energy bill each month. Just as likely, your home’s windows might not open wide enough to provide sufficient airflow due to their design or restrictions in your building.
However, with the human population spending 90% of their time indoors, and remote work trends quickly adding to this number, an alternative solution for dry, polluted air is still needed. Thankfully, Respira has considered all these restrictions to clean, comfortable air and has responded by creating the world’s first living air purifier. Join our community as we continue to innovate and reform the way we work, live, and breathe at home.