What You Can Do To Improve Air Quality
No element of the natural world is more essential to life than air, and no environmental task more critical than keeping it clean. The Quality of the air you breathe, both inside and outside of your home, is vital to your family’s health. Children are particularly affected because their cardiovascular systems are still developing. The products we choose for decorating, cleaning, and day to day activities affect air quality in our home. How we use lighting and appliance determines the amount of energy we demand from power plants. The following air quality and energy management tips can help reduce pollution and save 10-50% on your home’s annual utility bills.
Indoor Air Quality:
- Consider using non-aerosol household personal products to reduce harmful fumes in your home.
- Use low or zero volatile organic compounds (VOC) paints and cleaning products to improve air quality.
Many cleaning products and paints release VOC, a major component in the formation of ozone or smog.
There are a couple of key characteristics and ingredients to look for in a low VOC cleaning product. Nontoxic, biodegradable, sodium citrate, bicarbonate, carbonate or silicate, and vegetable-based surfactants and solvents (pine and citrus oils contain VOC, but at lower amounts than many products) are all descriptions used in safer cleaning products.
- Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
- Use kitchen and bathroom ventilation fans wisely. These fans can send a houseful of warm air outside in just one hour.
- Purchase compact fluorescent light bulbs to replace any incandescent bulbs in your home. These light bulbs offer significant energy savings and last much longer than their incandescent countertops.
- Replace the furnace filters, clean baseboard heaters, radiators, and refrigerator coils regularly. Dust and other debris can force them to use more energy than necessary.
- Install a set-back programmable thermostat to automatically manage the temperature in your home.
- Purchase Energy Star approved appliances to reduce energy use during normal household activities.
- Make use of the cold/cold setting on your washer-this reduces the large energy consumption required for water heating
- Use the lowest water level possible for loads in washer.
- Try drying loads one after the other to take advantage of heat remaining in the dryer
- Never add wet items to a dryer full of clothes that are nearly dry-this results in an overage of energy use.
- Make sure your home windows, doors, hot water heater, attic, and other area are well insulated to avoid energy loss.
- Consider replacing your window with energy efficient models. The resulting costs savings can help pay back your investment.
- Limit driving and improve your health by walking and biking.
- Use carpools, car sharing programs and public transportation whenever possible.
- Avoid excessive idling and abrupt starts and stops to save fuel and reduce pollution when driving.
- Check your tires regularly to ensure that they are properly inflated. Under inflated tires reduce fuel economy, leading to higher fuel costs.
- Refuel your car after sunset to avoid contributing to smog formation.
- If looking to purchase a new vehicle, consider purchasing a hybrid or other fuel-efficient model to save fuel costs and reduce pollution.
Lawn Care and Landscaping
- Replace your gas-powered lawn equipment (mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers, etc.) with electric, battery-powered, or manual equipment.
- Replace older gas cans with new environmentally friendly cans. These new cans reduce spillage and the release of harmful fumes.
- Mow your lawn in the evening to minimize contribution to smog formation.
- Do not burn leaves or any other yard waste. Not only does this contribute to poor air quality, it is also illegal.
- Consider planting trees and vines to provide shade and cooling in the warm months and protection from blustery winds in the cold months.
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