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Are you living with one of the EPA’s list of top five environmental threats to public health?
Are you sick of that musty smell wafting up from your basement - or sick because of it? Indoor pollution levels are typically two to five times higher than those outside, and even if you’re adamant about maintaining a tidy, smoke-free home, moisture problems, poor ventilation, and contaminants can increase your risk of health problems from allergies and asthma to headaches, nausea, and worse. It’s no wonder that indoor air quality makes the EPA’s list of Top Five Environmental Threats to public health.
Indoor air quality was also the focus of Ellen Tohn's presentation at the Affordable Comfort, Inc. New England Home Performance Conference. "Weatherization and Home Performance will touch at least a million homes in the next decade," said Tohn. Integrating healthy home features into energy upgrades provides "the opportunity to make a huge difference for public health.
The EPA agrees: “Integrated healthy home and energy efficiency upgrade activities can simultaneously lower utility costs and improve indoor air quality.” Here’s how:
Keep pollutants out
In your living space, this means banning secondhand smoke and chemical-laden household cleaners, vacuuming and dusting regularly to eliminate pet dander and dust mites, and using carbon monoxide detectors to signal the presence of the poisonous gas.
Stop mold and mildew at their source
Damp, smelly basements are a breeding ground for mold and mildew. If you’re tempted to close the basement door and try to forget about the petri dish beneath your feet, consider this: you inhale almost 3000 gallons of air every day, and, thanks to the stack effect, most of the air in your home has passed through your basement. Whether the door is closed or not, your indoor air quality depends on having a dry, clean basement. Basement encapsulation transforms damp, leaky basements into dry, healthy spaces - and research shows that moisture remediation lowers the risk of asthma by 33%.
Your home depends on a slow, steady flow of air. The best way to ensure that a home is healthy, safe, and energy efficient is to pair air sealing with increased mechanical ventilation to make sure that air cycles in and out of the house at a healthy and consistent rate.
Get building science advice from an expert you trust
Unfortunately, the EPA has bad news, too: “Home energy upgrade activities might negatively affect indoor air quality if the appropriate home assessment is not made before work begins or if work is performed improperly.”
The key to healthy, effective home performance upgrades is remembering that your house is a system. You can’t change one part without affecting all the others, so enlist the advice of a trained building scientist before you start. Evergreen Home Performance offers comprehensive, whole-house improvements, including insulation, air sealing, basement encapsulation, and other energy-smart services. Typically, our customers see a 25-50% reduction in their overall energy use, and a 10% return on their investment. Contact Evergreen Home Performance for your FREE energy-smart consult at 594-2244 to find out how we can do the same for you!