Winter is still here, and if you live in Salt Lake City, you know what that means: snow, ice, and cold. Lots of it. While the winter wonderland outside may look beautiful, it can also pose some serious hazards for your home and your health. That's why it's important to take some precautions to ensure your indoor environment is safe, comfortable, and energy-efficient. Here are some tips and hacks to help you survive the winter indoors:
Tip # 1: Check and change your furnace filter regularly.
Your furnace filter is your first line of defense against indoor air pollution, which can worsen during the winter due to increased use of heating systems, fireplaces, and candles. A dirty or clogged filter can reduce the efficiency of your furnace, increase your energy bills, and expose you to harmful particles and allergens. To avoid these problems, make sure you check your filter at least once a month and replace it every 3 months or more frequently if needed. You can also upgrade to a higher-rated filter that can capture more of the smallest particles that make up air pollution.
Tip # 2: Use a humidifier to balance the indoor humidity levels.
Winter air is dry, and so is the air inside your home when you crank up the heat. Dry air can cause a number of issues, such as dry skin, nosebleeds, cracked lips, static electricity, and increased risk of infections. It can also damage your wooden floors and furniture by causing them to shrink and crack. To prevent these problems, you can use a humidifier to add moisture to the air and keep it within the recommended range for your flooring type. Just make sure you clean your humidifier regularly and use distilled water to avoid mold and mineral buildup.
Tip # 3: Seal your windows and doors to prevent drafts and heat loss.
One of the easiest ways to save energy and money during the winter is to seal any gaps or cracks around your windows and doors that can let cold air in and warm air out. You can use simple kits from hardware stores to apply weatherstripping, caulk, or foam to seal the leaks. You can also use plastic film, curtains, or blinds to add an extra layer of insulation to your windows. These simple hacks can help you keep your home warmer and cozier without cranking up the thermostat.
Tip # 4: Avoid using wood-burning fireplaces or candles, or use them with caution.
Nothing beats the cozy ambiance of a crackling fire or a flickering candle on a cold winter night. But did you know that these sources of light and heat can also create a lot of indoor air pollution? Wood-burning fireplaces and candles can emit harmful substances such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. If you do use them, make sure you have proper ventilation, use a fireplace screen, and never leave them unattended. Better yet, switch to electric or gas fireplaces or flameless candles for a safer and cleaner alternative.
Tip # 5: Clean your home regularly and use low-VOC products.
Another way to improve your indoor air quality and reduce your exposure to pollutants is to clean your home frequently and use low-VOC products. Dust, dirt, and pet dander can accumulate on your floors and surfaces and create particulate matter, which can worsen respiratory problems and allergies. Vacuuming with a HEPA filter and mopping or wiping with a wet cloth can help remove these particles and keep your home fresh and clean. When choosing cleaning products, paints, air fresheners, or personal care products, look for low-VOC or natural options that don't emit harmful chemicals into the air.
Winter can be a challenging time for Salt Lake City residents, but it doesn't have to be a miserable one. By following these tips and hacks, you can make your home a safe and cozy sanctuary where you can enjoy the season without compromising your health or comfort. Stay warm and stay safe, and don't forget to check out our other Hump Day Home Hacks for more useful advice and inspiration!