We spend more time now than ever in our homes.
As a whole, we spend roughly 90% of our time indoors and 65% of that time is usually spent in our own homes. With spending all that time inside, it makes sense that our health would be affected by our surroundings. So, doesn't it also make sense that your home should be as healthy as possible?
Check out these 5 expert tips from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for creating a healthier home for you and your family.
Tip #1: Install Detectors
This one's a bit of a freebie since it pertains to something that should already be in every home, on every floor: smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They're required because they're designed to loudly and quickly alert you of a life-threatening situation. Smoke detectors alert you to fires, while CO detectors warn you about the odorless, deadly gas carbon monoxide.
CO, also known as The Silent Killer, is a byproduct of combustion. Appliances like water heaters, boilers, and natural gas stoves can all emit CO. If they're not fully combusted or your home's not properly ventilated, a deadly build-up of CO can occur. In the US, more than 350 people die of unintentional CO poisoning each year. So, be sure to test those detectors regularly to make sure they're running smoothly.
Pro Tip: Change the batteries in your detectors when you change your clocks for daylight savings time!
Tip #2: Kick Off Your Shoes
...by the door! Think about it: anything you step on outside, you bring into your home on the bottom of your shoes. By taking off your shoes at the door, you reduce the amount of dirt, dust, and germs tracked into your home. And, in addition to keeping your house cleaner, leaving shoes at the door also reduces corrosive road dust, salts, and oils you've picked up that may be harmful to pets or damage floor surfaces.
Pro Tip: Get creative! Turn the doorway into an efficient, organized mudroom or transitional entryway to remind you to stop and take off your shoes.
Tip #3: Get the Lead Out
Literally! If you're in a home built before 1980, there's a decent chance there's lead in your paint. This is especially important for homes with young kids and women who are either pregnant or of child-bearing age. Yep, you read that right: the lead a woman is exposed to, even before becoming pregnant, can be passed down to the developing fetus during pregnancy.
Lead is one of the most potent neurological toxicants known, and it's been shown to cause lifelong impacts on IQ, learning, and behavior. If you're in an older home, test the interior and exterior paint for lead, and take steps to remediate it as soon as possible if it's found.
Pro Tip: The University of Massachusetts has an inexpensive test to let you know about the lead in your soil, amongst other things.
Tip #4: Let In Natural Light
Over millennia, the human species has evolved in close connection with nature, and it's only recently that we've walled ourselves off from the natural environment with our buildings. But, truly, we are creatures that are closely aligned with the light-dark cycles that come from the rising and setting sun. So let her in!
Connections with nature are good for our health. And exposure to natural light and darkness at the right times is critical to our natural circadian rhythm. So, consider the field of biophilic design (a.k.a. incorporating natural materials, light, plants, and exterior views) and reconnect with nature in your home.
Pro Tip: Install a skylight! VELUX skylights are available in a wide variety of styles, shapes, and sizes to help you bring natural light further into your home than you ever thought possible.
Tip #5: And Fresh Air Too
Believe it or not, the concentrations of air pollutants indoors are often 2-5 times higher than those outdoors. You should be ventilating your home as much as possible, especially when the outside air is clean. Buildings that are ventilated more often have been linked to the reduction of "sick building" symptoms, like headaches and eye irritation.
Whenever you're able, bring more fresh air into your home by opening windows and skylights. You can also increase the outdoor air intake through your central mechanical system. If your home does have mechanical ventilation, make sure to install high-efficiency air filters and replace them every 3-6 months.
Pro Tip: You guessed it...install a skylight! VELUX venting skylights - what we call our "Fresh Air" Skylights - open just enough to remain safe while also allowing fresh air to flow through your home. And if you get VELUX ACTIVE with NETATMO for your skylights, they'll even open and close automatically to create the ideal air quality for your home.