Many of us are mindful about health, from what we eat, to exercise, and planning fun events with family and friends. But when it comes to the air we breathe, we may be less tuned in.

"It may come as a surprise to many people that the lowest quality air they breathe is often in their own homes," says Joseph Giannone, owner of Joseph Giannone Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. "It gets even worse during the cold months, when we keep the doors and windows shut tight, sealing in allergens and other irritants as well as excessive moisture. Plus, heating your home can lower the humidity, which can lead to problems for you, your home and your pets."

Giannone offers the following tips to help.

Clean the home weekly. Weekly cleaning will collect and minimize dust and pet dander, two of the most common indoor irritants. In addition, a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter will fight the accumulation of airborne matter.

Maintain proper moisture levels. Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and the kitchen to keep moisture from settling, which can lead to biological growth, including bacteria. One of the most effective treatments to combat growth is a whole-home sanitization system, which can be professionally installed by an HVAC company and consists of two stages of ultraviolet lights that kill both organic growth on the coils and airborne spores. Dry air and low humidity also play a part in many problems for people and their pets, from dry skin to serious respiratory irritation or even illness. In addition, low humidity can damage wood, leading to cracks and chipped paint. Solutions range from a single-room humidifier to whole-home systems, depending on your needs.

Schedule regular HVAC maintenance. Regular maintenance and cleaning of your HVAC system, including regularly changing the filter, is a key part of maintaining air quality standards in your home. Adding a whole-home air cleaner to your HVAC system will provide additional filtration for the smallest airborne pollutants.

"We all know the importance of taking preventative measures for our health, but we often forget that our living environment makes a large impact on us," Giannone says. "A key measure everyone should take is to make sure they do everything possible to improve their home's air quality. After all, it's where most of us spend the majority of our time."


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