It's common knowledge that eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly is important to maintain good health, but we often ignore the effect our surroundings can have on our well-being. We know that pollution is bad for our health and the environment, but the air quality and cleanliness of our homes are just as important.
Keeping a healthy home is something many people overlook, but it can impact the health of your family and even your guests.
The link between healthy homes and lack of illnesses has been observed since the 19th century when physicians spoke out about why decent, clean housing helped reduce diseases in financially insecure people. Proper ventilation and hygiene, as well as more sanitary waste management, were some of the earliest ways to ensure a healthy home, which directly impacted the health of its residents.
Today, the National Center for Healthy Housing promotes 10 principles of a healthy home:
Keeping a healthy home doesn't need to be a timely and costly ordeal. Look at it as a matter of small changes incorporate into your household routine. Many similar routines are already applied to public buildings, such as schools, so it's just a matter of applying those tactics to the home.
So, if you're wondering how to make your home healthy, here are 14 tips to help you get started:
Mold is a harmful presence but very easily avoidable. It thrives in moist, humid areas, so the easiest way to prevent it is by ensuring that your home's installation is proper and up to date and making sure that there is adequate ventilation throughout your house. Exhaust vents, especially those in bathrooms, should vent outdoors to prevent moisture from remaining in your home.
It's also a good idea to be diligent in cleaning areas where mold is likely to form, such as bathtubs or showers and around the taps on sinks. Check for leaks and fix them quickly to avoid water or moisture pooling in hard-to-see spots.
If you find mold in your home, be careful when cleaning it or call in professionals. Mold smells musty and pollutes the air quality in your home and can exacerbate bronchial issues, such as asthma. Some people are also allergic to mold and react by coughing or having sinus problems. And like most things, it's far easier to prevent mold than potentially deal with a much bigger mold issue later on.
The idea that harsh chemicals are the only way to get rid of germs and bacteria isn't completely accurate. There are many holistic methods to keep your home free of germs and bacteria while still being environmentally friendly. Many cleaning products consist of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which can pollute the air quality in your home and may even be toxic for humans and pets.
Instead, use household products that work just as well — or better — as commercial cleaners. White vinegar is an excellent disinfectant, as is baking soda. The two together make a powerful duo that can tackle almost any household mess.
Just like trees in a park, indoor plants produce oxygen by absorbing carbon monoxide. Certain plants are also great for reducing allergy symptoms and plants with blooms can brighten up a room as well as your mood.
If you have space, consider starting a small garden with a variety of plants, including herbs, which you can use in your cooking.
The world is full of unknown and often unwelcome germs and bacteria, and your shoes can carry many of them into your home. You can even bring things like pesticides into your house simply by walking on a lawn that has been treated with harsh chemicals. Removing your shoes when you enter your home is a good practice to prevent dirt, grime and bacteria from trailing into the rest of your house.
Investing in doormats for outside as well as inside your main door can also help reduce the number of contaminants that shoes can trail in.
Dusting is a chore but it's necessary for several reasons. Dust particles can interfere with air quality, making it harder to breathe. It also comes with microscopic pests, like dust mites. Dust is more likely to settle on furniture that isn't moved around much, like coffee tables or bookshelves. It may seem idle, but dust consists of an array of disgusting and harmful things, including dead skin cells and hazardous chemicals.
If you have carpeting, the chances of dust and other debris being buried in it are higher, so diligently vacuuming and properly emptying and disposing of the dust bag should be routine.
Smoking of any sort is best done outside the home. The chemicals in cigarettes and cigars, as well as the nicotine, can settle in your furniture and linen. Smoke also reduces the air quality in your home and can be harmful to non-smokers as well.
About 40% of kids in the U.S. are exposed to second-hand smoke, and those kids are more likely to develop asthma as a result. And the chances of developing lung cancer increase by 30% if you are exposed to second-hand smoke.
If quitting isn't an option, limit smoking to outdoor areas, which are much better ventilated.
It may seem silly to tell adults to wash their hands, but the benefits of proper handwashing are often overlooked. Washing your hands regularly can prevent you and your family from getting sick because it kills any germs and bacteria that may be hanging around. Germs are notorious for being easy to spread and can be transferred by a simple touch.
One of the easiest healthy home ideas to implement is getting into the habit of regularly washing hands. Hands should be washed before and after preparing food, after taking out the garbage and even after playing with pets.
In the past, things like lead and asbestos were regularly used in home construction. Chemicals like lead and radon can cause brain damage and even cancer.
If your home was built before the 1980s, get it tested for these hazardous materials and replace them with safer options. It's important to look to professionals to perform these tests since radon, like carbon monoxide, is odorless, and radon in a home with a person who smokes can increase the chances of developing lung cancer.
It's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home and make sure to test them and your smoke detectors regularly.
For a long time, it was thought that gas stoves were better for cooking as well as for the environment. We now know that that's not necessarily true. Studies have shown gas burners add to indoor air pollution by emitting between 25% and 30% of the average indoor nitrogen dioxide emissions for a week during the summer. Those numbers increased to 35% to 39% in the winter. The numbers for carbon monoxide were 30% in the summer and 21% in the winter.
For the sake of the environment, we need to wean off using fossil fuels, and a quick and easy way to do that is by switching your gas appliances for electric ones.
Another simple way to make your home healthy is by investing in an energy-efficient roof. This type of roof will help control the temperature in your home, reducing how much heat enters your home. It can even decrease the need for air conditioning by 10% to 15%.
The amount of savings will vary based on the climate where you live, as well as the design of your home. If you're building your own home, it's a good idea to consider an energy-efficient roof, which can save you money over the years.
If you're still using incandescent light bulbs, it's a good time to consider switching to energy-efficient choices, like halogen or LED bulbs. Energy-efficient bulbs live up to their name, using up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, and they last up to 25 times longer as well.
One of the best and easiest ways to improve the air quality in your home is to ventilate it. The air in your home is filled with various harmful things, like dust, pet dander, mold and carbon monoxide. Imagine breathing all that in all day — and while you're asleep.
The good news is that some parts of your house already get ventilated, such as your bathrooms and kitchen. The exhaust fans in these rooms are made to usher poor air out to make room for good air. But what about the rest of your house? Well, simply opening some windows can help ventilate your house as well. Open windows have the additional benefit of letting fresh air in and boosting overall moods.
But opening all the windows in your house isn't always an option, which is why mechanical ventilation exists. Dilution ventilation is a perk that comes with certain heating and cooling systems and it automatically ushers our contaminants in the air to allow clean air to filter through your home.
Even if no one in your home has mobility issues, cluttered stairs or procrastinating on repairs can lead to avoidable injuries. Simple things like ensuring doorways and stairways are free of clutter or fixing a broken window pane quickly are good habits to get into as well as ways to keep your family and your guests safer.
Safety extends to your food as well. It's a good idea to clean out your pantry and fridge regularly and throw away expired foods. And remember to lock away toxic products, like detergents and other cleaning products, as well as medications.
Also, check major appliances regularly to ensure they're working as they should.
Not many of us think about the cleanliness of our cleaning supplies, but sometimes these products end up spreading bacteria around instead of clearing it away. Supplies like sponges and dish towels absorb water and bacteria, which then festers until you use it to clean up. Switch out sponges regularly and wash towels every week.
Parts of the home that are touched the most are often the least likely to be cleaned. This includes walls, doorknobs and the toilet's flush handle. Bacteria and germs collect on these surfaces and transfer from person to person and object every time someone touches them.
Disinfecting kitchen countertops is a good habit to get into if you want to reduce the chances of germs spreading, especially if you use the countertop to prep food. Similarly, switch out your wooden cutting board if it's cracked. Bacteria from the food cut on the board can end up stuck in the small spaces — plus, wood is a porous material, which means it absorbs liquids rather than releasing them. Consider switching to a plastic cutting board instead since they are easier to clean and liquids do not linger on plastic.
Building up the ideal energy-efficient home of your dreams has never been easier. At SK Builders, we pride ourselves on being a family-owned business that aims to help clients get the best. We offer a line of floor plans that you can customize as you need.
Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or looking to buy a new home, SK Builders is here to help you build a way of life. Get in touch by calling 864-292-0400 or by filling out our online contact form.