Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Did you know indoor air is substantially more polluted than outdoor air? It's true.

There are 2 main sources of indoor air pollutants:

  1. Chemicals – Our furniture, carpet, paint, cleaning supplies, etc. all come with some nasty chemicals in them, many are called called VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. Lead, formaldehyde, and radon are a few others. Check out this EPA site for more information on IAQ.

  2. Combustion appliances – These are your furnace, water heater, gas stove, gas dryer, and any other fossil fueled appliances. If they are not burning their fuel completely, they release carbon monoxide (CO).

There are 2 steps to the Home Performance process: 1. An energy audit and 2. The insulation and air sealing measures. Here is how those affect IAQ:

Energy audits help identify IAQ problems. Energy audits, or home energy assessments, are a detailed analysis of where the energy leaks in your home are. The little known side of energy audits, though, is that they also check how well your combustion appliances, particularly the furnace and hot water heater, are working. The energy auditor will find out if CO production is too high and notify you. A good heating and air conditioning company can then address these issues.

Many public utilities now have energy audit programs that offset most or all of the cost of an energy audit. A good energy audit often costs nearly $500. Many utilities only charge $50-100 for a subsidized audit. Here are a few links to energy audit programs from local utilities. You usually do not have to buy your gas or electricity from them, they just need to be at the top of your bill.

Dominion East Ohio Gas – www.deohpwes.com - $50 audits plus up to $1250 in rebates

First Energy -  www.energysaveohio.com - $100 audits plus up to $275 in rebates, more for HVAC equipment

There are many excellent independent energy auditors as well, look for them on Angie's Listbpi.org, or another qualified source.

The air sealing and insulation measures stop dust in the attic and outside the house from getting in, which reduces allergies from pollen, dust, and mold.

Air sealing in the basement also stops many of the holes that bugs and critters come in, stopping lots of, well, pooping in the house.

There are tests for other indoor air pollutants, particularly radon. Aside from that, try to pay attention to what you buy, use low or no-VOC products when possible.

For more information on how to improve your indoor air quality, click here