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Breathing Deep: How to Have Healthy Indoor Air

6.8.12 by the Green Hammer Team

How important is healthy indoor air to you? Dust, CO2, VOC's, radon - the list of indoor air pollutants is long. Did you know that CO2 makes us sleepy when we're awake, yet restless when we're trying to sleep? It's a counter-intuitive and often overlooked fact. If you have a loved one who suffers from asthma, you understand the importance of clean air. If you have forced air heating, you know how dust can accumulate.

For this complex problem, we recommend one simple solution: heat recovery ventilation (HRV). An HRV is whole house ventilation system that both filters and preheats incoming air. But, that's not all. HRVs are necessary in tightly sealed Passivhauses and so they have been extensively studied. HRVs are shown to reduce radon and VOCs. Without getting too technical, HRVs are so effective because they deliver continuous, fresh air, while exhausting the stale air, thus keeping your home pressure-balanced. Furnaces, bath vents, and range hoods, key components of traditional ventilation systems, suck air out of a home and simultaneously pull 'make-up' air from somewhere else - typically your basement, crawlspace, or inside wall cavities. How clean do you think those spaces are? They aren't.

The total cost for an HRV in an existing, average-size home is about $3,500, which is not insignificant, but well worth it. One of our clients happily reported that their asthmatic son now sleeps soundly at night. Others brag that they no longer have to dust! The progressive State of Oregon offers a modest Tax Credit for HRV systems

If an HRV isn't in your budget right now, plants can be helpful. You might enjoy this TED Talk on the best plants to clean indoor air.

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