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What the First Day of Fall Means for Indoor Air Quality

The Autumnal Equinox marks the first day of fall. Is your home ready for the colder months? Learn how the upcoming season will impact your indoor air quality.
Last Updated on September 15, 2022

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autumn indoor air quality

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There’s a change in the air as summer fades into fall. Not only does the temperature start to drop, but there’s a distinctive smell. It makes one think of crunching leaves, warm pies and cozy sweaters. We, however, think of what autumn means for indoor air quality, and the solutions available to improve your home air quality.

Autumn Indoor Air Quality

Unfortunately, the crisp fall air comes with its own set of problems. Did you know that as we enter autumn and expect cooler wetter weather, your home’s indoor air quality will likely take a dive? Just in time for the official start of fall, take the time to evaluate your indoor air quality. Here are six ways your space’s autumn indoor air quality could suffer and six simple solutions to ensure fresh healthy indoor air this season!

1. Less Airflow

During the warmer months, it’s common to keep windows and doors open. You soak in the fresh air while allotting plenty of natural ventilation in your indoor space. In the fall, however, most climates don’t allow this as easily. Whether it’s too chilly outside or because of frequent wet weather, we tend to keep windows and doors closed.

But when you close windows, you aren’t just cutting off the cold air, you’re also cutting off the source of fresh air. With less natural ventilation, indoor air pollutants and germs have fewer circulation paths, meaning they can be trapped inside. This can lead to poor indoor air quality.

The Solution to Limited Airflow

Without that nice summer breeze and less natural ventilation, your indoor space needs mechanical ventilation instead. Having an efficient whole-home ventilation system will promote healthy air circulation, AKA an influx of fresh air without battling cold temperatures! We often describe mechanical ventilation as lungs for your home. These ventilation systems bring in fresh outdoor air and circulate it through the entire home while getting rid of stale exhaust air. It’s also a more energy-efficient system!

2. Autumn Allergies

There are many types of particles and pollen varieties that cause allergy symptoms throughout the year. While most assume allergy season is only during the warmer spring months, fall is also a big allergy season! In fact, there are multiple major allergens that are prevalent during autumn.

Ragweed is especially common in the fall because it blooms in August and pollinates throughout the fall until temperatures reach freezing. The weed raises fall-time pollen levels, irritating those with seasonal allergies.

The Solution to Fall Allergens

Sadly those that suffer from spring allergies are just as likely to suffer from fall allergies. The best IAQ solution for allergy sufferers is air filters, which can play a critical role in improving their indoor comfort. Air filters’ importance is often overlooked. Especially because high-efficiency filters do a great job of capturing air particles, even the smallest indoor air pollutants. We suggest upgrading to MERV 13 filters.

3. Low Humidity

It might be more noticeable in some locales than others, but humidity levels change for everyone at the start of fall. As the temperatures cool, the outdoor air becomes drier. But that isn’t the only indoor humidity factor. As you switch to heat to keep your home warm in the chilly fall, the heater sadly also contributes to drier indoor air. As a result, most homes have noticeably drier air throughout autumn.

The Solution to Low Humidity

The fall months are the start of chapped lips and cracked hands. As a result, a lot of people will fill their homes with portable room humidifiers. The problem is you’ll need multiple humidifiers to treat the entire house. Not only do they not look great and clutter your space, but they’re less effective.

A better solution to fighting dry indoor air is whole-home humidification. Compared to stand-alone humidifiers, whole-home humidifiers work with your home HVAC system to increase moisture levels. This is necessary to keep indoor humidity levels within the ideal 40–60% range.

4. Cold and Flu Season

Autumn isn’t just the season of pumpkin spice and changing leaves. It’s also the start of cold and flu season! Meaning, that there are more illnesses to fight. The cooler the air gets and the more we’re forced indoors, the easier airborne illnesses can spread. Particles from a wide range of viruses could be circulating in your air without even realizing it.

The Solution to Airborne Germs

Thankfully, there are many IAQ solutions that help fight airborne germs and viruses. We recommend pursuing a combination of filtration, ventilation and purification. Your indoor air quality impacts your family’s ability to stay healthy.

The aforementioned whole-home humidifiers are a great step to curb illness at home. Studies show that spaces with low indoor humidity levels are more likely to have flu virus particles. Ensuring that your home is in the ideal humidity range will help keep occupants healthy and reduce virus particles. Additionally, air purifiers help reduce the number of germs in the air. Similar to humidifiers, whole-home purifiers are wildly more efficient and successful at protecting your home compared to standalone units. 

Because of this, you should take a two-pronged approach to autumn indoor air quality concerns before the cold and flu season fully arrives.

5. Likely Increase in Pollution

In many areas, fall arrives with an increase in air pollution. This happens for a couple of reasons. First, more people drive in the colder months. When it’s warm outside and your destination is nearby, you may consider walking or biking. 

autumn season indoor air problems and solutions

But when the weather is cold, chances are you’re choosing the car for every errand. And we know that exhaust emissions are a significant air pollution source.

Additionally, people often use more energy during the fall. This is because homes and businesses use a mix of both AC and heat as the weather changes to ensure comfortable temperatures indoors. We also spend more time inside with lights on because it gets darker earlier. 

This widescale increase in energy use across the country contributes to higher air pollution levels. And when there’s more air pollution outside, it’s likely to increase indoor air pollution as well.

The Solution to Air Pollution

Whole-home air purifiers are one of the best ways to reduce indoor air pollutants and improve your home’s indoor air quality. Purification systems decontaminate the air you breathe before it’s even recirculated back into your breathing space. They’re an ideal low-maintenance solution for cleaner air.

6. Mold

Mold is a serious air quality issue. Breathing in mold spores is unhealthy for anyone. Unfortunately, there can be more mold in the air during autumn as mold thrives in wet climates and damp spaces.

We often think of mold as something that stays in the basement, wet spaces outdoors and the corners of our homes we tend not to think about. However, mold spores spread and circulate and eventually enter your home.

The Solution to Increased Mold

The HVAC solutions to remove mold are already included on this list! Whole-home humidifiers, purifiers and high-efficiency air filters are all helpful solutions to combat mold! Perhaps that’s one of the best benefits of IAQ solutions: they’re multipurpose. You’re almost always fixing multiple problems at once.

So, whether or not you or a family member suffers from mold sensitivity, we recommend improving your HVAC system by investing in whole-home IAQ systems. 

Take Charge of Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality This Autumn

While there are changes in the air and environment during fall that you can’t control, you do have power over the air you breathe in your home. In fact, it’s the one space you truly control. So we suggest investing in healthy indoor air quality.

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Indoor air quality matters. Indoor air quality control solutions work. We are the homeowner’s advocate. Our goal is to help you create a healthier indoor space through education, awareness and action. We support clean air for all and we know it’s possible for every single indoor space.

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