The thought of a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal may fill your mind with a delicious aroma. A big Thanksgiving feast typically involves days of cooking, baking and a lot of humans in one space. The reality is, all of these factors are hidden sources of indoor air pollution.
In preparation for the upcoming holiday season, be mindful of your indoor air quality. Combat indoor air pollution before, during and after the gathering with these Thanksgiving indoor air quality tips and solutions.
Thanksgiving Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
Perhaps it’s strange to think of the holidays as a time for increased indoor air pollution. But when we break it down, it makes sense! The main sources of pollution when hosting a Thanksgiving event at home are:
- Cooking and baking
- Increased household occupancy (AKA humans gathering and occupying an indoor space!)
Combine these sources with colder weather, the heat turned on high and closed windows and doors … and you have the perfect recipe for poor indoor air quality.
Both cooking and baking are sources of increased indoor air pollution. The actual heat source used (whether gas, wood or electric) results in different types of pollutants. Additionally, the actual cooking processes themselves produce chemicals that further compromise indoor air. Gas stoves and ovens produce harmful pollutants like formaldehyde and combustion gases.
Not to mention that cooking sprays, cookware and even kitchen countertop sprays provide an unhealthy mix of chemicals for you and your guests.
Speaking of guests, they are another common source of indoor air pollution! When other people enter your home, they bring pollutants with them. This includes pollen, germs, aerosols, pet dander and airborne transmitted illnesses. Once guests enter your home, these pollutants circulate throughout the air and rest on surfaces affecting indoor air quality.
Also important to note, the more people you have in your home, the more moisture and pollutants circulating throughout your space. Occupancy matters, and it can be a major factor in air quality indoors.
Thanksgiving Indoor Air Quality Tips
1. Ventilate While Cooking
The first step you can take to improve Thanksgiving indoor air quality is to ventilate. And we truly mean ventilate, ventilate, ventilate! There are a few ways to do so.
First, turn on the kitchen exhaust fan. Stovetops and ovens should offer localized exhaust systems. This is one of the best in-the-moment solutions available!
Another option, depending on weather, is to open windows and doors. Preferably, this is done while running fans to promote better circulation.
Running the exhaust fan and opening windows is a great combination, but it isn’t always the most comfortable option in November. If the climate is cold or the weather is uncooperative, then windows and doors aren’t a viable option. Because even a modest increase in ventilation is better than none at all, we suggest using a window fan to minimize cooking fumes and pollutants during the day!
Compared to these localized options, the best long-term ventilation solution is a whole-home system that moves fresh air throughout the entire home. Installing a whole-home mechanical ventilation system is cost-effective. There are different ventilation systems available, such as energy recovery ventilators and heat recovery ventilators. Both work with the existing HVAC system to bring fresh air in and move stale, polluted air out.
2. Control Humidity Levels
As the colder weather causes us to turn to heaters for comfort, the already drier wintertime air loses more moisture. Thus, intensifying the feeling and effects of dry air.
In contrast, simple daily actions increase moisture levels in your home. Activities such as showering, drying clothes, boiling water for mashed potatoes or steaming vegetables.
This means indoor humidity levels are fluctuating during fall. When humidity levels are too high or too low, they create an ideal environment for allergens and bacteria to circulate and thrive.
The best way to control your home’s humidity is to install a whole-home humidifier or dehumidifier. Depending on where you live (and what poor air quality factors you notice your space suffers most), an indoor air quality expert can help determine which system is needed to keep your home’s indoor relative humidity within the optimal range of 40–60%.
3. Change Air Filters Before Thanksgiving Day
Do you know the last time you changed the air filters in your living space? How about the filters in your portable air purifier or humidifier? When it comes to filtered devices and appliances, they are only efficient and effective when cleaned and changed regularly. When it comes to the HVAC system, dirty filters mean poor indoor air quality.
Changing air filters regularly prevents unwanted debris and particles from circulating indoors. You’re also promoting the longevity of the HVAC system by ensuring it’s well maintained.
Before you cook, clean or host this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, be sure to install brand new air filters! Air filters are one of the easier indoor air quality upgrades. When it comes to choosing the best filter for your home, we recommend MERV 13 filters across the board. MERV 13 filters are the ideal choice for improved air quality. These filters have an immediate and noticeable impact on your home’s air quality.
4. Monitor Indoor Air from Your Mobile Phone
If you want to better understand the indoor air quality in your home, consider installing a central air monitor. That way, you can learn the what, where and how of the specific pollutants affecting your space. And on a busy day like Thanksgiving, you can see firsthand high-polluting activities!
An in-duct central air monitor is installed directly into your home’s HVAC system. It tracks everything from humidity levels to temperature to pollutants, and sends insightful air quality information directly to your smartphone or tablet. It not only lets you know what types of pollutants are in your space, but offers helpful tips and tricks to improve air quality. A whole-home monitor is a great holiday season device because it helps you notice in real-time how the aforementioned sources impact your home’s indoor air quality.
Healthy Indoor Air This Thanksgiving
Improving indoor air quality means choosing solutions that better the entire space. Choose to take action to improve your space’s air quality before the upcoming holiday season! Now is the perfect time for healthier indoor air.
When it comes to IAQ, we have plenty of recommendations that can be customized to create a personal home strategy. If you have questions about Thanksgiving indoor air quality tips and solutions, we’re happy to help!