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How indoor air can make you healthier

Every day you take somewhere between 17,000 and 23,000 breaths, many of them at home while you’re working, exercising or sleeping. When’s the last time you stopped to think about what exactly you’re breathing in and the effect your indoor air could be having on your body?

The act of breathing itself isn’t something people spend too much time fretting about, especially when we’re at home, we are always counting on our body’s ability to replace high levels of carbon dioxide with life-sustaining oxygen.

But as we go about our lives there’s another aspect of this process that’s far from our minds: how the quality of our home’s air affects those everyday activities.

Here are five key questions you can add to your better-breathing checklist to make sure you’re making the most of your indoor air.

1. What is the ideal temperature for an exercise like yoga?

When exercising at home what you’re less likely to be considering is how the air around you is affecting the quality of your workout. Traditional yoga calls for a temperature between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. You might want to raise or lower your thermostat by a few degrees depending on your personal preference.

Beyond temperature, you also need to account for humidity, airborne pollutants and even a general perception of how the air ‘feels.’ A good HVAC system lets you control all of these factors so that your workout leaves you feeling great inside and out.

2. Do air filters really make a difference?

When we think about air pollution, we usually picture smog-choked streets or exhaust from giant pipes outside a factory, but indoor air contaminants can also make your breathing more difficult, especially for people with allergies or asthma.

From pet dander and dust mites to pollen that hitched, the air inside your home could probably use a clean. High-efficiency Particulate air (HEPA) filters actually do make a difference.

Sweta Hari, a director of product management at Lennox who works on indoor air quality, said: “Homeowners often don’t recognise that the basic one-inch filter they buy at their local hardware store can only do so much to keep basic lint and pollen out.”

More advanced filters, Mr Hari says, can filter out dust mites, pet dander, smoke, smog, and the spread of cough and cold particles.

3. How does air temperature affect sleep?

We spend a third of our lives in pursuit of a ‘good night’s rest.’ From customised mattresses and white noise machines to ergonomic ear plugs and melatonin, many of us take a scientific approach to getting the best sleep possible.

But none of these things will be of much help if we’re not correctly managing the air around us. There’s a direct correlation between our body’s temperature and our sleep cycle. Research suggests that the ideal condition for sleep sits somewhere between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius. The temperature is on the low side as your core body temperature drops to a lower level during sleep, so an overly warm temperature interferes with your brain’s messages that it’s time to get some sleep.

Additionally, older systems lack the ability to optimise conditions for different rooms and don’t factor in temperature changes from space to space. Investing in a high-tech system can also be an investment in getting a better night’s sleep.

4. What’s the optimal indoor humidity level?

Indoor air that’s too moist not only feels damp and unpleasant, but encourages the growth of mould and mildew spores. Similarly, in colder months indoor heating systems can also be too drying, leading to irritated nasal passages and flaky skin.

Humidity is a measure of the water vapor suspended in the air around you. Inside your home, it can cause troubles from warping your furniture to making you feel sick.

Brandon Chase, a senior product marketing manager at Lennox, said: “Oftentimes, humidity levels are the true culprit when it comes to ideal indoor comfort.”

The ideal relative humidity for health and comfort is somewhere between 30-50 per cent, a factor you can control with an advanced HVAC system. Proper humidity levels can help you feel more alert and energised, while also protecting your belongings, your walls, and the rest of your home.

5. Should different parts of my house be optimised at different temperatures?

Setting your thermostat to the recommended temperature isn’t a guarantee that you’re getting what’s indicated. Older heating and cooling systems kick on or off at one speed, resulting in significant temperature swings. They also lack the ability to optimise conditions for different rooms in our home.

That’s where advancements such as variable-capacity motors and zone control come in to play. Such motors can be found the Lennox Ultimate Comfort System, one of the quietest and most efficient systems available. With the zone-controlling iHarmony feature from Lennox, you can divide your home in up to four sections that can be individually optimised for whatever you’re doing.

Paying attention to the air around you matters. With an advanced HVAC system you’ll still be automatically inhaling and exhaling, but now you’ll know that the air you’re breathing is doing more than filling your lungs; It’s helping you live better and feel better, from sleep to exercise to overall well-being.

4 November 2019
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