What is indoor air quality – and why is it important?

Did you know? On average, we spend around 90 % of our time indoors. In one day, we breathe in about 12,000 litres of air – more than half of which comes from our own home. Constant over- and underheating, dampness, or exposure to certain chemicals can cause a variety ailments. Short-term effects include headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. In the long run, this might even lead to respiratory diseases (e. g. asthma) and lung cancer. We have good news though: once you know how to improve your indoor air quality, you can easily avoid these risk factors. Some simple routines, combined with smart technology, will keep your air fresh and clean.

Causes of indoor air pollution

Ideally, air in enclosed spaces should consist of 21 % oxygen, 78 % nitrogen, 0.93 % noble gas, and 0.03 % carbon dioxide. However, it might also include tiny dust or dirt particles and harmful gases. Such indoor air pollution is caused by several circumstances:

Ideally, air in enclosed spaces should consist of 21 % oxygen, 78 % nitrogen, 0.93 % noble gas, and 0.03 % carbon dioxide. However, it might also include tiny dust or dirt particles and harmful gases. Such indoor air pollution is caused by several circumstances:

  • dampness and mould

  • smoke and vapour

  • products containing toxic chemicals

  • building materials such as asbestos, fibreglass, and radon

  • high levels of carbon dioxide (more than 0.1 %)

In most cases, all of these hazards can be avoided – provided you stick with a few healthy habits. Our top 5 tips will give you a concise idea of how to improve the indoor air quality in your home.

Clean indoor air tip no. 1: maintain ideal temperatures

Heating control accounts for no less than 70 % of an average household’s energy expenditure. Hence, you should regulate your indoor climate as efficiently as possible. General recommendations for temperatures in different rooms are as follows:

  • 20 h – 22°C in living room areas

  • 18°C in kitchens

  • 17 – 18°C in bedrooms

  • 22°C in bathrooms

Even when you’re away for a longer period of time, temperatures should not drop below 14°C. Otherwise, condensation water will accumulate quickly. A smart heating system allows you to adjust the settings for each room in a matter of seconds: manually via switch or remotely via app. You can configure personalised schedules to determine how warm your house should be at any given time. Once a desired temperature is reached, heating will stop automatically. Smart indoor climate solutions thus help you save valuable energy – and lower your monthly bills.

Still wondering how to improve indoor air quality during the summer? A smart blind system helps you shade your home against sunlight and keep the heat out. Once connected to the Gira KNX weather station Plus, your shutters will lower themselves as soon as the sun comes out – and pull back again as soon as it gets dark or stormy.

Clean indoor air tip no. 2: ensure regular ventilation

The level of relative humidity should lie somewhere between 40 % and 60 % in your house. Levels beyond 80 % provide the perfect breeding ground for mould and other fungi – which can make us severely ill. According to a study conducted in 2016, people living in a damp home are 40 % more likely to develop asthma. It is therefore important to prevent condensation early on, particularly in areas such as the kitchen or bathroom. You should open your windows fully for at least 5-10 minutes every day – even during the winter. Tilted windows alone won’t do the trick: with a narrow gap, the exchange of air takes much longer and you will lose a lot of heating energy in the process.

Opening your windows at least once a day will keep the air in your home fresh and clean. Source: Gira

Clean indoor air tip no. 3: opt for chemical-free products

Many conventional products used for cleaning or decorating contain so-called “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs). These chemicals, particularly when occurring in sprays, can cause various symptoms – ranging from occasional headaches to chronic allergies and asthma. With that in mind, try choosing options with mostly natural ingredients and low VOC levels for products such as:

  • washing detergents

  • furniture polish

  • air fresheners, deodorants, perfumes

  • carpet cleaners

  • pesticides and fungicides

  • paints and paint strippers

  • varnishes and glues

Clean indoor air tip no. 4: keep it green

House plants not only add the finishing touch to your interior design. They also serve as a natural remedy against indoor air pollution. Why? Because any kind of greenery growing in your home is constantly:

  • filtering dirt particles

  • absorbing pollutants emanating from furniture, paint colours, or electric devices

  • regulating the humidity levels

For those wondering how to improve indoor air quality with plants most effectively, here are a few recommendations: English ivy, spider plants, dragon trees, Boston fern, and Kentia palms.

Extra tip: create a feel-good climate with smart lighting

Overall, a healthy indoor environment includes much more than the air we breathe. To feel comfortable, we need surroundings that appeal to all our senses. The importance of indoor air quality goes hand in hand with the importance of colours and lighting: too much or too little brightness will affect our mood and productivity throughout the day. With the help of a smart lighting system, you can adjust the settings for your entire home according to your personal routines. Gira dimmers, for example, gently illuminate the room whenever you want a cosy ambience. The Gira Sensotec, on the other hand, guides you through the dark without blinding your eyes: thanks to an integrated high-frequency sensor, soft orientation lights will switch on whenever you walk by at night.

Linoleum-plywood – stylish and sustainable

Linoleum-plywood is made from renewable resources, offers plenty of room for creativity, and is highly robust.

Gira KNX weather station Plus

You can follow your daily routine in complete relaxation because, no matter what the weather, your home is prepared for everything. The Gira weather station Plus is particularly convenient, safe and efficient. This system measures nine different meteorological parameters and transmits the current data to the in-house KNX system. Paired devices then perform the desired functions: The sun starts to shine and the blinds are automatically lowered, it gets stormy and they are brought back into a safe position. Or the shutters close in the dark and the exterior and path lighting switches on. It's as simple as that.

Gira System 3000 blind control

Light. Dark. Or all the moods in between: Control blinds, shutters and awnings and thus not only regulate the incidence of light in your living spaces, but also stabilise the indoor climate and save energy. Various top units are available in the Gira System 3000 for easy control without physical effort: from manual to Bluetooth top units that can be controlled via app. The special feature of the Gira System 3000: If you have initially decided on a manual operating top unit, you can exchange it for another top unit from the System 3000 at any time. For example, a switch can be transformed into a user-friendly blind timer and timer that you can use to set automatic movement times for your electric blinds. You can also choose from various Gira designs which you can use to adapt all functional top units to your living style.

Gira System 3000 room temperature controller

Control your heating with maximum simplicity and comfort. Gira System 3000 makes it possible for you to fully automate your room temperature. You can warm up your home whenever you want via time-controlled heating control and also make sure that the heating automatically switches off at a pre-set time. This saves energy and enhances your living comfort.

Gira UK c/o Wandsworth, the home of Gira in the UK

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