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Do Open Windows Affect Indoor Air Quality?

April 10, 2023

Many homeowners utilize the spring season for spring cleaning, which can entail various tasks. Some work to improve the exterior of their homes, such as mulching and planting, while others enhance the interior of their homes, such as painting and deep cleaning. Spring cleaning is an array of essential home tasks for some, because the improvements can increase productivity, declutter, and wash away the winter season. Pollutants and allergens can build up from being trapped indoors all winter long, and bringing in fresh, spring air is beneficial for indoor air quality. In this article, we discuss indoor air quality in Los Angeles and if opening windows can reduce home pollutants.

What Are Common Air Pollutants In Los Angeles?

Air quality is measured by the Air Quality Index (AQI), which ranges from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI, the more polluted the air is and the greater the health concern. Generally, 0-50 is considered good air quality, 51-100 is moderate, 101-150 is unhealthy for sensitive groups, and 151-500 is a health concern for everyone. Cities similar to Los Angeles typically have higher pollution levels due to population size. According to the County of Los Angeles Public Health. Los Angeles county is one of the most polluted regions in the nation. However, some areas in and around L.A. maintain a “moderate” ranking on the AQI.

When considering opening windows and doors in your home, it is important to know what common outdoor pollutants may enter. Below are six criteria air pollutants regulated by the EPA, according to the County of Los Angeles Public Health.

  • Particulate pollution
  • Ground level ozone
  • Lead
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Sulfur oxides

Did you know that indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air? This is due to lack of ventilation in homes and buildings. Along with outdoor pollutants, it is equally as important to know the common indoor air pollutants within homes to protect you and other residents’ health. Below are seven common indoor air pollutants in Los Angeles according to the County of Los Angeles Public Health.

  • Environmental tobacco smoke
  • Combustion pollutants
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead
  • Pesticide
  • Radon
  • Asbestos

Understanding what pollutants are floating around your home can help direct you toward the best solution to improve your indoor air quality in Los Angeles!

Open Windows vs. Indoor Air Quality

Many homeowners enjoy opening their windows in the spring to freshen up their homes, especially when the outdoor temperatures are comfortable. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, opening windows increases air ventilation and helps remove indoor airborne pollutants coming from sources throughout your home. However, it is important to consider what outdoor pollutants may enter through the open doors and windows. Below are three factors to consider when deciding whether or not to open your windows in Los Angeles and surrounding areas this spring.

  • L.A. Air Quality
  • Allergies & Health
  • Air Conditioning System

L.A. Air Quality

Before opening windows and doors in your home, we recommend checking the outside air quality. Much like the weather, air quality can change day to day. Your local weather app will identify the day’s air quality rating and is a helpful tool when determining when to freshen up your home with outdoor air.

Allergies & Health

Open windows and doors can help reduce build up indoor allergens, but outdoor pollutants can have negative health effects if breathed in. Each common outdoor pollutant in L.A. listed above can present a variety of negative health effects, specifically to the lungs. If someone in your home struggles with respiratory diseases, such as asthma, it is important to consider the current outdoor air quality and how the pollutants can affect their health. Below are immediate health effects of poor air quality.

  • Irritated eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sore/dry throat
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

Along with immediate health effects, poor air quality can present long-term health effects such as:

  • Respiratory diseases such as asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

We recommend investing in a beneficial air quality home device, such as an air purifier or UV lights, if you plan to open your windows or have poor air quality in general. Brody Pennell proudly offers a variety of helpful air quality devices with our indoor air quality services in Los Angeles and surrounding areas!

Air Conditioning System

It is important to consider your air conditioning system before opening your windows and doors to ventilate and freshen up your home. Your air conditioner works hard to meet and maintain your home’s thermostat setting. Open windows allow the cool air to exit and warm, outside air to enter. This creates a larger workload for your AC unit, because it will continuously run until it meets the thermostat setting (which will never happen with open windows). Simply put – open windows will lead to your air conditioner using more energy and possibly leading to a unit breakdown. Additionally, the more energy your system uses, the higher your monthly cooling costs. We recommend turning off your air conditioner before you plan on opening windows and doors in your home.

Along with your air conditioning unit, we recommend considering your air filters. As air pollutants enter your home, they can clog air filters quicker than normal. Be aware of this factor when planning when to change air filters around your home to maintain good indoor air quality!

While open windows and doors can present many benefits for your home and air quality, it can also result in poor air quality and health effects. We recommend considering these three important factors before deciding whether to ventilate and allow fresh air to circulate throughout your home this spring. For indoor air quality services or air conditioner needs, give the expert technicians at Brody Pennell a call!

About The Author

Brody Pennell

Since 1945, Brody Pennell Heating & Air Conditioning is the committed to helping homeowners in the greater Los Angeles area experience total home comfort. In 2021, the readers of the Los Angeles Times voted Brody Pennell the Best HVAC Company in the area.

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