Indoor Air Quality
Air quality is a common concern for Salt Lake City residents. While we have spent years collectively working to improve outdoor air quality, it’s becoming increasingly important to know what kind of air we’re breathing at home, at work, or at school. Between wildfire smoke in the summer, inversions sending us inside in the winter, and the impact of cooking and cleaning in the home, it’s important to understand and take action to improve the air we’re breathing inside.
10 Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality
1: Check your furnace filter.
- Make sure you’re changing it frequently—at least every 3 months, but more frequently during periods of high pollution – like inversions or during heavy wildfire smoke.
2: Purchase the highest-rated filter for your HVAC system.
- Higher-rated filters will capture as much as 85 percent of the smallest particles that make up air pollution compared to lower rated filters, which might only remove about 20 percent of these particles, or none at all.
- Most home furnaces can use what’s called “MERV” 10 or 11. Your HVAC system may even be able to use MERV-13.
- If you’re not sure, check your owner’s manual or talk with an HVAC specialist. It’s important not to over-tax your HVAC system.
3: Use a portable HEPA filter, or make your own! See video below for step by step instructions from our team.
4: Seal your windows and doors.
- You can use simple kits from hardware stores to make sure polluted—and cold—air is not getting inside.
- Having a tight seal not only keeps pollution out, but it helps your furnace work more efficiently.
5: Skip the wood burning—lighting fires is particularly bad for our outdoor air quality, but it also impacts pollution in your living space. If you’re going to burn wood, make sure your stove or fireplace is adequately ventilated, and make sure not to burn on Mandatory Action days.
6: Using flameless candles instead of real ones is also a festive and easy way to improve the air you breathe.
7: When cooking, especially when sautéing, frying, or using oil—make sure to always turn on your exhaust fan – or open a window.
- Cooking can create a surprisingly high amount of particulate matter—even higher than being outside on a polluted day.
8: Using gas stoves also releases an unhealthy level of nitrogen oxides. If you’re in the market for a new range, consider electric or induction.
9: Cleaning right can make a big difference!
- Make sure you’re using a HEPA filter with your vacuum and change it frequently.
- Dust, dirt and pet dander can also create particulate matter, so regularly cleaning your floors and surfaces with a wet mop or rag will also make a big difference.
10: Finally, use low-VOC products inside your home.
- Volatile Organic Compounds are in everything from paint to cleaners to air fresheners to hairspray.
- Go to the EPA Safer Choice website or look for that label when choosing cleaners and other products.
Build a DIY Air Purifier!
Salt Lake County’s Green and Healthy Homes initiative provides a checklist and resources for insuring your home is as healthy as possible. This includes checking for and preventing against indoor air contaminants.
Radon is an odorless and tasteless radioactive gas, and is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has compiled a list of resources for checking and removing radon from homes across the state.
This program from Dominion Energy helps you save money on your monthly gas bill! To start saving, schedule a customized Home Energy Plan visit with Dominion Energy to have an expert evaluate the energy efficiency of your home and help create your plan. This program also includes a $50 rebate for select models of smart thermostats.
This program from Rocky Mountain Power uses renewable energy stored in customer-owned battery systems. When you participate, your battery will be made available to Rocky Mountain Power to help manage energy on the electric grid. At the same time, your battery storage system may serve as back-up electricity to your home or business, in case you ever need it.
Watch this video to learn more:
Learn more about the importance of indoor air quality by watching these videos from the Indoor Air Quality Summit that Mayor Erin Mendenhall and the Sustainability Department hosted in August 2022.