How to use Fall Weather to Improve the Health of Your Home

I am LOVING this fall weather SO much — it came a bit earlier for my neck of the woods this year.  And while I wasn’t quite ready to let go of swimming at the beach and the summer sun, it feels nice to have the windows open and feel the cool breeze for a change.  

I could live my life outside — pretty much no matter what season it is.  I have things I enjoy doing outside no matter what time of year it is. I love bringing the outside indoors too with open windows, flowers and plants.  There’s just nothing better than fresh air in my opinion.  

Fall is the perfect time to live with the windows wide open.  The drier weather and cooler temperatures are perfect for both the day and sleeping at night. It’s a great season to have in our beautiful world.

So it got me to thinking that there must be ways our house can benefit from fall weather too.  And like any season, I knew there were things that we need to be precautions about when it comes to our houses.

All rolled into one idea; our houses benefit so much from the typical fall climate.  A house that is cooler in temperature and dryer in climate is a healthy house. A home with lots of fresh air running through it is also a healthy house. These characteristics of fall are what we should model our homes after.

autumn home checklist and fall guide to creating a healthy indoor environment

WAYS TO MAKE YOUR HOUSE BENEFIT FROM FALL WEATHER

Open Windows:  Houses that are sealed up and rarely let in fresh air are homes that will also have higher concentrations of toxins.  This is especially true when it comes to radon if you live in an area with elevated levels.  

Other toxins that end up trapped in your home are from building materials used in your house as well as furniture and textiles.  Solvents and materials in these products off gas and infiltrate your home’s air.  

The simple act of opening the windows in your home will allow two things to happen.  First, it allows toxins to disperse outside rather than inside. Some of the toxins will still end up in the house, but allowing some to flow outside is beneficial.  The second thing that will happen is that the indoor air will become diluted with fresh outdoor air. 

Opening windows, even if for a small stretch of time is extremely beneficial to the health of our air at home.  And fall is a great time to do that as there is less humidity in the air and generally the temperatures are cool but not frigid. 

fall indoor air quality at home and opening windows to help improve your health

Run the Whole House Fan: If your home uses ducts and venting to move air around (as opposed to a boiler system), you have the opportunity to move air around in your house on a regular basis.  When the heat or cooling system is on, it moves hot or cold air around. However, in the fall, it’s a great time to turn off the furnace or air at your thermostat and simply use the fan option. 

This will help keep air moving and flowing without adding a lot to your energy consumption or bills.  

If you have a Nest thermostat, they don’t have an option where you can turn off the heat or air and use the fan, however, you can adjust the thermostat temperature so that neither the furnace nor air conditioner will turn on.  Then simply hit the “fan button” and choose how long you want to run it for. 

By circulating air through your house you allow the opportunity for the air pressure in the house to lower, which means your home won’t pull in toxins from underneath the foundation.  If you live in an area where Radon is prevalent, this is a great precaution to take. 

Moving air around your house will also help in terms of displacing concentrated levels of toxins.  When pairing the whole house fan with open windows or running vented fans, you’ll displace the toxins in your home outdoors.

Dry out Humid/Damp Areas: Fall is known for its crisp, cool, weather. This is so beneficial to the interior of your house, too.  The higher the humidity levels are in a home, the more problematic the interior air can be in terms of quality.

Ideally, humidity levels within a home should fall somewhere between 35% – 40%.  This is a level that keeps some moisture in the air so that you don’t have problems with skin dryness, electrostatic shock and natural woods in your home cracking.  This perfect level of humidity also means that your home isn’t too humid either.

A home with high levels of relative humidity often has issues with mold and mildew, which while naturally occurring, are in fact toxins. High humidity levels also create an environment that solvents, toxins and chemicals like to off-gas at higher rates than in a dryer climate.  

High levels of humidity also mean that some areas of your home may not dry out very often.  Places like bathrooms, laundry rooms, utility rooms and kitchens often have high levels of moisture in the air naturally.  In fact, just wet mopping your kitchen floor can increase your indoor humidity by 10% as the water evaporates and dries. 

Allowing areas of your home to fully dry will help reduce the risk of mold starting as well as help keep natural wood from expanding and becoming worn and weathered.

Use autumn weather to improve the indoor air inside your house (1)

Benefits of Cooler Temperatures: While I much prefer hot summer weather, fall is often a welcomed season.  Cooler temperatures are beneficial in so many ways to both our home environment and to our bodies. 

Cooler temperatures are often better for sleep, and so if you’re able to open the windows and let cool air in your bedroom, you may actually be able to improve your sleep.  

Another benefit of cooler temperatures inside your home is that toxins typically will off gas at a slower rate than with warm temperatures.  Toxins like formaldehyde off-gas at a higher rate when the air is warm and humid. Therefore, keeping your home cooler and drier will help reduce the amount of toxins in the air from our everyday products and home materials.

how cooler temperatures can affect the health of your home

PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE WITH YOUR HOME IN FALL AND AUTUMN

Critters & Bugs: With cooler temperatures outside and generally warmer temperatures inside, insects and rodents can make their way inside.  These little pests are looking for a warm home to keep them dry and safe during the winter. But we all know you don’t want it to be YOUR home.  

Sealing up any areas that may have holes or spots that seams are left gaping can help prevent any part of nature from coming into your home.  If you have kids, installing a self-closing hinge on doors can help keep the door closed, because you and I know kids are notorious for leaving those doors wide open.

You can check your home by simply walking around each side and scanning the siding, eaves and roofline for any sort of area that an animal or insect could squeeze into.  Then simply take an exterior grade silicone or gap filler and seal the area up.

Falling Leaves: Gorgeous leaves and fall colors are one of my favorite things about the season of autumn.  It’s so gorgeous to watch the trees gradually change from summery green to autumn red and gold.  But, the leaves eventually fall and that’s when the beauty becomes something to be precautions about. 

Leaves that end up falling into gutters can clog them and cause water to overflow next to the foundation of your home.  This might seem like no big deal, but if it happens time and time again, the moisture next to your foundation wall begins to rise.  If you live in an area where the ground freezes and thaws again, you’re foundation will be pushed and can eventually crack due to the expanding water. 

Keeping leaves out of gutters with either manual cleaning or gutter guards can help keep water flowing through the downspouts and safely away from your foundation.  

Another area to watch out for leaves that can accumulate and hold on to moisture is around your foundation, especially in window wells.

Keeping your foundation walls or concrete slab free of debris and foliage will help keep the ground around your house dry.  This will also help preserve the integrity of your foundation walls and your concrete.

homeowners' guide to fall

Dirty Filters from Open Windows: While open windows are AMAZING for your indoor air, it also means your letting in more dust, dirt and debris from the outdoors.  If you live in an area where home construction or road construction are prevalent, you might notice more fine dust around your house.

It also means that your filter in any of your HVAC units (air conditioners, furnaces, or whole house fans) will be catching a lot of dust and dirt.  Make sure to change or clean your filters depending on what kind you have. 

At our house we purchase a whole box at a time of filters so we can replace them anytime we need to without waiting for them to be delivered.  Nordic Pure has some of the best filters that are infused with carbon to help clean the air inside your home as well. Opt for a MERV 12 rating to help filter out not only larger particles but finer dust and dirt as well.

Preparing for Winter Temperatures: If you live in the Midwest, or another climate that gets cold temperatures over the winter months, you know that preparing for winter is no joke.  Often times we cover plants that need extra care, winterize outdoor plumbing and get our homes ready for the cold months ahead.

Making sure you take care of these things in the fall is a good idea to prevent problems that can arise from an unexpected turn in weather.  You can also prepare by making sure your winter supplies are stocked, such as shovels and sandwalk salt or sand.  

I have a fall checklist you can go through to help you prepare for the winter months in my Seasonal Maintenance Checklist to ensure nothing gets missed.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FALL CHECKLIST TO KEEP YOUR HOME HEALTHY AND FREE OF POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

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