Did you know that Australians spend up to 90% of their time indoors?
It's a surprising statistic.
And unfortunately for us, the indoor environment can be incredibly polluted. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), toxic sealants, dust allergens, mould, and poor ventilation can all negatively impact health in the long term.
Thankfully, it’s not all bad news. It’s now easier and more affordable than ever to take steps to ensure that the environment inside your home is happy and healthy.
We've put together this essential 20 point checklist. The tips and tricks outlined here are standard inclusions in every Architopia house design, but you can also apply this advice to your existing home - new or old.
But first, we need to talk about VOCs!
Volatile organic compounds.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals containing carbon that evaporate into the atmosphere at room temperature. VOCs are present in a wide range of household products, construction materials and new furnishings, including paints, varnishes, adhesives, synthetic fabrics, cleaning agents, and more.
In short, they're in most new synthetic products and they're really bad for you.
There are a few simple steps that you can take which will dramatically reduce the levels of VOCs in your home - read on.
20 tips for a healthier home:
- If you're building a new home, consider exposed concrete floors. Concrete floors are quicker and easier to clean, dramatically reducing house dust mite allergens.
- Avoid composite furniture (MDF, ply etc) and opt for furniture made from natural materials such as wood with non-toxic finishes.
- Where possible, use low VOC or zero VOC wall and ceiling paints (readily available from all good hardware shops and tradespersons).
- Choose rugs and soft furnishing that are free from VOC synthetic fibres.
- Place indoor plants throughout your home. Indoor plants contain micro-organisms that may help reduce levels of VOCs.
- Kitchen joinery in most new homes is made of MDF which has high levels of VOCs. For an affordable alternative, choose joinery made from E1 and E0 MDF which are low VOC emitters.
- 2-Pac (a paint finish often applied to kitchen joinery) is also available in a low VOC variant. Check with your kitchen supplier.
- Instead of finishing timber bench tops with toxic sealants, consider finishing them with a food safe natural oil such as ‘tung oil’.
- If using wallpaper, choose PVC free paper - preferably FSC certified paper with non-toxic pigments and solvent free, starch based wallpaper paste.
- Minimise the use of incense, scented candles, and air fresheners. Most scented products release VOCs into the air.
- If you have a wood heater, make sure it has a high burn efficiency (86%+) and is well sealed and maintained.
- In bathrooms, well positioned exhaust fans & proper ventilation helps control humidity reducing mould spore production. Always use the exhaust fan and ventilate well after showers to quickly evacuate excess humidity and avoid mould growth.
- Ensure that your kitchen exhaust fan is externally ducted. This stops recycling dirty air back into your kitchen.
- Open windows multiple times a day to renew air within the house.
- If you have pets, consider choosing non-porous floors such as exposed concrete or timber as it makes pet dander easier to see and clean.
- Avoid cleaning products with harmful chemicals.
- Concrete floors don't require toxic sealants and are VOC free after 5 days.
- Induction cooktops are easy to clean, energy efficient, very safe, and extremely responsive to use. And unlike gas cooktops, induction reduces the production of toxic pollutants by up to 50%.
- Vacuum cleaners with a HEPA filter stop dust from spreading back into the room.
- If you use a tumble dryer, opt for a heat pump dryer. Not only are they more energy efficient, but they capture moisture during the drying process which reduces humidity and stops mould growth.
With every Architopia purchase, you'll receive comprehensive architectural plans, specifications, and more. Click here to see our full list of inclusions.
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