With spring in full swing, many of us are starting to open the windows in our home. This warm weather habit not only allows more fresh air to come in, but also saves money! More open windows means a much lower A/C bill. Recent research reveals a surprising way opening windows in your house can work wonders in preventing bothersome headaches.
A 2021 study published in Atmosphere looked at how indoor air quality (IAQ) impacts employees who work remotely. Eight female academic staff members from the Texas A&M University School of Public Health from ages 23 to 67 participated.
The participants all lived in single-family homes with central air conditioning. No one living in those households smoked or worked with hazardous materials.
Researchers measured the IAQ within the offices and homes of participants before (May through July 2019) and during the pandemic (June through September 2020). In both periods, the authors also evaluated various health outcomes for participants such as headaches, dry eyes, and stuffy nose.
After collecting the data, researchers ultimately found that employees experienced the above symptoms more frequently when working from home during the pandemic than they had in the office.
The reason why? There were higher amounts of fine particle matter in their homes from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in everyday home items like air fresheners, carpet, and paint.
Commercial office buildings usually have better ventilation systems to filter out these pollutants and improve the IAQ. More sophisticated ventilation also helps eliminate any health risks that come from inhaling VOCs.
The study revealed that opening the windows and doors in your home is an effective way to get better IAQ within the space. This decreases your chances of experiencing headaches and other health symptoms, especially if you spend a lot of time indoors!
4 Tips for Opening the Windows and Doors In Your Home
To naturally ventilate your home correctly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers these four easy tips:
- Open more than one window or door, if possible. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk to children or other family members (e.g., risk of falling or triggering asthma symptoms).
- Ventilation can be further increased through cross-ventilation, by opening windows (or doors) at opposite sides of a home and keeping internal doors open.
- Opening the highest and lowest windows in a home at the same time (especially on different floors) can also help to increase ventilation.
- For double-hung windows (the most common type), opening the top sash of one window and the bottom sash of another also encourages ventilation. Even when using a single window, partially opening both the top and bottom sash can help improve ventilation.
“Caution: Avoid ventilation with outdoor air when outdoor air pollution is high or when it makes your home too cold, hot, or humid. Check AirNow for information about outdoor air pollution near you,” the EPA adds.
Who knew that letting some fresh air into your home will help to keep headaches at bay? It just goes to show that everyday habits can go a long way in maintaining our health!