There is nothing better than a balmy and gentle wind drifting through your home — a soft, fragrant breeze cutting through the stuffy, old air making everything feel crisp and clean. Makes you want to open a window right now, does it not?
What happens if you never open your windows? If you never open your windows, air can get stagnant, toxins and odors can build up, and structural damage to your home can occur. If you leave your windows closed, you are risking health issues from a lack of sunlight and indoor air pollutants. Proper ventilation helps to remove these toxins, and sunlight works as a natural disinfectant.
Complications from Unopened Windows
Several unpleasant things can happen when you leave your windows shut all of the time. One is that the air in your home can become stale or stagnant.
Chances are you have seen a body of stagnant water. Water that just sits there over time is disgusting. It is full of grime, bacteria, mold, and other nasty components.
Now imagine that is the air in your home. The only difference is you cannot always see the unpleasant things the air contains because it is invisible.
The toxins that build up in your home can be detrimental to your health, such as organic compounds, viruses, and bacteria. You may not be able to see these toxins, but they can have a significant impact on your life.
If you never open the windows, you can create even more issues in your home, for instance, weeping windows. Weeping windows happen when warm air meets cold air creating condensation.
Condensation can lead to structural problems and water damage around the windows.
Unopened windows increase the likelihood of mold in your home, especially if you use a humidifier. The humidity inside the house, in conjunction with a lack of fresh air, creates a perfect habitat for the growth of mold.
If you keep your windows closed, your home may also begin to smell. Many things can make your house stinky. Things like pets, food on the stove, and garbage can create an unpleasant smell.
Opening your windows can improve the smell of your house, and using fresh air to flush out the pollutants will make your home smell fresh and clean. Opening windows will help remove the odors of cooking, bacteria, pets, and garbage.
Why You Should Open a Window
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your home was always clean and fresh? Opening your windows can help you give the illusion of cleanliness since fresh air significantly increases the perception of spotlessness in your home.
If somebody walks into your house and it looks clean but smells terrible, they are going to assume your home is dirty.
Fresh air also helps to cultivate good bacteria, which is necessary to maintain a healthy body.
The word “bacteria” has gotten a bad reputation in our current society, and understandably so because certain types of bacteria are the cause of many serious diseases.
Some types of bacteria are not only good but essential. An example of good bacteria would be Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. This particular bacteria is a probiotic that aids your body in the prevention of Chron’s Disease (source).
Many people purchase probiotic supplements to help the digestive process in their bodies. Faecalibacterium prausnitzii bacteria is found occurring naturally in a clean and healthy home.
Opening windows helps to refresh the stale air that has been sitting for too long in your home.
Many people believe that their furnace and air conditioning systems pump new air into their homes. However, those systems simply re-circulate the stale air that is already in the house.
Condensation is another reason you want to open your windows.
Condensation builds up quickly in a sealed house when there are no windows or doors open for it to escape through. This condensation can make your home feel muggy and unpleasant.
Another benefit of opening your windows is to help filter in sunlight. Sunshine is a natural way of bleaching surfaces like blankets and pillows, so you do not always have to use harsh chemicals to clean them (source).
Sun bleaching is a naturally occurring process that we can all easily witness by placing fabric in direct sunlight since doing so will make the color of the fabric fade.
The Health Benefits of Opening a Window
People who breathe more fresh air are shown to have increasingly robust immune systems. The reason for this is that the oxygen provided aids your immune system in killing off microbes, infections, and germs.
This immune system boost means that someone who takes in more fresh air will be sick less frequently than if they breathe stale air all of the time.
Indoor air pollution can cause sensory irritation as well as irritation of the eyes and the upper airways.
Opening your windows will help to clear out those indoor pollutants and help you breathe easier. Unfortunately, contrary to what many might think, it will not help to reduce dust.
A lack of fresh air can trigger many different respiratory diseases. The body requires a high concentration of oxygen to fight off infections and chronic diseases.
Re-circulated indoor air will not provide the large doses of oxygen necessary to remain healthy.
Another big health concern that can be exacerbated by a lack of fresh air is asthma. Asthma is kept under control when the air is cold and dry (source).
On the other hand, humidity is the enemy of asthma. Still, if moving to a dry climate is not an option for you, a dehumidifier would be a fantastic idea in addition to opening your windows.
A lot of people might assume that the opening of windows would worsen allergies, but that is not the case. Indoor air pollutants can be detrimental to allergy sufferers, and letting fresh air sweep through your home helps to clear those out.
Several mental health benefits come from a good dose of fresh air. The increased oxygen flowing through your bloodstream helps improve cognition.
Oxygen in your brain is an essential factor in processing knowledge and understanding.
A blast of fresh air may potentially give you more energy. Oxygen and the smell of nature increase your energy levels and awareness, which in turn increases your productivity.
If you are ever feeling overly sleepy or unproductive, just take in a deep breath of fresh air.
Studies show that better air quality helps decrease the effects of depression (source). If depression is something you struggle with, you should seek to live where there is less pollution.
The air quality will always be higher in areas with a lower population and more green space.
If you live in a city, air quality improves the closer you are to green space (i.e., a city park), so living near a park or in a rural area is a practical option to reduce the effects of depression.
Doctors see similar results with anxiety disorders; the better the air quality is, the lower the anxiety. Overall, fresh air is a mood booster. Increased oxygen in your system boosts serotonin and elevates your state of mind.
Fresh air also enhances the quality of your sleep. The carbon dioxide balance in your home is improved when the windows have been opened, creating a more comfortable sleeping environment.
Having reduced carbon dioxide helps people sleep more soundly and wake up fewer times in the night.
When is the Best Time to Open Your Windows?
The specific time of day when it will best to open your windows will depend heavily on where you live. For instance, in the city, air pollution is more prominent during certain times of the day.
If you live in the city or suburbs, you might think that opening your windows early in the morning would be the most beneficial, but that is not the case.
Before 9:00 a.m., there are still a lot of air pollutants floating around, thanks to early morning commuters.
Therefore, the best time in the morning to let fresh air in is between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
If you prefer the afternoon air, the best time to have your windows open is between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. That way, you have circulated the air before commuters make their way home in the evening.
These times tend to have the best air quality of the entire day because there are fewer people on the roads.
If you live in a rural area, the air quality is most likely not impacted as much by pollutants. Sticking to specific times is less of a concern. However, one must keep in mind the time of year, as pollen is highly prevalent in rural areas.
Overall, it is best to circulate the air in your home at least twice a day. If the circulation is good, you can have your home aired out in as little as 15 minutes, but you can play it safe and leave them open for up to 30 minutes.
Indoor Air Pollutants
Indoor air pollutants consist of many things. One often thinks of dust and pollen when considering what constitutes low indoor air quality. However, the things we use daily will also impact the quality of air inside the home.
For example, everyday products such as air fresheners, paint, furnaces, dysfunctional stoves, furniture, cleaning products, pesticides, and tobacco smoke all impact indoor air quality.
Opening your windows every day can help to flush out the concentrations of these pollutants.
Other ideas to reduce the harmfulness of these pollutants would be to use non-toxic cleaning products, take shoes off at the front door, and use essential oils in place of chemical air fresheners.
Impact on Energy Use in the Home
Improving energy efficiency in your home can save you a lot of money on utilities, as well as benefit the environment. When done correctly, the regular opening of your windows can have a positive impact on energy use in your house.
In warmer climates, air conditioners are run with higher frequency, using a lot of energy. Opening your windows during the cooler evenings can decrease the use of air conditioning and have a positive impact across the board (source).
The number of open windows in relation to the size of your home will also significantly impact energy use.
In a smaller home, fewer windows need to be open. However, in a larger home, one needs to open more windows to be effective. If too few windows are open, the occupants will not feel the cooling impact, and the air conditioning would need to run (source).
In a climate that is not warm year-round, opening your windows at night during the summer can still be beneficial to your cooling costs. You can cut down the air conditioning run time in the summer by having your windows open all night.
On the opposite end, opening windows in the winter would decrease energy efficiency (source). Because of this, it is best to keep your windows open for only a short time in the winter to circulate fresh air and then close them for the rest of the day.
Generally speaking, humans prefer to have control of their indoor climate. As a result, many contractors are attempting to build energy-efficient homes (source).
They are trying to develop new strategies for natural ventilation without giving up heating or cooling efficiency.
There are many ways you can increase efficiency in your current home. Locate an environmentally conscious contractor in your area to discuss the many options that may be available to you.
Options for Improved Air Quality
There are so many ways to improve the air quality in your home, the easiest being opening your windows twice a day, every day. If you want the best possible air quality, here are a few ideas to improve your lifestyle.
For one, invest in an air filtration system. Air filters will take in the standing air in your home and filter out as much of the pollutants as possible. They do an excellent job of removing dust, pollen, and bacteria.
Keeping up on the maintenance of your home furnace is an important part of having healthy air quality. If you have a newer furnace, you should get it checked every other year.
If your furnace is older, make sure you check it every year. As furnaces age, they fail to filter properly and can add fumes to your indoor air.
Plants are fantastic for your indoor air quality. The process of photosynthesis creates brand new oxygen for our lungs.
Plants can take the carbon dioxide floating around our homes and make something breathable out of it. Plants can also remove other indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde from the air (source).
A large number of indoor air pollutants come from the kitchen. Both gas and electric stoves produce varying levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide so, when you are cooking, always use your kitchen vents.
Dust and bacteria accumulate on the surfaces of your home, and simply keeping up on cleaning can improve the air quality inside.
If you live in a humid climate, the buildup of moisture inside can lead to mold and mildew that can set off allergies and asthma. A dehumidifier will go a long way to preventing those issues.
Last, but probably most importantly, test for radon, a colorless and odorless gas that can significantly increase your risk of getting lung cancer.
Radon is a radioactive gas that infiltrates your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Though it is more common in older homes, it can be present in any house (source).
Once you have had your house tested, if the radon levels are too high, you can look into a radon mitigation system. A radon mitigation system uses a fan to pull air from the soil and expel it out of doors through a pipe.
Repairs to cracks and openings in the house’s foundation require a proper seal to prevent future problems with radon.
Open your windows daily, no matter the season. A short 15 to 30 minutes can significantly improve the air quality in your home, leading to a better overall quality of life. Open windows help you feel healthier, cleaner, and more productive.
Your health is essential and should be a priority. Fresh air can boost your immune system, mood, and sleep quality. It also reduces the presence of harmful bacteria, unpleasant smells, and mold.
When you have your windows open, be mindful of the season and levels of pollen in the air outside. Screens will not help reduce the amount of outdoor pollution that contributes to the dust we fight to eradicate within our homes.
If you never open your windows, you chance the build-up of toxins, weeping windows, mold growth, and other unfortunate occurrences. Not only is opening windows healthier, but it will also help prevent structural issues within the home.