We’ve made it through another winter season of visible inversion, but that shouldn’t mean our mission to cut down on carbon emissions is out of mind! Utah’s summer ozone is proof that our job isn’t done yet. The good news is that there are plenty of easy and affordable ways to reduce your summer emissions and keep the air clean in this beautiful state. For more information on summer ozone and how it affects our air quality, check out this Salt Lake Tribune article written by Thom Carter, executive director of the Utah Clean Air Partnership.
Recent studies show that people are spending 90 percent of their time indoors. While this may or may not be accurate here in this exceptionally beautiful state, we all have to retreat back into the comfort of our own homes at one time or another. It’s important to know how we can improve indoor air quality and reduce your summer emissions.
- VOC-free paint: Have you ever thought about the fumes from paint on your walls? Believe it or not, paint can decrease the quality of air in your house if it isn’t low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Thinking about repainting? Choose eco-friendly paint with low or no VOCs instead of standard paint, which includes carbon compounds that can vaporize and contribute to a number of health issues, from breathing problems and headaches, to kidney and liver damage.
- Changing your AC filter: The HVAC filter in your house is entirely responsible for the quality of the air you breathe indoors. The filter collects things like debris, pet fur, pollen and dust. Simply by doing its job, the filter will become clogged with particles that make it harder for the filter to clean the air. Your AC will continue to work harder than normal until you change the filter, increasing your home’s energy use and decreasing the quality of the air you’re breathing. It’s recommended that pet-owners, or those with allergies, change out their filters monthly or every other. Those without pets or allergies should change their filters every six months.
- Blackout curtains: Blackout curtains are a great investment for a handful of reasons. In addition to their main purpose of blocking out sunlight to keep your room extra dark in the mornings, blackout curtains are an added defense against extreme temperatures. Their ability to keep the cold out in the winter and the heat penetrating the windows in the summer will keep your energy bills lower and more consistent.
- LED lights: Here’s a bright idea! Using LED lights instead of traditional options can make a world of difference. LED light bulbs are 50 percent more energy efficient, making your bills cheaper. In addition to using half the energy, LED lights have a lifespan of 30,000 to 50,000 hours longer than traditional light bulbs and are more durable.
- EPA-certified cleaning products: Similar to low or no VOC paints, it’s important to choose cleaning products that are EPA certified and don’t contain VOCs in order to keep harmful chemicals out of the air you’re breathing. But it’s not only about what’s on the inside — packaging matters too! Choose products that are sold in reusable, recyclable or biodegradable packaging to reduce waste. Eco-friendly products and packaging often go hand-in-hand.
- Electric and hand-powered yard tools: There’s been a surge of electric and hand-powered yard tools in recent years due to a combination of the green movement and easy-to-use technology. Instead of investing in yard tools that run on gas and pollute our air, explore battery-powered options. Thanks to the continuously expanding technology industry, there are more environmentally-friendly options than ever before.