TODAY   |  November 29, 2012

7 simple fixes to improve the air in your home

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the air inside our homes is one to five times more polluted than the air outdoors. TODAY contributor Lou Manfredini shares his tips for ensuring the air in your home is as clean as possible.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning on "today's healthy home," cleaning up the air indoors. the air in your home is one to five times more polluted, if you can believe it than the air outside. host of the syndicated show "house smart" is here with solutions. lou, good to see you.

>> good to see you.

>> how can that be true?

>> back in the '70s, we did exactly what the epa wanted us to do as home builders, we made houses more efficient. added insulation, made the windows much tighter, in an effort to conserve energy. and what we did was created these very tight homes. all of the volatile organic chemicals inside of our home, whether it's from furniture, the carpeting, the way we live our lives every day is now in that air.

>> what kind of stuff are we talking about in the air typically?

>> well, there's all kinds of chemicals in things like furniture. there's a recent story about furniture now having toxins from flame retardants in there. carpeting, the paint that's on the walls, all of these things add to the poor indoor air quality . and what we don't do in our homes is get enough fresh air . number one tip, willie , open up the window.

>> basic one.

>> i realize in the midwest or the northeast this time of year it's tough to do. however, there are ways within your heating system that you can actually have them pipe in a fresh air intake through the system that's constantly bringing fresh air . but if you live in a warmer climate, this is easy stuff.

>> leave the windows open.

>> leave the windows open.

>> we heard about furnace filters, but you say there's a particular kind to get.

>> everyone defaults to the 99 cent blue ones, this is a filter that is what they call a pleated filter. it will be ten times more efficient at trapping the particles that flow through the home than just that basic blue one which is really only there to protect the blower motor.

>> what does this cost?

>> anywhere from $18 to $25, lasts three months. it really is one of the biggest steps anybody can do themselves. slide it in, change it every three months.

>> air, humidifiers, air purifiers , which one?

>> you want things with high filtration, hepa filtration, a couple of models here. the trick with this, willie , they need to be on high and they need to be in rooms you keep the doors closed. the whole idea is i want to grab that air, put it through the filtration system and i want to clean it as it goes out. humidify occasion like this one here is making that air more comfortable. this actually helps to even lower your energy bills because in areas where it gets dry in the winter by adding humidity, you're more comfortable, you're not as scratchy and you can lower the temperature on your thermostat because the air holds the heat longer.

>> you can get some of these at a reasonable price.

>> yeah. this one here, this is $50. these air purifiers are in the $60 range.

>> you want us to change the way we think about cleaning, the products we use.

>> well, all about making sure you're not adding more chemicals in there. these green cleaners out there now, natural cleaners that are available aren't using harsh chemicals. they work really well whether it's laundry soap that -- this is a soda type, very efficient, works really well. this line of cleaners now all without harsh chemicals and you're not adding more airborne particulate. carpeting a is big thing. 70% of u.s. homes have wall-to-wall carpeting in them. we don't clean it enough. willie , carpeting is like a natural filter. it grabs stuff in the air, but now it's in that carpeting, kids are rolling around in it, your pets walk around in it. you can either buy a carpet cleaner like this, couple hundred bucks, rent one for $40 for the day. every four months you should be cleaning --

>> four months.

>> when was the last time?

>> not four months ago.

>> get on it.

>> a lot of us have heard the word radon, know it's bad, what do we do?

>> it's a radioactive gas everywhere in our environment and inside of our homes, this is a big issue for people. and now with real estate market, it can come in through a sum pump, cracks in the basement, windows itself. four parts per liter. this is a technical --

>> you're losing me.

>> give you an example, a cure is a measurement of radioactive decay . so if the earth was one cure, a pico cure is a speck of dust.

>> and we can monitor --

>> this is a home radon test. open up one of these, put it down there for 48 hours , registers the radon in there. if you have four parts per liter in there, then you need a radon remediation. this is something people can do themselves. this kit is $10, you can send it off to a lab for $30 analysis and then you'll know. you do all this and the air quality in your home, especially for the winter will be much cleaner.

>> good advice. thanks. good to see you.