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Home upgrades for better indoor air quality

With proper upgrades, adjustments and care, you can enjoy a home filled with fresh, healthy air and comfortable surroundings year-round.

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Photo by @grtshw from Unsplash.com

When most people think about air quality, they’re typically thinking about outdoor pollution. However, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air inside your home can be as polluted, or even more so, than the air outside. The concentrations of some indoor pollutants can be as much as 2-5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.

This is partly due to increasingly energy-efficient home construction and the growing use of synthetic materials in furnishings and interior finishes.

The air inside your home also contains pollutants from everyday activities like cooking, bathing and cleaning. A family of four can produce the equivalent of 22-30 pounds of moisture per day from normal activities, according to the Institute of Specialist Surveyors and Engineers, while household cleaners and products like paint, upholstery, carpeting and plastics can release chemicals containing volatile organic compounds. Pets and dust mites also contribute to poor air quality.

On average, people spend an estimated 90% of their time indoors, according to the EPA. All that time with minimal access to daylight and fresh air can take a toll on your health. For example, damp and moldy environments can increase the risk of developing asthma by up to 40%, according to research published by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics.

Particularly after all the extra time at home due to the pandemic, homeowners are placing greater emphasis on home design and habits that promote health and wellness. These steps for managing indoor air quality can help you create a healthier home.

Support your HVAC system

Many homeowners assume their heating and cooling (HVAC) system is adequate to manage their home’s indoor air quality. Typically, these systems only circulate existing indoor air, so you’re missing out on the benefits of circulating fresher, cleaner air.

What’s more, without regular servicing and frequent filter replacements, it’s easy for standard HVAC systems to fall short. This is especially true in older homes or in households where there’s a high volume of allergens like dust or pet dander. Adding standalone or integrated devices can help give your HVAC system some extra support. Air purifiers can effectively help filter pollutants while ultraviolet lights purify the air and help control pollutants like bacteria, mold and mildew.

Another common pitfall is humidity control. Too much moisture in the air can contribute to significant air quality problems. On the other hand, air that’s too dry can promote dusty, abrasive conditions that are hard on allergies and other respiratory conditions.

Improve fresh air ventilation

When it comes to upgrades that improve air quality, better fresh air ventilation is near the top of the list for many homeowners. Improved ventilation allows you to clear out stale, polluted indoor air and circulate fresh, outdoor air in your home.

Polluted air tends to stagnate at the ceiling, so one effective and energy-efficient way to create natural ventilation is with skylights that open. Sometimes called venting or operable skylights, when you open skylights in combination with vertical windows, you create natural airflow that can help release indoor air pollutants and bring in fresh, clean air to keep your home healthy and pleasant. This concept is known as the chimney effect. Warm air naturally rises and escapes from open skylights while fresh air is drawn inside through the windows. This practice can reduce your reliance on air conditioning, improving your home’s overall efficiency and keeping a lid on cooling costs.

Today’s skylights can also be automated to open and close at regular intervals or extend and retract shades to block light as needed. Many models, including those from Velux, can even connect to a smartphone app to combine convenience with a soothing mood booster that supports health and wellness.

Keep up with cleaning

Textiles like carpeting, rugs and window treatments can harbor a great deal of dust and dander that reduces air quality. It’s important to regularly clean and air out these decorative fabrics and surfaces, especially thick carpet that is likely to host dust mites and bacteria. Remember air quality while you’re cleaning, too, and opt for cleaning products with fewer chemicals. When possible, use microfiber cloths and natural materials like white vinegar and soap flakes.

Avoid adding to the problem

Burning a candle may make a room smell fresh and clean, but it’s doing little to help improve your air quality. In fact, you’re just masking unappealing odors while releasing harmful particles into the air. Similarly, smoking indoors traps those chemicals inside your home, which can wreak havoc on indoor air quality.

Watch for unexpected culprits

Many of the things that contribute to poor indoor air quality are obvious, but there are many others that may surprise you. For example, cooking food using gas appliances can emit hazardous chemicals and compounds, like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, that contribute to poor indoor climates when not properly ventilated. Homes with gas stoves contain 50-400% higher concentrations of nitrogen dioxide than those with electric stoves, according to a report from the Rocky Mountain Institute, and the EPA found prolonged exposure to the gas can lead to asthma and other respiratory issues.

Similarly, when plastics are warmed up, they can give off potentially toxic fumes. Avoid leaving toys or other plastic items in direct sunlight. If you have heated floors or other heated surfaces, keep plastic away to prevent those heat-provoked emissions.

With proper upgrades, adjustments and care, you can enjoy a home filled with fresh, healthy air and comfortable surroundings year-round.

Learn more at whyskylights.com.

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Home Care

7 Easy and affordable ways to make your home more eco-friendly

Here are some easy and affordable changes you can make right now to make your home and your lifestyle more environmentally friendly.

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The Philippines is one of the countries that is most vulnerable to climate change. Extreme rainfall and drought will affect availability of water and food; rising sea levels will flood coastal areas and dislocate millions of people.

However, simple acts done every day by millions of people can help reduce climate change. This is the principle behind the SM Green Movement—a collective effort among customers, communities, and partners to make “greener choices” that will protect people and the planet.

Here are some easy and affordable changes you can make right now to make your home and your lifestyle more environmentally friendly.

Unplug unused appliances

Appliances that are on standby or idle power mode can still use electricity. Be mindful of energy waste in your daily routine: for example, leaving a laptop plugged in even when it’s fully charged, or forgetting to turn off the coffee maker.  You can also use a power strip to group appliances—such as TV, gaming console, powered speakers—so you can turn them all off at the same time.

Invest in energy-efficient lightbulbs

Start by replacing five of your most commonly-used light fixtures with LED lights.

LED lights use from 75% to 90% less energy compared to a traditional bulb, and last 50 times longer than incandescent lights and 10 times longer than fluorescent lights. Since lighting typically accounts for 15% of a home’s average electricity use, switching to LED can also save you a lot of money!

Change the way you take a bath

A ten-minute shower can use up to 25 gallons (or almost 114 liters) of water. You can save water just by turning off the water while you soap and shampoo or using a pail and tabo. If you get a low-flow shower head, you lower water consumption by 40% or more. 

Think of greener ways to beat the heat

Air conditioners use a lot of electricity, and fluorocarbons that deplete the ozone layer. Inverter air conditioners use less energy, but it’s still important to minimize use. To keep your home cool, you can:

  • Get blackout curtains. The thick lining can block up to 99% of light and 100% of UV rays.
  • Get air coolers. These are fans that blow hot hair into a wet pad, so the water evaporates and cools the air. You can find some on SM online, and even more choices in the department store.
  • Use your fans creatively. Open the window and point fans towards it so it blows hot air out.

Adjust ceiling fan settings to counter clockwise, so it pulls hot air up and pushes cool air down.

Choose eco-friendly, sustainable products

Obviously it is always ideal to have the right tools to make homes more environmentally-friendly, and – fortunately – it is now easier and more convenient to find eco-friendly products. You have thousands of choices at SM Supermalls. Watsons has over 1,200 sustainable health & beauty products. Body Shop uses ethically-sourced ingredients, and has even switched to 100% recycled hair care bottles. Kultura has handmade products with natural or recycled materials—and you can find even more eco-friendly cooking and cleaning products in SM Home.   No time to compare products? Ask an SM personal shopper to do it for you, then either pick it up or have it delivered to your doorstep. 

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Home Care

Top tips for your remodeling project

Forget moving house! More homeowners are choosing to ‘stay put’ and enhance their homes instead.

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Photo by @rarchitecture_melbourne from Unsplash.com

Forget moving house! More homeowners are choosing to ‘stay put’ and enhance their homes instead, and the team from MAD Design USA, home of heating and furniture/accessories brands EcoSmart Fire, Heatscope Heaters and BLINDE Design, say now’s the perfect time for a revamp.

US Houzz & Home’s 2022 Renovation Trends report revealed that home renovation activity and spend in the US have reached their highest rates reported since 2018 – and this year more than half of homeowners (55%) plan to renovate while nearly half (46%) plan to decorate.

“The home renovation market is being driven by rising home prices and interest rates, global political and economic uncertainty, and a tight supply of homes for sale, so more people are choosing to remodel rather than relocate,” says Stephane Thomas, Director of MAD Design USA. “Contractors are also in short supply, and supply chain delays are causing materials shortages and higher costs, leading to many homeowners choosing DIY projects to remodel or expand, or to customize their indoor and outdoor spaces and make them more functional, comfortable and enjoyable.”

Here are 6 tips for a smoother DIY home renovation:

  1. Know what you want to achieve. “For example, create a multi-season outdoor oasis with  an EcoSmart Fire Pit or Fire Table, or a Heatscope electric radiant heater; or  ‘zhuzh’ up your alfresco or interior rooms with new furniture and accessories such as modular sofas, concrete coffee tables or planters,” says Stephane.
  2. Set a realistic budget for what you want to achieve. “There are ways to remodel that won’t break the bank,” Stephane remarks.
  3. Choose products that don’t require high material or labor costs (e.g., plumbing, electricity, structural work). It could help, of course, if you – yourself – have the right tools to remodel your property.
  4. Select companies that provide expert guidance. “It’s important to work with professionals who give great advice. Our team of experts assist with product selection to material sourcing, project reviews to ideas,” Stephane says.
  5. Know what you can DIY. “Rather than making structural changes to a home, MAD Design offers simple and versatile solutions to transform a home easily and without fuss,” says Stephane.
  6. Choose 0% finance through ‘remodel now, pay later’ programs, such as Affirm or Klarna. “You can get your products quickly and start your renovations sooner,” concludes Stephane. “Sign-up is faster, easier and more transparent than credit cards.”
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Home Care

How to choose the best bamboo cheese board for your kitchen

Are you in the market for a new bamboo cheese board? If so, you’re in luck! In this post, we will show you how to choose the best bamboo cheese board for your kitchen.

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Photo by Mgg Vitchakorn from Unsplash.com

Are you in the market for a new bamboo cheese board? If so, you’re in luck! In this post, we will show you how to choose the best bamboo cheese board for your kitchen. So, whether you’re a beginner or an expert when it comes to cheese boards, this blog post is for you!

Bamboo Cheese Boards’ Benefits

A bamboo cheese board is a popular choice for serving cheese and other appetizers. Bamboo cheese boards are environmentally friendly and sustainable. Bamboo is a grass that grows quickly and does not require pesticides or herbicides to thrive. Bamboo serving platters are also durable and can last for years with proper care.

Additionally, bamboo is a very lightweight material, so it’s easy to move around and doesn’t take up much space. They make a great addition to any kitchen or entertaining space.

So if you’re looking for an eco-friendly option, bamboo is the way to go!

Choosing Tips & Tricks

When choosing a bamboo cheese board for your kitchen, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • First, consider the size of the board. If you entertain often, you’ll want a larger board that can accommodate a variety of cheeses and other foods. But if you’re just looking for a small board for everyday use, a smaller size will suffice.

Extra Large Charcuterie Board from Royal Craft Wood. It includes 10-pieces cutlery set, 10 card holders, 3 ceramic bowls, 2 serving trays. Its dimensions are: 17.5 x 13 x 2.5 inches.

If you have a small kitchen, please, pay attention to the compact traditional Royal Craft Wood’s Bamboo Cheese Board.

  • Second, think about the shape of the board. Round boards are great for serving multiple people, while rectangular boards are better suited for slicing and serving one or two people.
  • Third, remember about special cheese knives, forks, bowls and other cutlery that will help you to deal with snacks. Some cheese platter boards are sold with everything important. Like this cute Cheese Board With Knives.
  • Lastly, consider the style of the board. If you want something that’s both functional and stylish, look for boards with interesting designs or detailing. For example: Rotating Cheese Board With Knives.

So, what’s the best bamboo cheese board for your kitchen? It really depends on your needs and preferences. If you need a little more functionality and like to entertain guests often, go for one of Royal Craft Wood’s plain boards. Thank you for reading!

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