Healthy Home, Happy Home

Many homeowners don’t realize how much a typical home can allow dust, chemicals and other pollutants to enter from the outside, potentially affecting the people inside. With the current conditions in the world, homeowners are concerned now more than ever about improving the health of their homes.

Is your home healthy?

How quickly does your home get dusty? How long do odors persist inside? Are people sneezing or dealing with allergies? These are all important questions to ask yourself when determining the health of your home, says CR Herro, Vice President of Innovation at Meritage Homes. Dust and odors are signs that your house may not have an updated filtration and ventilation system or may not be sealed well.

“The components that go into conventional building practices can potentially have an influence on the occupant’s health,” says Herro. How those components work together to help keep your family healthy is part of what’s called building science. Basically, building science takes into account how the materials used to build the home improve its performance. Evidence shows that better building techniques can lower energy costs, help reduce carbon emissions and improve indoor air quality.

What defines a healthy home?

When it comes to finding a healthy home, there are three main categories to consider, says Herro:

  1. Ask about materials with antimicrobial and antiviral surfaces or surfaces that are easy to sanitize that can help reduce harmful exposure. These include copper, bamboo and quartz, as well as special coatings on doorknobs and countertops.
  2. Look for a home with good air-sealing and weather barrier insulation that can reduce the potential for allergens and toxins to come inside.
  3. Home designs that include managed filtration and ventilation systems can help reduce the amount of allergens and other particles brought into a home.

Meritage Homes includes standard features in its homes that are designed to address all three categories.

It all starts with an envelope

Houses like those built by Meritage use “a superior barrier throughout the walls and attics to drastically reduce the potential for outside pollutants to enter our homes,” says Herro. This barrier can be enhanced with efficient filtration, advanced sealing practices and a fresh air supply system. This greatly improves the indoor air quality compared to conventional construction practices.

These systems and practices help create a home with less dust. They also help to reduce the potential for chemicals, pesticides and mold spores to enter the house. “As part of our home commissioning, we test and validate this barrier is successful in reducing uncontrolled movement of outside air that could allow pollutants, allergens and other harmful substances into a home,” says Herro.

Additional steps homeowners can take

  1. Update your weather stripping to improve the air sealing of your home. Most air pollutants are coming in from the outside and gathering inside the home.
  2. Carefully read the labels of the chemicals in cleaning supplies and air fresheners. Many of the ingredients aren’t healthy.
  3. When you are cleaning, cooking and showering, actively use your ventilation.

Meritage is ahead of the curve

All builders have had access to practices that act to improve indoor air quality and provide more healthy homes. But Meritage Homes has been leading the healthy building program for over 10 years now, using dozens of advanced building practices specifically designed to help improve the health of its homes. “All our practices are based on the healthy materials, better filtration, sealing and filtered fresh air established within national standards such as the U.S. EPA’s Indoor airPLUS program,” says Herro. Indoor airPLUS requires construction practices and products that help to minimize exposure to outside pollutants and contaminants.

There’s been an increased awareness of the importance of these strategies that help keep you and your family members safe inside your home. So, if you’re concerned about keeping your home as healthy as possible, you need to look for homes built using these practices that create a healthier living space by reducing the entry of harmful pollutants, allergens and other substances inside.

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