Healthy Home |

Landscaping Tips for the Eco-Conscious Homeowner

2 minute read

Trying to keep up with the ins and outs of the latest trends in home and landscaping can be overwhelming. But the current popularity of environmental awareness/conservation is hopefully one that will be trending forever, because showing concern for the environment should never go out of style.

While there are endless ways to incorporate “green living” into your daily life, through the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and the cleaning products you use, we are going to focus on becoming more eco-friendly in your own backyard.

Eco-Conscious Landscaping Tips

Efficient Irrigation

Water conservation is one of the biggest ways to be mindful of the environment.

  • Install a sprinkler system to not only reduce the amount of water used, but to control the time and rate of application
  • Drip irrigation systems for garden beds grant longer but less frequent watering times to promote deep root growth and tolerance of droughts
  • Using your irrigation system in the morning or evening minimizes evaporation due to lower temperatures
  • Practice xeriscaping:
    • Place plants with similar watering needs together
    • Replace some of your grass with drought-resistant alternatives
      • Blue oat grass
      • Purple fountain grass
      • Yellow pampas grass

Lawn Care

The less grass you have, the more eco-friendly your yard will be.

  • Plant large flower beds
  • Utilize hardscapes to upgrade landscaping design
    • Boulders
    • Pavers
    •  Steppingstones
  • Install artificial grass to reduce water usage and avoid pesticides and fertilizers all together

Smart Planting

Choose plants that require the least amount of water and do your planting in the most strategically eco-conscious ways.

  • Plant perennials and grasses that don’t need a lot of water but still add a lot of dimension to your landscaping
  • Utilize ground cover plants:
    • Help prevent erosion by stabilizing sloping areas
    • Fill in spaces in flower beds to reduce weeds without any pesticides
  • Incorporate slopes and hillsides by making use of native shrubs, boulders, and rocks to enhance an otherwise challenging landscape design element
  • Nourish your soil with essential nutrients to ensure the best health for your plants:
    • Nitrogen – Leaf and stem growth
    • Phosphorus – Root growth
    • Potassium – Overall health
    • Plant and animal based organic fertilizers – Improve soil texture and condition
    • Compost and manure- Nourish the soil naturally

Reusable Materials

Reduce your waste by reusing.

  • Recycled content is remanufactured into landscaping materials:
    • Decorative glass for tiles and pavers
    • Milk jugs and soda bottles can be turned into composite decking and fencing
    • Crumb rubber can be ground and reconstituted for multiple purposes
  • Salvaged items are repurposed but used in their original form:
    • Bricks for patios or walkways
    • Pallets for vertical gardening
    • Lumber for raised beds, benches, gates, or fencing
  • Garden refuse can easily be transformed into some of the best eco-friendly landscaping materials:
    • Run trees through a chipper to make mulch for your walkways or garden beds
    • Plant debris, like leaves and grass clippings, can be composted into decayed organic matter
    • Work it into the soil or use it as mulch to amend your soil, add      nutrients, prevent erosion, and improve moisture retention

Sources:

https://www.easyturf.com/2017/04/25/creating-environmentally-friendly-landscape/

https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/eco-friendly-landscaping-ideas.php

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/recycled-landscaping-materials-21492.html

Environment |

Summer’s Most Common Bugs

2 minute read

When it comes to a love of humidity, humans and pests are on opposite ends of the spectrum. While we tend to despise air that is thick with heat and water vapor, most bugs actually thrive in it and need it to live.

Unfortunately, this means that the impending summer humidity in certain parts of the country is about to bring these summer pests out in a big way.

Summer’s Most Common Pests

Cockroaches

The German cockroach is the most common roach species infesting our homes in North America. They are attracted to warm and humid places, making your kitchen and the water heater in the basement their most frequented hideaways.

Silverfish

These small, wingless insects are nocturnal and need to keep their bodies moist at all times in order to survive. You are likely to find them beneath boxes or furniture in your basement, the shower, or hiding in your kitchen.

Centipedes

Carnivorous and nocturnal, with their 100 feet, these pests can move quickly and spend most of the day hiding in humid, secluded places. They are highly attracted to the moist, humid parts of the home because they need to rehydrate constantly in order to live.

Earwigs

Known to burrow into topsoil outside, these nocturnal bugs can also infiltrate dark and humid areas of your home. You are most likely to find them around floor drains, bathrooms, or under rugs or furniture.

Roly-Poly Bugs

Also known as pill bugs, sow bugs, potato bugs, or armadillo bugs, these bugs often infest damp basements.

Tips to Prevent/Eliminate Summer Pests:

Healthy Home |

Healthy Home Tips: Keeping a Clean Basement and Crawl Space

2 minute read

Basements and crawl spaces can have a certain…smell.

Mold and mildew are the likely culprits. There can also be damage and waste caused by pests like termites, rodents, and insects.

These issues are caused primarily by water leakage and excess humidity. Two signs of a poorly maintained basement or crawl space. And the worst part is, air that starts in the basement can flow throughout the entire home.

So how do you get rid of the smell to enjoy a Healthy Home? Let’s explore some best practices for your basement and crawl space.

Basement and Crawl Space Best Practices

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate

The basement or crawl space can be one of the largest sources of energy loss and increased utility bills in the home. It’s crucial that you insulate doors in those spaces, whether they enter directly into your home or connect to the outside.

Any pipes and ducts should be insulated as well. This will help regulate the air temperature in the basement and crawl space, which can help preserve a consistent environment throughout your home.

Identify Water Sources

Water seepage can spell disaster for your home. The mold and mildew can cause allergy symptoms and other health issues, and extensive water damage can even compromise structural integrity. Sitting water can also damage walls, floors, carpeting, woodwork, and furniture.

Basement waterproofing is the process of locating where water is entering your home and finding the best solutions to prevent it. Each case is different, but an experienced waterproofing specialist can help you decide on the best path for addressing the issues that are specific to your home. Most solutions involve one of four methods, or some combination of the four: interior, exterior, drainage, or sealant.

Consider a Dehumidifier

Basements and crawl spaces are often damp because of moisture present in the surrounding earth. It’s natural for this moisture to build up, and can often be solved by using a dehumidifier.

There are whole-home options available that are effective in the basement and beyond. Or you can install a room-size dehumidifier, which can remove moisture in problem areas. Consider the temperature and humidity level of your space, and where it’s located in your home when choosing the proper solution.

Is Sealing Necessary?

Sometimes the best solution is to seal off your basement and crawl space, preventing water seepage and dramatic temperature changes.

Crawl space encapsulation is the process of sealing off the walls and/or floors to prevent water seepage from the outside and to remove the risk of stale, humid air circulating throughout your home. Talk to a pro about this option to see if it’s right for your home.

Raise a Happy, Healthy Home
Breathe easy with the blueprints to a Healthy Home.

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Archive |

Answer the Call for Healthy Air

< 1 minute read

Aprilaire featured in the April issue of Home Builder Executive

Aprilaire was featured in the April 29, 2019 issue of Home Builder Executive. Click the image below to read the full article.

Healthy Clean Air |

6 Ways to Relieve Eye Irritation

2 minute read

Did you know that, according to the CDC, an estimated 45 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses? And yes, a majority of them experience spring and/or fall allergies with added eye irritation.

According to optometrist David Jones for vision insurance company VSP.com, contact lenses “function like sponges. They keep allergens in the eye, but they also prevent using medications you might want to apply.”

Here are a few tips you can try to relieve eye irritation from contact lenses as a result of your spring and fall allergies.

Don’t Rub Them!

Rubbing your itchy eyes often makes symptoms worse. You probably know this already if this isn’t your first run-in with spring or fall allergies, or if it’s not your first time wearing contacts. Resist the temptation!

Use Artificial Tears

Avoid over-the-counter redness relievers and opt for artificial tears instead. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Eye drops that are marketed as red eye relievers are actually decongestants. While decongestants make your eyes look less red, they can make your dry eye symptoms worse over time.”

Artificial tears, or lubricating eye drops, actually work to provide moisture and protection to your eyes.

Clean. Your. Contacts.

This is self-explanatory, but according to the CDC, “between 40-90% of contact lens wearers do not properly follow the care instructions for their lenses.”

Keeping your contacts clean helps keep them free from allergens. If you use disposable lenses, try to replace them more often during allergy season.

Opt for Eyeglasses

Since pollen tends to stick to contact lenses, don’t give them the option. Plus, eyeglasses act as an added shield between your eyes and the looming pollen, which increases the layer of protection.

See Your Eye Doctor

Your doctor can rule out any serious conditions and can prescribe the appropriate medical products for your level of eye irritation. At the end of the day, they can provide one-on-one assistance that pays dividends in the long run.

Turn on Your Air Purifier

An underrated solution to pollen allergies for those with contact lenses – indoors, at least – is to remove pollen from the air in the first place. If it’s not in the air, it’s not in your eyes.

Clean air is Healthy Air, pure and simple. Air purification acts as a natural remedy to seasonal allergies, not only supporting eye health…but also overall wellness.

Each home has different needs. For a whole-home air purifier solution, find a trained Aprilaire Healthy Air Professional near you to talk about the pollen in your home. For a case-by-case air purification solution, look into a room air purifier designed to remove up to 99.97% of allergens, including pollen, pet dander, mold spores, germs, and other airborne impurities.

Sources

 

Let’s Clear the Air
Clean air is Healthy Air, pure and simple.

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Healthy Clean Air | Wellness |

Fact or Fiction? Local Pollen Counts

2 minute read

Keep an Eye on Pollen Counts

Spring and fall allergies are a bummer. If you have a pollen allergy, you know how important it is to keep an eye on pollen counts all season long.

Like most allergies, a pollen allergy is simply your body is trying to protect you from a foreign substance. By keeping an eye on your local pollen count, you should be able to gauge how severe your symptoms might be, and therefore take the necessary preventative steps.

It’s kind of like being able to predict and alter the future.

You may be wondering though: how is my local pollen count measured, and is it even reliable?

What’s a Rotorod?

A rotorod measures your local pollen count. This device spins at a high rate to collect particles from the atmosphere, which can then be analyzed and measured.

Per the American Council on Science and Health: The sampling device uses silicone grease-coated clear rods that test the air on a schedule, usually over the course of 24 hours. The rods are then examined for the number of pollen grains covering the rod or portions of it. This count can then be converted into units of grains per cubic meter of air, and eventually into a calculated amount that makes sense to the general public: low, moderate, or high.

Who Tracks Pollen?

Secondly, as far as reliability, there are actually no government pollen trackers, only private companies.

In fact, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, anyone can become a pollen counter. All you have to do is pass an exam and earn a certification to be a pollen tracker.

Because of this, the majority of pollen counts available to the public only show trends and therefore aren’t 100% accurate. Still, some information is better than no information. Perhaps the best way to get a 100% accurate reading is to become a pollen counter yourself!

Tips to Proactively Alleviate Your Pollen Allergy

  • Opt into allergy alerts from Pollen.com to stay up to date on trending pollen activity in your area
  • Dust and clean your home often as you and your family are surely unknowingly tracking pollen into your home every day
  • Shower at night to wash pollen out of your hair and keep it off your bed, leading to a more restful night’s sleep
  • Ask a doctor about your allergies to rule out any underlying concerns that may not be the result of pollen
  • Use an air purifier to remove pollen as well as dust, mold spores, and other airborne pollutants from your air

Clean air is Healthy Air, pure and simple. Air purification acts as a natural remedy to spring and fall allergies. If it’s not in your air, it’s not in your lungs.

That said, each home has different needs. For a whole-home air purifier solution, find a trained professional near you to talk about the pollen in your home. For a case-by-case air purification solution, look into a room air purifier designed to remove up to 99.97% of allergens, including pollen, pet dander, mold spores, germs, and other airborne impurities.

Sources
https://www.acsh.org/news/2016/04/01/how-do-we-count-pollen-anyway
https://www.pollen.com/allergy/allergy-prevention
https://www.aaaai.org/global/nab-pollen-counts/counting-stations
https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/health-answers/not-all-pollen-counts-are-equal/

Let’s Clear the Air
Clean air is Healthy Air, pure and simple.

Learn More

Healthy Air | Wellness |

Healthy Air is Missing Cornerstone of Wellness

2 minute read

“Wellness” can be defined as optimizing both physical and mental health with nutrition, exercise, and sleep acting as crucial cornerstones. But there’s one missing wellness cornerstone that can help you perform at your peak: Healthy Air.

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Fortunately, an emphasis on Healthy Air is beginning to pick up. If you look in the right places (particularly on Instagram) you’ll see numerous people touting various essential oils as a way to diffuse Healthy Air into your home. It’s called aromatherapy, and it’s said to help treat both mental and physical conditions.

For example, breathing in:

  • Peppermint oils allegedly help physical health by boosting energy and aiding digestion
  • Lavender oils allegedly help mental health by acting as a stress reliever
  • Tea tree oils allegedly help physical health by fighting infections and boosting immunity
  • Chamomile oils allegedly help mental health by improving your mood and promoting relaxation

The problem is, essential oils aren’t regulated and can sometimes cause side effects like rashes or allergic reactions. It’s great that there’s an emphasis being placed on air quality. Unfortunately, there’s no proven record of any essential oils having actual health benefits.

However, there is a simpler solution that doesn’t fill your home with clouds of diffused mystery vapors: improving your overall Indoor Air Quality.

Healthy Air, Healthy Home

How does improving your overall Indoor Air Quality improve wellness? Let’s start with some basic facts. For one, indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, which is concerning considering we spend, on average, 90% of our time indoors.

Improving your Indoor Air Quality ties to wellness because it helps optimize both your physical and mental health.

Physically, Healthy Air helps you breathe easier. It reduces allergies and can help prevent respiratory conditions such as bronchitis or sinusitis, among others.

Mentally, Healthy Air helps you improve sleep and reduce stress, simply because you’re literally able to breathe.

How Can I Breathe Healthy Air in My Home?

Proper HumidityWhether you live in a dry or a humid climate, maintaining humidity is essential to wellness. Your humidity should be set between 30-50% year-round, which can reduce illness, eliminate pests, alleviate allergies, improve sleep, and lower stress levels.

Air Purification: Just one cubic foot of indoor air can contain more than 30 million pollutants, which can contribute to allergies and asthma. Clearing the air not only helps you feel better physically, it allows you to get deeper sleep, which can reduce stress. You may choose between a whole-home air purification system or a room air purifier. Both have their benefits, depending on the type of home you live in.

Fresh Air Ventilation: Think of everyone in your family blowing up a balloon and releasing its contents into your home over 20,000 times a day, every day. Since today’s homes are built so tightly, all the contents from those balloons could be wafting through your home each day with nowhere to go. Ventilation is key. It helps your house breathe, which in turn…helps you breathe.

Clean air is Healthy Air, pure and simple. It’s a crucial component to overall wellness, just like nutrition, exercise, and sleep. We can’t survive if we can’t breathe.