A house can affect our health and our carbon footprint, so we’ve put together tips on how to live healthier.
- The health of one in five renters in England, or 1.9 million households, is being harmed by poor housing
- Everyday household products can irritate eyes or throat and cause health problems
- One of the biggest global health threats is climate change
We’re spending more time than ever at home, especially post pandemic as many of us adapt to blended working and our homes become more than just a roof over our heads. On average, we spend 90% of our time indoors and whether that’s spent working, sleeping, eating or relaxing, that’s a lot of time.
But did you know that the construction of your home, how it's heated or even how it's decorated could be harming you and the environment?
How can a home harm your health?
It’s no surprise that having problems with where you live can impact your mental health, whilst issues such as damp and cramped conditions can impact your physical health. It’s important to have a healthy, happy house to thrive in and here’s some pointers that you should consider…
- Affordable - In recent years, affordability problems have increased meaning that more people don’t have stable and secure homes. An affordable home means that an occupant has enough money left after paying rent or a mortgage to maintain their home, pay for utilities as well as being able to buy healthy meals.
- Accessible - A home needs to be able to provide for a household’s needs, this is especially important for people with disabilities. Space for all the family is important too, if you’ve got a little one on the way, you might need to think about making room so things don’t get too cramped
- Comfortable - A home should be a place where you feel safe and comfortable. Being without a safe, comfortable space to live can affect mental health, from increasing stress and anxiety to impacting people’s self-confidence. To help make your home feel more comfortable and safe, you could add security features such as an alarm, or declutter, whilst making sure your personal touches still shine through.
- Connectivity - Being connected to a community is hugely important for our mental and physical health. Living somewhere remote with poor transport links can be lonely and make it difficult to get a job that’s easily accessible.
As well as this, having a broad offer of community services such as community centres and gyms can support your self-care and wellbeing, whether you enjoy being independent or connecting with larger groups.
Air qualityThere’s a lot of pollution in the air that we breathe, and this pollution can also be in your home, with indoor air pollution being up to 3.5 times worse than outdoor air pollution. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to lung diseases like asthma, COPD and lung cancer, so it’s important to check your air quality and if it’s not great you should look to take action to improve it.
If you think it’s only harmful for those with underlying conditions, think again as anyone can be affected by indoor poor air quality, young children are particularly vulnerable to poor indoor air quality as their lungs are still developing.
The air quality in your home depends on a mixture of factors:
- Particular pollution: tiny particles of dust and dirt in the air, such as soot and dust mites
- Air temperature: how warm or cold the air around you is
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): harmful chemicals that evaporate at room temperature
- Gases in the air: such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulphur dioxide
Worried about the air quality in your home? If you want to test the air quality, there’s a wide range of monitors which will cost you around £50 - £200 that you can purchase from the highstreet or online. And if you do find out that the air quality is poor, all is not lost.
To improve air quality in your home you could:
- Open your windows, especially when showering and cooking
- Dry washing outside or in a tumble dryer, if it’s a rainy day make sure to hang it in a well-ventilated room
- Check for leaky taps and water damage to reduce humidity and prevent mould, unsure how to spot a leak? Check out our article on how to do just this…
- Plant ‘super plants’ like Cotoneaster Franchetii and Yew in your garden
- Why not consider reducing your carbon footprint whilst improving the air quality around your home by installing solar panels on the roof. Top tip: this will also help you insulate your home and reduce your energy usage… and who doesn’t want that right now!?
- And if these tips still don’t improve the air quality, try an air purifier which will remove harmful particles from the air.
Toxic everyday productsDid you know that a lot of household products we use every day can irritate eyes or throat and cause health problems? Yes, even those cleaning products with natural fragrances such as citrus, release VOCs. You’ll never look at your air fresheners, bleach, detergent and washing up liquid, furniture polish or oven cleaner the same knowing the amount of harmful pollution they can cause around your home and to the environment!
If you want to be more eco conscious be sure to use allergy friendly or chemical-free products as these have lower levels of VOCs and avoid using aerosol and spray cleaning products as gases and aerosols pollute the air.
Looking for homemade cleaning products? A cost-effective, healthier replacement for these products can be made with baking soda and vinegar. Olive oil also works great as furniture polish! For cleaning microwaves, you can simply pop a bowl of vinegar and lemon juice in for 2 minutes.
How to build your very own eco home…
In the past it was common for homes to be built with harmful materials such as lead - used for piping and even paint before it was discovered to be toxic and bad for our health, and not to mention asbestos that for years insulated homes across Britain. But as times change so do building materials and if you’re looking to create an eco home you should use non-toxic materials, paints and furnishings to reduce pollutants. Speak to an insulation specialist to check if you have eco insulation or to find out how to have it installed.
To save money and the planet, you should also make sure your home is well insulated. Did you know that a loft insulation could save you up to £590 a year, a cavity wall insulation £690 and floor insulation £180! It’s worth Investing in good quality windows too to prevent leakage and help keep heat in too.
Natural insulation materials such as wool, wood fibre and blue jean are becoming more and more popular - thanks to their environmental, health and warmth benefits! These recycled materials can easily absorb and release moisture, without containing any nasty chemicals or VOCs like dreaded asbestos.
That ‘ughhhh’ feeling when the days start to get darker is real. It’s even been proven that living in a dark home worsens your health by 50%! We need natural light not only for our mental health, but also to ward off mould and dampness within our homes. Installing roof lighting is a great way to get lots of natural light into your home at various points of the day. If you want to go the extra mile, you could always invest in a SAD lamp, the light produced by the light box simulates the sunlight that's missing during the darker winter months and is thought to encourage the brain to reduce the production of melatonin a hormone that makes you sleepy and increase the production of serotonin, a hormone that affects your mood.
As we now know, living more sustainably can positively impact our health. In an eco home, there’s no room for inefficient and unsustainable household appliances! That kettle you’ve been clinging on to for years takes more energy to boil than a new, more efficient kettle, polluting our air… and it’s certainly not helping your bank account either - something we all know can cause great strain on our mental health. But deteriorating appliances could also be harming your health in other ways. That old gas oven that’s showing a few signs of wear and tear could be pumping harmful gases into your home, and the fridge which isn’t quite as cold as it used to be 20 years ago could be letting harmful bacteria live amongst your food. It’s important to regularly monitor your appliances for wear and tear, and safely dispose of them at a recycling centre if it’s time for them to go.
Currently, buildings and construction account for 36% of global energy use. By building and creating more environmentally-friendly houses, we’ll not only help the planet, but also improve our health and reduce financial stress in the long term. So, if you’re planning on building an eco home, or even if you've just got a plain old home, make sure your insurance is up to date with LV!
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