5 Environmental Factors That Affect the Comfort and Health of a Home’s Occupants

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Heather Jones
Heather Jones
I'm Heather, an author passionate about home improvements. My writing is your guide to making homes better. Let's explore easy ways to enhance your living spaces, from small fixes to exciting projects. Join me on a journey of making your house a cozy and stylish haven.

When you purchase or build a home, you rely on it to provide comfort — to be somewhere you can feel safe and invest in your hopes, dreams, and wishes. And more importantly, it should be a place where we can remain happy and healthy. Indeed, the sanctuary that homes provide may be something that people take for granted during these unprecedented times, when the world is gripped by a global pandemic.

Since it’s safe to say that many of us will be spending more time at home, it makes sense to invest in several home improvement projects to elevate our quality of life at home.

In this guide, we will cover five environmental components that contribute to indoor home comfort to help you understand how they work and to allow you to apply the necessary changes your home might need.

Air Temperature

There’s enough evidence to suggest that air temperature affects people in different ways. Research involving working environments shows that people who work at uncomfortable temperatures have lower performance levels compared to those who don’t. The lack of thermal comfort has also been linked to mood swings and aggressive behavior.

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There is a surprisingly narrow range of temperatures that people can tolerate. While the exact range varies for each individual, findings reveal that many people are most comfortable at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but other factors such as home insulation and the person’s clothing should also be considered.

To properly insulate your home for thermal comfort, find out which Climate Zone you’re in and the recommended R-value for the part of the house you wish to insulate. For instance, if you live within Climate Zone 3, choosing R21 insulation for your floor and R30 insulation for your attic should help to control heat transfer while also reducing your HVAC system’s workload.

Radiant Temperature

Heat transfer can also occur through electromagnetic waves. This is the type of heat you feel emanating from hot objects such as lighting fixtures, home heating units, and even the sun. Aside from air temperature, people are also greatly affected by mean radiant temperature (MRT). Using an HVAC system that measures and regulates MRT can go a long way to achieving thermal comfort for your home. These radiant cooling and heating systems can’t directly affect the temperature of the air, so they’re best used in conjunction with other systems that can control ventilation and improve indoor air quality (IAQ).

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Humidity

The air that we breathe in has molecules of water. The more water is in the air, the more humid it becomes, and this can lead to a rise in our body temperature. When you sweat in a humid environment, the sweat can’t evaporate as quickly, which in turn prevents the body from cooling down and instead retains heat. This can lead to a feeling of stickiness and discomfort, and ir can even cause even bad odor. 

Humidity can also be a threat to your well-being as it can encourage the growth of fungus and even attract pests. Adding ventilation, turning up the AC, or simply cleaning the gutters and downspouts can prevent excess humidity.

Air Velocity

Another environmental factor that can affect thermal comfort is the velocity of air. Greater air velocities can result in a greater heat exchange between the people in an enclosed space and the air around them. But there are instances where a higher air velocity is beneficial. Turning on a ceiling fan during a hot day, for example, can help the body lose more heat to its surroundings and prevent sweating and discomfort. Under other circumstances, such as during colder conditions, higher air velocities may be caused by a draft and can be counterproductive to your home heating efforts. 

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Pests

Homes that have a pest problem are more likely to experience some kind of damage and deterioration. When cockroaches, termites, and rodents aren’t dealt with right away, they can cause a variety of problems to your home’s HVAC system and eventually affect indoor air quality. This can be detrimental to your family’s safety and well-being.

Pests can carry diseases and allergens that will flow through your HVAC system, spreading these particles to the air. And when a larger pest dies, such as a rodent, the bad smell can stay for as long as several weeks if the corpse isn’t found and removed.

Termites, on the other hand, may not carry diseases that are harmful to people, but they can shed and produce dust and droppings that may cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Your heating and ventilation can contribute to the spread of these irritating particles, which can negatively affect your quality of life at home.

Takeaway

Maintaining a comfortable home environment is vital to maintaining your family’s good health and happy disposition. If possible, your home system should make it easier for you to control how the environment feels. Aside from keeping your home pest-free, you should invest in good insulation, an air filtration equipment, and a thermostat with humidity control so you can create your ideal living spaces. Not only will your family reap the benefits, but the house itself will be in a much better state.

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