A recent survey of more than 2,000 Australians has highlighted the impact of humid conditions, poor ventilation, and a lack of awareness regarding air quality improvement on the immune systems of millions of Australians.
Commissioned by Daikin Australia, the research reveals that over half of Australians (52%) have experienced health issues such as respiratory problems, asthma, allergies, sleep disturbances, and headaches due to poor air quality in their homes. The study, titled 'Understanding indoor air quality in Australian homes,' surveyed respondents in May 2022. The findings show that 84% of Australians express some level of concern about indoor air quality, with 40% attributing their increased awareness and management of air quality to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dan Tosh, General Manager - Marketing & Ecommerce at Daikin Australia, explains, "Following the Black Summer Bushfires, the impact of COVID-19, and now the effects of La Niña, Daikin conducted this research to gain a better understanding of how Australians are addressing indoor air quality in their homes."
While many Australians understand the importance of good indoor air quality, the research reveals that simple choices and behaviors to improve air quality at home are often overlooked.
Indoor Air Quality Becomes a Concern for Australians
As we enter the colder months, the risk of poor air quality in our homes increases. Factors such as mold growth, dust mites, inadequate air circulation, increased indoor pet activity, and the type of heating used contribute to higher levels of pollution and allergens indoors.
For many Australians, managing the winter season requires a delicate balance of keeping the family warm and healthy without incurring high costs.
Nearly half (48%) of the surveyed Australians expressed concerns about the cost of heating their homes during winter. Choosing a cost-efficient heating system emerged as the top priority among respondents.
Surprisingly, selecting a home heating solution that improves air quality was considered the least important feature. In fact, one common action taken by respondents to improve air quality at home (59%) was to keep a window open at all times, a practice that may actually exacerbate the problem, warns Professor Sheryl van Nunen, spokesperson for the National Asthma Council Australia.
"Opening just one window can introduce more allergens, such as mold spores, pollution, pollen, and smoke into the air you breathe. Proper ventilation means cross ventilation, allowing air to enter and exit your house through front and back doors to have a meaningful impact," explains Professor van Nunen.
Utilising Technology for Improved Indoor Air
Professor van Nunen emphasises that while the symptoms of poor indoor air quality may initially seem mild, the cumulative effects, such as wheezing, nasal blockage, and poor sleep, can increase the likelihood of respiratory illnesses and worsen conditions like rhinitis or asthma. It can also impair safe task performance, including driving.
"The key to better air quality in homes during winter is to manage humidity and ensure that any ventilation improves the air you breathe rather than hindering it," advises Professor van Nunen.
She adds, "Humidity promotes mold growth and allows dust mites to thrive. It's important to choose heating systems that regulate temperature and reduce moisture levels in the air to create a healthier home environment this winter."
Look for the Blue Butterfly
The National Asthma Council Australia has introduced the Sensitive Choice program to help individuals identify asthma and allergy-friendly products and services that have undergone independent expert panel reviews.
Daikin systems equipped with Streamer Technology bear the Sensitive Choice blue butterfly symbol, including air purifiers, Alira X, and Zena models.
Laboratory tests have shown that Daikin's Streamer Technology can eliminate 99.9 % of mold and allergens within 24 hours and 99.6% of pollen within just two hours.
"Daikin's Streamer Technology is an active air purification system that enhances indoor air quality. It employs charged air particles to eliminate pollutants such as pollen, mold, and other allergens like dust mites from the air," explains Mr. Tosh.
Smart Tips for Maximising Air Conditioning Systems in Winter
According to Daikin's research, only one in ten Australians utilise their heating systems daily to maintain a consistent temperature at home, and only 14% use the dry and fan settings. Knowing how to use your system effectively to enhance comfort and health while keeping energy costs low is essential.
Here are some smart tips to maximise your air conditioning system during winter:
- If the humidity exceeds 70%, use the dry setting to remove moisture from the air and prevent mold growth, dust mites, and other allergens.
- Running your system in short bursts to save costs can actually result in higher expenses. Choose the warm setting on your system and set the temperature at 21-22 degrees Celsius to stay comfortable while keeping your bills lower.
- Turn on your system in the afternoon before temperatures drop too much. Starting with a colder environment requires more power and results in higher energy bills.
- Ensure your home is well-insulated to retain warmth. Use curtains and seals for windows and doors to prevent drafts from cooling down your home.
- Opt for a reverse-cycle system that includes built-in air purification to eliminate mold, pollen, bacteria, and viruses from the air.
By following these tips and utilising advanced technologies, Australians can enjoy improved indoor air quality and create healthier homes throughout the winter season.