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360Chestnut's blog aims to help our readers find the most cost effective home improvement solutions and trends that will help you save money and live better. 360Chestnut hopes to inspire you in taking the next step in making your home more energy efficient, more sustainable and healthier without having to break the bank. Save Energy. Save Money. Live Better with 360Chestnut.

Keep the Flu Out of Your Home

Posted on Wed, Jan 16, 2013

This article was written by Caroline Egan

Image courtesy Healthy Living

Here in Boston, we are experiencing one of the worst flu seasons in the past decade.  So at 360Chestnut we have started thinking about what you can do to prevent the flu. sneezing cold flu by foshydog resized 600

Over the course of the day, much of our time will be spent in places that are just brimming with viruses: work, school, the train or somewhere else equally as contaminated.  Not much we can do there other than making sure we wash our hands, get a flu shot and stay away from the sick guy in the next cubicle.  Our house, though, is a different story.  In our order to keep our homes sanctuaries, there are steps to be taken to keep them as germ free as possible.

The place to start is with cleanliness. If cleanliness is next to godliness, it is also imperative for good health. That means cold and flu season is also the right time for the major household cleaning you have been putting off. In real terms, all surfaces in your home should be disinfected regularly. Lysol is good, but more environmental- and kid-friendly products are even better. Be extra attentive to cabinet doors and handles, as these places often are forgotten.

A University of Virginia study found that some of the most often touched objects and places in the home—especially salt and pepper shakers, believe it or not—had of the highest concentrations of cold and flu viruses. Think of other places in your house—the refrigerator door, the buttons on your television, the dishwasher handle—that could use a good disinfecting.

Thinking longer-term means creating a home where indoor air is as free of germs and other toxins as possible.  Air quality matters, particularly during the winter when tightly closed windows and doors result in poor ventilation and trapped contaminants.

So how do you insure good—meaning healthy—indoor air?  The simplest step is changing your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) filters on a regular basis.  This is a job that should be done four times per yeara job that is so easy even a child could do it, as long as she is tall enough to reach.  Beyond that, specialty products like HEPA filters and Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems make it easy to get the bad stuff like germs out of your air, and keep the good stuff—namely, heat—in.

A HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, can prevent the spread of airborne bacterial and viral organisms, and therefore, infection. Good HEPA filters can be bought for anywhere from $40 to few hundred dollars, depending on size, and are extremely helpful to those with pre-existing allergies.  While more expensive, Heat Recovery Systems will not only clear the air but will also grab-back the heat that you paid to make before exhausting the germs and fumes you don’t want in your house. Here are some ways 360Chestnut recommends to improve and maintain indoor air quality.

For those homeowners who just can’t afford being stuck in bed for a week, any of these options is the place to start. If you are already stuck in bed, here's a Tumblr dedicated to that hilarious moment before one sneezes. In the embedded video below, 360Chestnut CEO Harold Simansky discusses keeping air clean in the room of a friend's newborn.