Interest in energy conservation has resulted in modern construction techniques that produce tightly sealed buildings that are highly energy efficient. An unfortunate side effect of this increased energy efficiency is reduced indoor air quality.
Tightly sealed buildings often have inadequate ventilation, which lets fumes, particulates and other pollutants accumulate indoors. Mechanical ventilation systems can improve the quality of your indoor air, but you must be careful to ensure this type of ventilation does not cause energy loss that defeats the building’s tight seal. A highly efficient air cleaner that’s compatible with energy-efficient construction can be found in a surprising source: houseplants.
Think back to high school biology class and you may remember that plants are vitally important producers of oxygen. During photosynthesis, they use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. A study by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) also shows that certain types of houseplants can be effective air cleaners, removing airborne substances such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. These substances are commonly found in modern construction materials and can be released into indoor spaces where those materials have been used.
The NASA study examined 19 types of houseplants over a two-year span and discovered that each can be a highly efficient air cleaner in its own right. The soil and roots of the plants also played a significant role in removing pollutants. While some plants were better at removing certain kinds of pollutants than others, the study suggests that placing several houseplants throughout your indoor environment can result in significantly improved indoor air quality. An 1,800-square-foot house, for example, will be served well by 15 to 18 larger-sized, fast-growing plants.
Some of the more common houseplants recommended by the NASA study include:
- Spider plant
- Peace lily
- Chinese evergreen
- Weeping fig
- Bamboo palm
- Heartleaf philodendron
- Elephant ear philodendron
- Cornstalk dracaena
- Warneck dracaena
- English ivy
With more than three decades of experience in the HVAC industry, Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing is one of the top HVAC service providers in the Traverse City area. Contact us today for more information on how plants can serve as a highly efficient air cleaner for your indoor environment.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Traverse City, Michigan and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air cleaners and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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