Smart home week: 5 ways to make sure you’re breathing better air

In partnership with Airthings: Because you only get one pair of lungs

In partnership with Airthings

Unless there’s a cloud hanging in the air and you’re struggling to see the telly through the murk, it can be difficult to tell how clean the air in your gaff is.

That’s the thing about air, you see, it tends to be invisible. In fact, indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than what’s outside, but what can you do to keep tabs on what’s floating around in your domestic ether if you can’t see it?

There are now a whole range of indoor air quality monitors available that can pick up on all kinds of nasties that are lingering between your four walls and arm you with the necessary information to do something about them.

With so much of our time currently spent indoors that’s never been more important, so here’s how adding one to your smart home setup could help you to make sure you’re breathing better air.

1. Vanish those VOCs

If you’re looking for an excuse to put down the cleaning products and return your backside to the sofa, here’s one for you: cleaners, polishes and detergents all give off airborne chemicals called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

Before you chuck the whole lot in the bin and embrace a naturally mucky existence, VOCs can also come from paints, perfumes, air fresheners, glues, scented candles, fireplaces, cooking, new furniture and even children’s toys, so escaping them isn’t as easy as that.

In the short term VOCs can make you cough, itch and give you a headache, but they can have much more serious effects if left unchecked, including kidney and liver damage, and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Having an air-quality monitor that’s able to pick up on them could literally be the difference between life and death.

2. Get rid of radon

Radon might sound like the final boss from an unreleased Mortal Kombat game, but unless your name’s Sub-Zero, Johnny Cage or Liu Kang it’s potentially more dangerous than that.

As a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that’s released from the rocks and soil underneath our homes, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers – and modern, well-insulated buildings can cause it to build up.

Children are up to 10 times more sensitive to its effects, and while good ventilation should be enough to stop it from becoming a problem, choosing an air-quality monitor that can measure it will give you that extra peace of mind.

3. Manage the mould

Cranking your heating up doesn’t just send your energy bills through the roof, it can also cause dry, itchy skin and make you more susceptible to illness – but the opposite can be a big problem too.

High humidity creates the perfect breeding ground for mould, which is prone to growing in cold, poorly ventilated areas such as bathrooms, behind furniture and on windowsills.

Using temperature and humidity sensors it’s possible to predict whether a particular room is at risk of mould, and Airthings’ Wave Mini uses a special algorithm to do exactly that, with a traffic light system to show how worried you should be about finding something nasty making its home in the corner. Because you know what they say: prevention is better than cure.

4. Monitor multiple rooms

Most air quality monitors will only be able to tell you what’s floating around in their immediate vicinity, which is fine if you live in a yurt, but not if you’ve got multiple rooms with different levels of ventilation in each one.

Of course, you could buy entirely separate ones for the bathroom, bedroom and nursery, but the Airthings House Kit offers a more joined-up approach.

The Wave Mini has sensors to measure temperature, humidity and VOCs, plus it can warn you if there’s a high risk of mould growing where you place it.

The House Kit comes with one Mini included, but you can add more to your system if required.

5. Get everything connected

It’s all very well knowing what the air quality in your abode is like, but the important thing is doing something about it if required – and if you can automate the process that’s even better.

Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT allow you to get separate smart home products talking to each other, so you can set the heating, humidifier or purifier to crank into action if your air-quality readings hit a certain level. You’ll be the envy of the whole cul-de-sac.

For more information about the Airthings House Kit visit airthings.com.