21 Tips To Improve Air Quality In Your Home Office

Currently, my home office setup is in my bedroom. That’s a corner of the room filled with my personal PC, two work laptops and two external monitors. During the workday, I have all these devices on at the same time.

I also keep my door closed since I need it to be quiet for work and meetings. As you can imagine, the air quality in the room suffers during the daytime. This includes the temperature, humidity, and the overall airflow.

Here are the things that I found worked well for me to turn working with this setup into a pleasant and enjoyable experience.

1. Eliminate/Reduce Individual Sources Of Pollution

  • By far the most effective strategy is to remove or decrease the source of the pollution, contaminants, and irritants
  • Source control is also usually the most cost effective strategy to improve air quality in your home office
  • The priority should be to first eliminate common indoor pollutants including: mold, asbestos, secondhand smoke, carbon dioxide, etc.
  • Reduce or separate sources of extra heat from the workspace. If you have multiple devices running on your desk that you don’t use consider turning them off or placing them elsewhere in the house. This will help to control the temperature in your home office

2. Purchase An Air Quality Monitor

  • An air quality monitor measures the amounts of various gases in the air in the proximity of the sensor including oxygen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and other possibly dangerous gases
  • Some air quality monitors can also detect the presence of mold in the area
  • If you suffer from asthma or live in a high pollution area, an air quality monitor can tell when you should go outside
  • An air quality monitor can help you find sources of pollutants in the house or the ideal location to place air purifiers

3. Get A Pedestal Fan

  • A pedestal fan creates airflow in the room helping to displace stationary air throughout the house
  • The noise from the fan can be a great background white noise while you are working and can help tune out other sources of noises in the house
  • A pedestal fan helps you control the indoor temperature especially in the presence of heat generated from the computers you are using. It can also assist the cooling of the computers if you choose to direct the air towards them, letting the computers intake cooler air and allowing some of the heat to be displaced
  • Pedestal fans are great for spot cooling if you want to cool a particular area of the room
  • A pedestal fan can build up dust over time. It’s recommended to clean the fan every three months to further improve the air quality in the room

4. Install Efficient Window Blinds and Close Them

  • Depending on the time of the year, windows can generate a lot of heat in the room if not properly controlled by efficient blinds
  • The ideal color for blinds is white. White objects reflect heat better and tend to stay cooler than their black counterparts
  • A great blind will cover the entire window not allowing any spots for heat or light to enter the room from

5. Use A Humidifier

  • Humidity refers to the amount of water present in the air around us, low humidity means the air is dry and high humidity means the air is moist
  • The ideal humidity level is around 30% to 50%
  • A humidifier is essential in dry rooms and especially in the winter. If you are running multiple computers in the room during the day, the heat introduced by the computers rises to the top and escapes the house through infiltration. If it is being replaced by dry air such as in the winter time, the humidity in the room will decrease
  • Both low and high humidity is bad for computers. Low humidity increases the rate of electrostatic discharge which can fry the computer’s components. High humidity introduces moisture in the computer’s components
  • You don’t have to run a humidifier all the time. I only use mine during the night as it helps me sleep better and not get a dry nose during the night. You’ll have to see what works best for your situation
  • Check if your house has a central humidifier with the HVAC system as this will be an efficient way to control the humidity of the entire house at the same time

6. Open The Windows And Doors

  • When the outside temperature allows, opening windows and external doors improves your room’s ventilation by bringing fresh air into the house
  • Most home heating and cooling systems don’t automatically bring fresh air into the house. The process of infiltration, which is when air exits and enters the house through micro cracks in the structure, usually refreshes the air in the house slowly. Opening windows can greatly improve the process
  • Similarly, if the devices in your office generate a lot of heat, opening the door to the office will help bring fresh outside air inside and improve the air quality of the office
  • This is often times not feasible, such as in the winter, or when opening the door to the room introduces distractions from other household members

7. Set Up A Temperature Monitor

  • A temperature monitor gives you an indication of the current room temperature
  • Knowing the exact temperature of the room can help you know when to turn the fan on, open the door, etc.
  • The temperature monitor can tell you if the temperature is rising or falling before you body feels it. This allows you to control the temperature of the room before it gets uncomfortable and you have to endure some time of non ideal temperature

8. Purchase An Air Cleaner Or Purifier

  • An air purifier cleans the air of contaminants and improves the quality of the air that you breathe
  • When purchasing an air purifier or cleaner you need to make sure it cleans the air at a sufficient rate for the room. Otherwise you could be running the system for long periods of times without making a difference to the air quality
  • While a good air cleaner or purifier will help improve the quality of the air, your first line of action should be to remove the contaminants causing the poor air quality in the first place

9. Change The Filter Of Your HVAC System

  • Most home owners are already aware of this, but it is essential to change or clean the filter of your HVAC system regularly
  • The filter traps dust and debris and possible pollutants as the HVAC system functions. If the filter gets filled, it can clog your air flow. Eventually you will notice the effects of your heating or cooling being mitigated since the HVAC system can’t push the air through the filter
  • Having a clean air filter ensures that the larger sized dust and debris gets caught before it gets circulated around the house

10. Get The Air Ducts Cleaned (Including The Outside Ones)

  • Over time, the air ducts in your house can get filled with dirt, debris and even mold
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a guide on when you should get your air ducts cleaned
  • Having clean air ducts not only improves the air quality of the circulate air, but it also removes potential clogs and build ups in the ducts which generally improves the heating and cooling capability of the HVAC system. Cleaning the air ducts on time can potentially save you some money in heating and cooling costs in the long run

11. Get A Humidity Monitor

  • A humidity monitor tells you the exact humidity of the room
  • The ideal humidity level is around 30% to 50%
  • Both low and high humidity is bad for computers. Low humidity increases the rate of electrostatic discharge which can fry the computer’s components. High humidity introduces moisture in the computer’s components. A humidity monitor will help you keep the humidity in the correct range
  • If your humidity becomes too low, you need to turn on the humidifier, and if it becomes too high, you need to turn on the dehumidifier. Generally, depending on the time of the year, you will generally observe only one of these phenomenon

12. Clean The Dust Off Of And Inside Computers

  • Not only is dust buildup bad for the computer, but the computer can output the dust particles to the rooms air, degrading your air quality
  • Moreover, dust buildup compromises the cooling of the computer and will cause the overall temperature to increase. This can also effect the temperature of the office
  • It’s best to clean the computer and laptop fans, meshes and other surface of dust and debris regularly
  • Other devices in the room can also collect a lot of dirt and debris including the desk, monitors, and other furniture. Keeps these clean to ensure better air quality of the room

13. Remove Garbage And Food From The Room

  • If you have a habit of leaving food garbage or dishes in the office overnight you are adding undesirable smells to the room as well as attracting bugs that can lead to bigger issues down the road

14. Open Air Vents And Keep Them Unblocked

  • When air vents are closed, the ventilation to the room is decreased. Ventilation helps to dilute pollutants in the air so it’s best for overall air quality in the room to keep vents open
  • Similarly, placing furniture on top of vents can restrict the airflow coming into the room

15. Direct Air Vents To Center Of Room

  • In most houses, the air vents are placed along the edges of the room, next to the walls. This means that the heating/cooling and airflow will not be distributed evenly in the room and will take a little while to even out
  • An air vent deflector can help you to direct the air to the center of the room where it will induce better circulation of the existing air

16. Improve The Furniture Layout For Airflow

  • Bad furniture placement can restrict good airflow and effect the heating and cooling of the room making it uncomfortable
  • Keep large furniture at least 1 – 2 feet away from air ducts

17. Maintain Indoor Plants

  • Indoor plants will help clean the air of carbon dioxide as well as some other airborne toxins in the house
  • A study from NASA shows that plants can also help remove some cancer-causing substances from the air

18. Clean Office Regularly

  • Having a clean office not only make you feel better about working there, but you also remove dust and debris from the room making it better to breathe in
  • It’s best to use a microfiber towel to dust the furniture to ensure as much dust gets trapped

19. Get A Mat For The Office Entrance

  • Having a mat at the entrance helps you to remove dirt and debris on your shoes or feet before bringing it into the office
  • It’s a good idea to clean the mat on a regular basis

20. Turn On The Bathroom Exhaust

  • There are very few outlets of air in the house that directly remove air from the house. Bathroom and kitchen exhausts are the main mechanical systems that will direct air to the outside and prevent it from spreading throughout the house
  • When air is removed from the house, new air from the outside is brought in through infiltration or from open orifices such as windows and doors. This is a great way of cleaning the air in the house and replacing it with fresher air from outdoors

21. Increase Your Desk Size And Distance Your Devices

  • Instead of having your devices and electronics cluttered on a small desk and the hot air from them creating a hot spot in the room, increasing the size of the desk will allow you to spread out your stuff
  • This is mainly relevant if you have multiple computers running on your desk

The Bottom Line

The EPA recommends three basic strategies to improve air quality in your house. The most effective method is to directly remove the pollutants via source control. The next step is to improve the ventilation of the house by opening vents, windows, etc. Lastly, you can invest in an air cleaner or purifier to further purify the air quality.

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