Health In The Home
Health and hygiene might not be obvious points to consider when thinking about making improvements to your home but your living conditions can have a massive impact on your physical and mental health.
If your home is at risk of cold, damp and mould then this can affect your respiratory health. A cold home can also affect circulatory conditions. Soft furnishings, unregulated temperatures and humidity, damp and mould can make allergies and skin conditions worse. A bad room layout that doesn’t flow, poor room functionality or an unaesthetic living environment can cause stress/anxiety/depression which over time can manifest itself as physical and/or mental health problems.
How To Prevent Damp & Mould
Damp and mould are some of the main housing-related risk factors that affects respiratory conditions, such as breathing problems, asthma or bronchitis.
Damp can be caused by condensation, rising damp coming up from the ground, a missing roof tile, leaking window frame/chimney stack, blocked gutter, leaking pipes, wastes or overflows etc.
If you’ve had problems with damp previously, then it’s important to find out the root cause of the issue so that you can make repairs/put preventative measures in place.
Condensation is the most common form of damp and is caused by warm, humid air hitting cold surfaces. To prevent condensation, ensure kitchens and bathrooms have adequate ventilation, your home is well insulated, draught free and has an efficient heating system so that the walls/surfaces in your home don’t get cold enough to create condensation. If possible, don’t hang clothes to dry indoors but if this isn’t an option, consider installing a dehumidifier nearby to remove the excess moisture from the air.
If the damp is caused by rising damp then you may require the services of a qualified surveyor to take a moisture reading of your home, identify the cause of the problem and advise on an appropriate course of action. It may be that you require a new damp-proof course which involves injecting the walls with chemicals to create a water-repellent barrier.
Penetrating damp (damp caused by a missing roof tile, leaking window frame/chimney stack, blocked gutter, leaking pipes etc.) can be resolved by making repairs where required.
Living With Allergies & Skin Conditions
The main housing-risk factors that affect allergies and skin conditions are; dust mites, damp and mould, infestations, soft furnishing, cleaning, unregulated temperatures and humidity.
The most effective ways to improve your living environment are:
- Avoid and reduce your contact with allergens
For flooring surfaces, you’ll want to use materials which are non-porous, cannot be penetrated by dust mites, pollen or pet hair and are easy to clean. Consider ceramic/porcelain tiling, engineered wood, laminate or linoleum for floor surfaces (with underfloor heating if required). Avoid using carpets, porous tiling materials (such as natural stone) and uneven floors with cracks/crevices which can allow dirt and dust to collect.
When choosing furniture for allergy sufferers, leather and vinyl are the best choices as they can be easily cleaned. Opt for a design where the base is raised on legs and does not sit on the floor – this prevents dust and mould from accumulating underneath.
Avoid using curtains – especially heavy, full length designs. There are a huge variety of types of blinds and shutters that you can choose from but if you do decide to use curtains, choose ones that can be easily removed and washed to get rid of any dust that may settle on them.
- Use air purifiers
Air cleaners can help to improve ventilation, filter out outdoor allergens whilst also reducing air humidity which decreases dust mites and mould growth.
3. General Steps to control indoor allergens
- Keep surfaces in your home clean and uncluttered
- Vacuum once or twice a week using an anti-allergy vacuum with a high quality filtration system, such as a HEPA filter
- Wash throws, rugs and curtains regularly if you use them
- Use allergen-resistant covers on your pillows, mattresses and box springs
- Wash bedding, uncovered pillows and stuffed toys in hot water regularly. Dry them in a hot dryer cycle to kill dust mites
- Take measures to prevent damp and avoid mould spores
Improving Hygiene In The Home
If you’re extending or making changes to the layout of your home, you’ll need to take into consideration the hygiene implications – especially in bathrooms and kitchens. For example, if you’re thinking about adding a downstairs toilet, is there space to include a sink for handwashing? If not, you will need to install hand washing facilities in an area that’s not used for preparing food.
If you’re refitting your kitchen, is there adequate space for food storage and food preparation to avoid contamination? Will there be enough storage space for kitchen appliances/cooking equipment to avoid cluttering so that work surfaces are easier to keep clean?
One relatively simple way to improve the hygiene of your home is to install antibacterial and antimicrobial window and door handles. These contain silver ions in their coating, which provide protection against the spread of germs and bacteria.
Biometric devices are available which allow you to unlock doors using facial recognition. However, they don’t necessarily remove the need to use the door handle so aren’t worth investing in as a hygiene measure. Additionally, they’re still in the early stages of development so are a potential security risk.
A lot of us are spending more time than ever in our homes so it’s important to try and ensure that our surroundings aren’t negatively impacting our mental health.
If you’re thinking about extending or renovating your home, it may be a good idea to hire an architect to help with the design and planning. A good architect should be able take your ideas and requirements for your home and create sketches to show sometimes five or six options if it’s not entirely clear how you want to achieve your goal.
Architects are highly trained and may be able to see possibilities or take factors into consideration that you haven’t thought of – the direction of the sun, the direction of the best views, ensuring you’re making the best of the space you have, the flow of the rooms works etc. They’re also adept at noticing the smaller details that you may not have taken into consideration – which way should the door open? Are the electrical points in the right places?
No one wants to build a new home office for example, only to find that you can’t easily see the monitor for half of the day due to the glare from the sun! Or that it’s awkward to get in/out the room because the door opens inwards and the desk’s in the way because you installed all the plug sockets on the ‘wrong’ side of the room..
If extending/renovating isn’t an option (or isn’t required), then sometimes just re-decorating can be really beneficial for your mindset. Check out How To Add Colour Into Your Home for advice about what colour schemes work well with different room types, atmospheres etc.
Crime and Antisocial Behaviour
Another common source of stress, anxiety and depression comes from concerns about crime and antisocial behaviour. Make your home as safe and secure as possible to decrease the chances of being targeted and also to give yourself peace of mind. There are a variety of home security improvements available, including PAS 24 certified windows and doors, burglar alarms and security cameras which are worth installing to allow you to feel safe in your own home.
If you have any questions about planning an extension or a home renovation and making sure your new home isn’t negatively impacting your physical or mental health, go ahead and book a free call below with Yoop.
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