Most people rely on their HVAC systems to keep their homes warm when the weather turns colder. A harsher winter cannot be tolerated without access to a furnace, heat pump, and boiler to keep our homes and water warm. But, recent research seems to suggest that many of these modern conveniences that we take for granted could affect your health. In this article, we will examine these claims in more detail and suggest some ways to deal with these potential problems.
The Typical HVAC Health Concerns
When we think about a furnace causing illness, it’s natural to imagine a buildup of allergens or dust in the ducts and vents or a carbon monoxide leak in the furnace. These types of problems can be identified and fixed with an annual HVAC checkup at the start of each heating and cooling season. This is also a great way to get your system ready for the colder weather and reduce the chance that it will let you down when you need it most. We also need to protect the quality of our indoor air by checking our air filters once per month and keeping them clean. But, this research seems to suggest that our HVAC systems could be affecting our health even if they are working as intended by the manufacturer.
The Evolution of the Human Immune System
The problem with our modern, convenient HVAC systems and health issues can be traced back to human evolution itself. In the ancient past, our ancestors would have been exposed to far lower and more severe temperatures than we experience. Their homes were open to the elements; beyond a simple fire, there was no heating, and this affected how their bodies worked.
Due to the regular exposure to colder temperatures, our immune systems evolved to be more active during the winter months. This was necessary for survival because we needed that key ability to fight off a seasonal illness. When we use modern heating methods to keep our homes warm and toasty, we are bypassing our exposure to colder temperatures. This effectively represses our natural immune systems, and it may make us more susceptible to certain seasonal diseases.
The Increased Probability of Disease
In a recent interview Tyler Stevenson the author of this report stated “When the outside environment is seasonal, but your internal environment is constant you have a disconnect,” and he added that it can increase the probability of different diseases or pathological states.” and he isn’t the first scientist or researcher to notice this trend. Another study found that turning the thermostat down caused some people to lose weight because their metabolism had to work harder. So, what’s the solution? Do we all have to turn our heating systems off and go and live in a cave?
Can We Stay Warm and Stave Off Disease?
It’s unreasonable to expect people to live in the colder conditions that our ancestors were used to and thrive. After all, mortality rates were much higher during the colder months, and most people didn’t live to a ripe old age. There are many aspects of our modern lives that would be impossible without access to comfortable temperatures. So, if you’re worried about the ability to naturally fight off diseases in winter, what can you do about this situation?
Well, the first and most obvious step is to adjust the thermostat down a few degrees. The optimal all year round temperature for most people is 72ºF, but most people don’t keep their homes anywhere near that temperature. It’s not unusual to see the heating and air conditioning cranked up or down in most homes during winter and summer months. But, as we’ve seen, this may not be the best option for your health, and it will drive your energy bills up. In the average home, 48% of the energy consumed is spent on heating and cooling. So, if you can tolerate an indoor temperature of 72ºF or even a couple of degrees lower, you will not freeze, but it will be a little cooler. This could help you to fight off a winter disease quickly and boost your metabolism to avoid putting on the dreaded winter weight.
Another way to stay warm during the winter is to exercise regularly. When it’s cold outside, many of us tend to shut down and go into a kind of hibernation mode. This isn’t great for our health, and it can make you feel colder in the long run. If you cannot manage to get to the gym, you can always pull a coat on and go for a walk around the block. Working outside in winter can also be a great experience, and you can always come inside if it gets too cold to tolerate.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
It’s also worth mentioning that many of us don’t drink enough water when the weather turns colder. It’s natural to crave beverages and warmer drinks when it’s cold outside, but we still need to drink enough water. Health experts recommend that we drinking eight 8oz glasses of water each day to stay fit and healthy. Staying hydrated is a great way to stave off disease at any time of the year and flush toxins out of your body.
The Importance of HVAC Servicing
Even if you’re going to be turning the temperature down a few degrees over the winter months, it’s important to make sure that your HVAC system is in good working order. Scheduling an annual service before the start of the heating season is a smart way to make sure that your system is ready for the colder weather ahead. If you’ve missed the window, don’t worry, there’s still time to get your system checked. When an HVAC system is well maintained, it will perform better, and the energy efficiency will be improved. This will ensure that your home is kept as comfortable as you want and that your heating bills can be kept under control.
If you want to know more about maintenance for your heating system, contact your local HVAC specialist for expert help and advice.