A survey of over 2,000 Australians shows humid conditions, poor ventilation and a lack of awareness on how to improve air quality at home is impacting the immune systems of millions of Australians.
Research commissioned by Daikin Australia has found that more than half of Australians (52 per cent) have experienced health concerns such as respiratory problems, asthma, allergy symptoms, poor sleep and headaches due to poor air quality at home. The Daikin Australia ‘Understanding indoor air quality in Australian homes’ research¹ surveyed over 2,000 respondents in May 2022. According to the findings, 84 per cent of Australians hold some level of concern about indoor air quality, with COVID-19 contributing to 40 per cent of Australian adults changing the way they think, and manage, air quality in their home to keep the family healthy.
“In the aftermath of the Black Summer Bushfires, COVID-19 and now the effects of La Niña, Daikin commissioned research to better understand how Australians are managing the indoor air quality at home,” says Dan Tosh, General Manager – Marketing & Ecommerce at Daikin Australia.
“While many Australians know that good indoor air quality is important, our research has found that some of the simplest choices and behaviours to improve indoor air at home go overlooked,” says Mr Tosh.
Air quality in the home is on the mind of the nation
As we head into the cooler months, the risk of poor-quality air in our homes increases. Mould growth, dust mites, poor air circulation, pets spending more time indoors and even the type of heating used in the home all contribute to higher levels of pollution and allergens indoors.
For many Australians, managing the winter season becomes a careful balancing act to keep the family warm and healthy, without breaking the bank.
Almost half (48 per cent) of the Australians surveyed by Daikin stated that they were concerned about managing the cost of heating their home this winter. Choosing a cost-efficient home heating system was named as the number one priority for respondents.
Choosing a home heating solution that also improves air quality was rated as the least important feature for Australians. One of the most common actions among research respondents to improve air quality in the home (59 per cent) was to always keep a window open, a practice that is likely making the problem worse, says National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, Professor Sheryl van Nunen.
“Opening just one window can introduce more allergens, such as mould spores, pollution, pollen and smoke to the air you breathe. Good ventilation in the home means cross ventilation. The air must be able to enter and leave your house, for example, through the front and back doors, to have any meaningful impact,” says Professor van Nunen.
Using technology to improve the air in your home
According to Professor van Nunen, while the symptoms of poor air quality in the home can seem mild, the cumulative effect of wheezing and nasal blockage results in poor sleep which can increase the likelihood of catching any respiratory virus, which, in turn, worsen any rhinitis or asthma. It also reduces the ability to perform tasks safely, including driving.
“The key to better air quality in the home for winter is to manage humidity and ensure any ventilation is helping to improve the quality of the air you breathe, not hindering it,” says Professor van Nunen.
"Humidity encourages mould growth and allows pests like dust mites to thrive. It’s important to choose heating systems that regulate the temperature and reduce the amount of moisture in the air to make your home healthier this winter,” says Professor van Nunen.
Look for the Blue Butterfly
The National Asthma Council Australia created the Sensitive Choice program to help people identify products and services that are asthma and allergy aware and have been reviewed and approved by an independent expert panel.
In lab testing, Daikin’s Streamer Technology was found to destroy 99.9 per cent of mould and allergens in 24 hours², and 99.6 per cent of pollen in just two hours³.
“Daikin’s Streamer Technology is an active air purification system that improves indoor air quality. It works by using charged air particles to destroy pollutants like pollen, mould and other allergens such as dust mites from the air,” says Mr Tosh.
Smart ways to get more out of your air conditioning system this winter
According to Daikin’s research, just one in ten Australians use their heating system daily to maintain a consistent temperature in the home and only 14 per cent use the dry and fan settings. Knowing how to use your system to maximise your comfort and health, without driving up your power bill is key.
- If the humidity is over 70 per cent, use the dry setting to remove moisture from the air, help stop mould from forming and kill dust mites and other allergens
- Running your system in short bursts of time to reduce costs can cost more. Choose warm on your system and set the temperature at 21-22 degrees in winter to stay comfortable and keep your bills lower
- Turn your system on in the afternoon before the temperature drops too much, a colder start requires more power and equals larger energy bills
- Ensure your home is well insulated to keep the warmth in. Use curtains, window and door seals to stop drafts from cooling your home down
- Choose a reverse-cycle system that offers built in air purification to remove moulds, pollens, bacteria and viruses from the air
“When it comes to air quality in your home, not all air conditioners are created equal. Investing in the right heating and air purification systems will help the whole family breathe easier this winter,” concludes Mr Tosh.