We all try so many complicated things to live healthier. High-tech workout equipment, fitness trackers, acai bowls, gua-sha facials (still have no idea how to pronounce that) … the list goes on and on.
Sometimes I want to slide all these things off the proverbial table and just get back to basics. Whole food, good sleep, nature, clean air… the OG wellness hacks. I’ve been doing a lot to improve my diet and sleep these days, and heading out to the beach on the weekends definitely gets us outside more than usual, but honestly I had never considered the indoor air quality in my home and how it could be impacting my health.
Then I started doing some research.
Did you know that us modern humans spend about 90% of our time indoors these days? And that indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air (yes, even if you live in smog-filled Los Angeles)? The effects of indoor air pollutants can range from things that seem obvious, like eye irritation, respiratory issues, asthma and allergies, to things I wouldn’t have associated with it, like headaches, decreased productivity and disrupted sleep.
I’ve written before about how the air in your home is often contaminated by dust, pet dander, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from things like paint, furniture, and cleaning supplies. And there’s another issue: CO2 levels inside can also rise throughout the day, and new research shows those levels can affect cognitive function.
For all these reasons, I’m totally convinced that being more conscious of your air quality at home is the next wave of wellness—and I partnered with VELUX skylights to give our beach house a clean air upgrade.
Before and After
There are things you can do around the house to capture some of the dust and compounds that are floating around, like invest in filters and plenty of plants, but according to the EPA, one of the best ways to lower the concentration of indoor air pollutants in your home is to let some fresh air in.
When we bought the beach place, there were two skylights already in the ceiling, but one didn’t open at all, and one required a telescoping rod and a lot of manual cranking. Once I saw how much was involved, I knew we’d never bother. So when VELUX offered to replace them with solar powered fresh air skylights with VELUX ACTIVE with Netatmo, I thought it was a genius idea.
Not only does the company make gorgeous skylights that let natural sunlight stream into your space (hooray!), but VELUX ACTIVE system has sensors that monitor the temperature, humidity, and CO2 in your home throughout the day.
When there’s too much CO2 or humidity in the air, the VELUX ACTIVE system automatically opens the skylights for ventilation. When the air quality improves (or it gets too cold or rainy; the system is connected to the Internet to monitor outside weather via an online weather station), it’ll close them. That helps with energy efficiency, too, because cooling the house with natural ventilation means we have to run the AC less during the summer months.
The skylights are solar-powered (more energy efficiency!), so no electric connection is required, which made replacing the old ones easy for the professional installers who did the job. Adding a simple bridge to your wireless router is all that’s needed to connect them to an app on your phone, and the system now integrates with Apple HomeKit. (So yes, you can tell Siri to serve up some fresh air).
We open the skylight in our kitchen all the time, because it ventilates our main living space and helps air things out when we’re frying up bacon or doing some indoor grilling.
The skylight in our bedroom is right over our bed, and it’s fun to look up at the stars at night. But before we go to sleep we shut its room darkening blind which helps us sleep in a bit on weekend mornings. Both the skylight and the shade open and close with a tap of the VELUX ACTIVE smartphone app, which makes them a pleasure to use.
My mom is afraid of bugs of all kinds, and I did not grow up in a home where we opened the windows— ever. Living in LA I’ve grown a bit more accustomed to letting the outdoors in, but I think if these skylights didn’t have bug screens (which they do!) it might be a non-starter. Also, since the Malibu fires last fall (that were scarily close to our home), a lot of toxic soot blows around when the winds kick up, so it’s nice to know we can control our skylights remotely with our phones, if needed.
When the weekend is over and we pack up and head home, we can lock the skylights so they’re not opening and closing while we’re away.
I’m not saying it’s time to give up all of the other wellness tools (that gua-sha thing is fun to drag across your face!). I’m just saying that if you can have a beautiful home feature that lets the sun stream in AND helps your family breathe better? That’s wellness gold.
This blog post was written in partnership with VELUX, who provided the skylights for our beach home. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting our sponsors— they help us create great content on the site.
All photos by Hannah Garvin Photography