Show notes for Blooming! A Healthy Home by Design Podcast Episode 14: 10 Basic principles of a Wellness House
In this podcast I talk a lot about a healthy home, What exactly is a healthy home? What is wellness house? Are they the same thing? Well, in this episode I want answer those questions for you. When most people talk about healthy homes, it’s always about energy efficiency, and I believe there is so much more to having a healthy home. To me, a wellness house takes a healthy home to a whole new level. If you are a health conscious person and you want to provide a safe environment for your family to grow and thrive, then this episode is for you! Thank you so much for tuning in! I appreciate it so much.
In 2020 I started a new season that is talking about the areas of our lives that contribute to overall wellness and season 2 is all about personal growth. I talk about how our homes can help support these areas of our lives, so if you are a new listener, please go back and check them out, I’ve done some interviews with some awesome guests, so I would encourage you to do that! I’m going to take a side step from season2 in this episode and go back to season 1 only because i feel that the basic principals of a healthy home and wellness house is a really important thing to talk about because I get asked this question a lot and so that’s why my episodes will now be a little out of order. Hopefully that’s not going to be confusing for anyone! It’s funny that in my effort to keep everything organized - it’s not now, but that’s ok. life is like that sometimes right? So, anyways I’m so excited you are here, this episode is gonna be a great one, so let’s grow! I’m excited about todays topic because I get asked this question a lot. What exactly is a healthy home? and what’s a wellness house? OK so I’ve got 7 basic principles of a healthy home and then 3 more that I would add that make it a wellness house. So in my mind, I view a wellness house as basically a healthy home that has features an amenities that contribute to family wellbeing. So let’s get into it.
First let’s go over the first 7 basic principals of having a healthy home. These are principals that can be applied to new homes, old homes and any homes in between. At a minimum level, it’s what we need to ensure we are living in an environment that isn’t going to cause illness or injury to anyone in our family. It’s more about prevention.
1. Clean Home - Having a clean home is so important in having a healthy home. Of course we are all aware that it is inconvenient and undesirable to allow our homes to get super dirty. But were you aware that a dirty house could actually lead to a multitude of health problems? I found some great articles on line and I’ll include the links here. In your kitchen - Unclean plates, cutlery or chopping boards and even unwashed hands can lead to cross-contamination from raw meats into other foods, which can cause a list of food-borne illnesses such as E. coli, and salmonella. Another article I found describes how you can literally get sick from a dirty home, with molds growing, dust mites doubling, an environment that attracts insects and pests, it’s an invitation to disaster. So - having a clean home is really the #1 most important thing you can do if you want to have a healthy home.
2. Dry Home - This is important because wet, humid environments provide a perfect place for mold spores to grow. When humidity levels that are too high can promote mold, bacteria, virus, and dust mite growth, can also be bad for asthma and allergy suffers and will also damage wood. During the winter, high humidity levels will also lead to condensation on windows which can lead to mold growth or water damage.And mold in the home can cause so many health problems. Here are some mold statistics I found online:
7 million deaths per year are linked to indoor and outdoor air pollution.
Of the 21.8 million people reported to have asthma in the U.S., approximately 4.6 million cases are estimated to be attributable to dampness and mold exposure in the home.
At least 45 million buildings in the United Stats have unhealthy levels of mold. (Moldy, 2017)
Infants who are exposed to mold in their living environments have nearly a 3X greater risk of becoming asthmatic than those who did not have extensive mold exposure in their first year of life. (Michael Pinto, 2018)
93% of chronic sinus infections have been attributed to mold. (Mayo Clinic, 1999)
On average, professional mold remediation costs $500 to $6,000 – but the price can soar into the tens of thousands if the problem is severe.
Comfortable humidity in your home should be somewhere between 30-55% because Humidity levels that are too low are uncomfortable (dry, itchy skin), can be unhealthy to asthma and allergy suffers, will warp and crack wood and furniture, and can result in higher heating bills. Low humidity levels make you feel colder so you compensate by setting your thermostat higher and increasing your heating bill. It’s not the heat it’s the humidity! And then because you are so dry, you need tons of lotion or moisturizers. 6 ways to add moisture to the air w/out a humidifier.
3. Ventilated Home - So, it’s important to have ventilated bathrooms and to make sure your HVAC is working properly by bringing in fresh air through system as well as forced air. If you only have radiant heat hopefully you have some way that air is moved through your home. If you think you may have a problem with the humidity in your home or with the ventilation call a HVAC contractor to come help you with that.
4. Safe Home - According to the National Safety Council - Falls are the third leading cause of unintentional deaths over all age groups, but it’s the #1 cause of death for those 65 and older. in 2017 36,338 people died from a fall. Loose carpeting, cracked tiles or concrete, loose railings, slippery bathroom floors are just some of the things that could cause a fall in your home. So be sure to keep your floors clutter free, put electrical cords, small furniture and other trip hazards out of walkways. Use mats in your bathroom so water doesn’t spill on floors making them slippery.
5. Toxic Free Home - So the 3 major areas to control to keep your home toxin free are:
Products in that you allow in your home - from the products like flooring to furnishings but also the cleaning products you use.
The very first episode I talked about these 3 items in more depth, so go check that out if you haven’t already - it’s episode #1 -5 simple ways to create a healthier home. So what I want to say in this episode that is different is that you may not know that The leading cause of unintentional death according to the NSC is poisoning. it overtook motor vehicle crashes in 2011 and has been #1 ever since.
More than 90% of all poisonings happen at home.
Grocery store brand laundry detergents and household cleaners are toxic - even with childproof caps they can fall into the hands of little ones and has caused serious injury or death. I’m so passionate about this particular subject because there are actually products you can buy that aren’t poisonous. You don’t have to use bleach, lysol, ammonia or other toxic chemicals to rid your home of bacteria. There was a 20 year lung study done that followed over 6000 people and it showed that women who used using grocery store cleaners 1 a week - that we’ve all grown up using by the way - had the same damage to our lung capacity as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for 20 years. This is a serious problem. I’ve recently made a switch that i’m so excited about - I shop from a store that offers products made from the finest plant derived ingredients and work better than grocery store brands but cost less. This company is so clean that they aren’t even required to put child proof caps on their products! And in over 35 years of business with over 2B in sales each year - they have never had to pay a single dollar for liability insurance payouts for anyone being harmed by their products. I could go on and on, but believe me t here really are safer alternatives out there for your family. So it’s important that that you look for those.
6. Pest Free Home - In the winter months, pets will look for refuge from the weather and if you allow them in, they can cause serious property damage in and around your home. So some quick tips I found for this are:
Seal up any cracks and holes on the outside of your home including areas where utilities and pipes enter your home.
Screen vents and openings to chimneys.
Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
Store fire wood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off the ground. Repair fascia and sofits and rotted roof shingles; some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood.
Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around basement foundation and windows.
Call a qualified pest control professional for additional advice and treatment if necessary and here is California termites can cause so much damage to your home, so have a termite specialist come check your home, if you sign up for a termite program, they will come every 6 months to check and then will cover the cost of any repairs that are needed. Termites can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage so I this coverage on my home and think it’s well worth it.
7. Well Maintained Home - So just by cleaning and keeping up with these first 6 items your home will be well maintained! It’s important to keep your home maintained because deferring maintenance for too long allows your home to fall into disrepair and it can be quite costly. It’s like with anything, if you allow dishes to build up and build up in your sink and around the kitchen, eventually it’s a huge job to clean up and you might not know that insects have started to find a place in your kitchen to call home, or that mold is growing, etc. So just like this example, allowing leaves to accumulate in your gutters can stop the flow of water and your gutters won’t work properly, water spilling out in unintended areas can cause water damage. I have seen this happen many times. Wood windows need to be maintained each year with a oil treatment so that the wood doesn’t dry out. If you allow it to dry out, it can crack and allow water in during the winter months causing damage not only to the window frame but the window opening and everything around it. So it’s important to maintain your home to keep it a healthy home.
So if you have a newer home, then most likely you have a healthy home! Building codes are designed to help keep builders from cutting corners and eliminating things that are designed to keep us safe, especially here in California. So that is great to know. But if your home was built 15-20 years or more, then the safety standards are from that long ago unless you’ve done any recent renovations and have had to bring your home up to date following new building code guidelines. But that doesn’t mean that if you have an older home, that it’s not a healthy home. In fact if you follow steps 1-7, you can control the health of your home!
Ok now steps 8-10 are what takes your healthy home to the next level and it are these elements that in my opinion, bring wellness into the equation.
8. Comfortable Home - These are any added features that you can add to add comfort and livability to your surroundings. Things like designing organization into your spaces to keep your home clutter free and calm. I did an episode on creating a Calm environment in your home - it’s Episode #5 so go check that out if you get a chance. But also the colors you choose in your home play a significant role in influencing your mood and energy. On Episode #7 - I talked more about the psychology of colors, if you are interested you go listen to that it’s a really good one. Also furnishings you have in your home, the layout, the textiles and the actual choices you make with these items can vary in comfort level. So it’s a great idea to consult with a designer, because they can give you so many tips on how to arrange your furniture and how to select furnishings that will be best suited for your unique lifestyle, which of course is going to add to your feeling of comfort in your home.
9. Energy Efficient Home - Anything you add to improve the resourcefulness of your home is going to save you money and help save the planet by reducing our energy footprint. When you switch to LED lights, add programable thermostats, opt for smart home features that allow you to control your lighting and other elements of your home, it saves you money, and creates a better more enjoyable living environment for you and your family. Using solar energy is also an amazing thing you can do that can save you thousands of dollars each year. I don’t know about you, but here in Southern California, electricity is expensive and every time i write that check to the utility company I feel like it’s a huge waste of money. Only because I know that when we have solar that it will be free! So we are building a house now and especially now that it’s a new California rule, I’m so excited that we will be getting a Solar PV System for our new home.
10. Wellness Features & Amenities - I’m just going to name some features and amenities that will contribute to your wellbeing but there are tons! Some of these items are being built into planned neighborhoods as community features, sometimes homeowners build them into their own homes, but either way they will add so much value to your home not only when you go to sell, but when you live in your home!
a fitness center or home gym
playstructures for children and trampolines
meditation or yoga spaces
outdoor living areas
anything that brings the outdoors inside - like large skylights, large windows, bifold doors that allow you to have indoor/outdoor living spaces
indoor gardens - you should check out my Tower Garden I have on my instagram @healthyhomebydesign. It’s pretty incredible! I call it my living pantry. Mine is on my outside patio but they have an indoor unit with lights so you can grow an organic garden anywhere withouts soil using 92% less water and 90% less space - so cool - a kitchen designed for wellness with added amenities like juicers, high powered blenders, extra spaces that allow for easy consumption of fresh produce vs. large storage of dry packaged convenience foods, a space that is well lit and plans for multiple prep zones.
what about the walkability of your neighborhood or how close your home is to conveniences like restaurants, shopping, walking trails and parks?
what about spaces for your dogs - like dog parks?
OK - those are just a few but you get the idea. A home really can be designed for wellness and it doesn’t necessarily need to be brand new! Many of these things are added amenities that you can integrate into your existing home or they are neighborhood amenities, so when you are looking for a home it’s important to think about these wellness features and think about what is going to be most important for your family.
Finding a good realtor that can help you on your home search can really save you so much time, because they should know the area and know the homes that are available for sale so when you give them your criteria of what is important to you, they can help refine your list. They can also make sure that when you go into contract on a home that you have the necessary contingencies in place so that you have the right inspections done and you have time to check some of these things out before you close on your home. So just to recap - the 7 basic principals of a healthy home are
toxic free home
pest free home
well maintained home and then the 3 additional elements that make a healthy home, a wellness house are the:
energy efficient features
wellness features and amenities
In upcoming episodes I plan to dive much deeper into all these elements so be sure to subscribe if you enjoyed this episode! Thank you so much for listening and I wish you a happy healthy home for your and your loved ones! Have a great day!
If you enjoyed this, please check out my other blog posts on creating a Heathy Home for your family!