09/20/2010 09:47 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Ode to Open Windows

People are often surprised when they find out I don't have air-conditioning at home. But I couldn't bear to live without open windows. And it turns out my family and I may be healthier as a result (hotter, but healthier!). A recent study done in California shows that there are almost twice as many pollutants inside our homes as there are outside...and it didn't make a difference whether people lived in the country or the city. The bottom line is, we are all better off letting the fresh air in (and the bad stuff out).

What is the bad stuff inside our homes? Well, it's everything from the off-gassing that our furniture, paints, and carpeting do to the air fresheners, beauty products, and cleaners we use. Even if we all try to reduce those things in our homes, I am sure that the exhaust from our refrigerators and stoves do plenty to add toxins to the air inside our homes.

Fortunately, I love to keep my windows open, especially at night. When my husband and I built our ecofreindly home five years ago, I specifically designed our bedroom as if it were a tent in the woods. There are windows on all three sides (including a door that leads to a sleeping porch), and they look out onto our woods. At night, under the pile of blankets, I can snuggle up real warm while my nose can peek out and get fresh air all night long. In the summer, when it's really hot, we let the night gently cool us down to the sounds of crickets and the occasional screeching fox. I love waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of a rainstorm (and the fresh scent of nature getting a bath--no bottle in the supermarket can ever replicate that!).

Even in the winter, keeping the window open a crack lets frosty fresh air filter into our house. I love when I can smell that snow is coming, or that someone in the neighborhood has a wood fire burning.

I feel like a good ecocitizen by not wasting energy on air-conditioning. But the truth is, I just love living without it. Even if you have it, and you need it to stay cool (I confess, our summer vacation in Tennessee would have been a lot less pleasant without it!), if the weather turns nice, turn it off and open a window. Let the fresh air in, and the bad air out.

Just as importantly, think about all you might be doing to pollute your indoor air, and how you can find less-toxic replacements. I'll be writing about those less-toxic replacements in a future post--so let me know your ideas!

Related Links:
Recharging the Batteries in a Favorite Place - Maria's Farm Country Kitchen
This or That: Leave Your AC on Or Turn It Off? -
Home Air Quality: What Are You Inhaling - Mother Nature Network

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