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6 Ways to Improve The Indoor Air Quality of Your Home

March 4, 2021

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Profile of a beautiful woman relaxing lying on a couch at home

Considering springtime pollen causing allergies and the fear of spreading COVID-19, it’s time to improve the indoor air quality of your home as the air we breathe has taken center stage now more than ever. Today’s homeowners are concerned about impurities in the air getting trapped inside their own home. Yuck! What’s a luxury homeowner to do?

Familiarize yourself with the terms

AQI means air quality index, which is a number from zero to 500 that basically tells you how healthy the air is to breathe. The higher the number, the more air pollution. The number is based on 5 environmental pollutants, as recognized by the Clean Air Act:

  • Ground-level ozone
  • Particulate matter
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Sulphur dioxide,
  • Nitrogen dioxide

Santa Barbara County homeowners need to be aware of two types of pollution that are of special concern here: the ozone, a principal component of smog; and particle pollution, also known as particulate matter (PM). To get an accurate AQI, measurements are taken of particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), and of particles less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10). Real-time Air Quality Index numbers can be found on Today’s Air Quality and Air Now.

READ: Sick Building Syndrome: Could Your Home be Making You Ill?

The ground-level ozone that affects indoor air quality is a result of emissions from cars and industrial pollutants reacting with sunlight. But that's not all. Harmful particles are also emitted from tobacco smoke, cooking at home, and fireplaces. Short-term, that can mean eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Long term? Increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions, chronic bronchitis and lung and heart disease. 

READ: Santa Barbara Living: Testament to Why It’s a Top 100 City

When it comes time to improve the indoor air quality of your home in Santa Barbara, Montecito, or anywhere for that matter, I have good news to share. According to a recent report in the Los Angeles Times, clean air systems are the new real estate status symbol. But those systems are just the start. Want to learn more? Just take a deep breath and read on:

  1. Install an Air Purifier
    They may be the latest status symbol for luxury homeowners, but not all air purifiers are created equal. The state-funded California Air Resources Board says homeowners should avoid using a so-called ozone-generating air purifier. Instead, look for devices listed as mechanical, or electronic designs that emit less than .050 parts per million. Check out these 12 best home air purifiers on the market.

  2. Does Your Air Filter Need to be Changed?
    A clogged air filter on a central air conditioner duct, or even the wrong filter, can reap havoc on your home’s indoor air quality. If the filter is too thin it will basically be ineffective against all but the largest particles. And if you have pets, consider switching to a filter with a MERV rating of 10 or above. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. By using the right filter, the air in your home will feel much crisper and cleaner.

  3. Wear a Mask When You Damp Mop and Dust
    According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the act of dusting can actually make allergies worse. Makes sense when you consider the cloud of dust stirred up can make sufferers sneeze, get stuffy noses and watery or red, itchy eyes. Wearing an N95 mask while you’re cleaning can help. You can also get rid of any wall-to-wall carpet, especially in bedrooms, and throw away all that unnecessary clutter. Both are dust magnets. The simple act of dampening a microfiber dusting cloth before swiping it across a surface, means you’re not circulating the dust.

  4. Air Quality Testing?
    There are several air quality testers on the market today that can be helpful to a homeowner who wants a finer assessment of their home’s air quality than just looking up their neighborhood AQI. The Temtop M10 monitor is a sleek little cube that detects particles in the air, volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde. Keep in mind, these devices are not made to improve the air quality; only to give a homeowner good intel.

  5. Invest in a HEPA Filter Vacuum Cleaner
    There’s no point in having an air filter if you have a regular vacuum cleaner that just moves dust around your home. Skip the bagless models that spew dust. Look for a model that has a HEPA filter, in addition to other filters (i.e., charcoal for odors), such as a Miele model that uses its cloth dust bags as filters.

READ: Outdoor Living Spaces for Luxury Homes: Builders Follow the Santa Barbara Example

  1. Let The Outside Air In
    We who are lucky enough to call Santa Barbara home can open our doors and windows almost all year long, thanks to our perfect Mediterranean weather. Recirculation is one of the best ways to clean up your air. You’re basically letting the chemicals and airborne toxins, including viruses that are trapped inside, waft away. As long as the exterior air isn’t full of fire smoke or exhaust from a nearby road, throwback your curtains and open your windows every day.
The front of a Montecito home that is currently for sale with a fountain in the foreground and some white fluffy clouds against a blue sky that naturally offers great air quality

I have many amazing listings on my comprehensive website where the indoor air quality is excellent due to the size of the residence, the number of windows and doors that can be opened to circulate the air and stately grounds, perfect for breathing in our breathtaking Santa Barbara sunsets. For example, take my listing pictured above, a Premier Mediterranean-style Ennisbrook Estate. Located in Montecito's exclusive Ennisbrook community, the spectacular 5-bedroom, 9-bath main house, along with two additional structures, rest on approximately 2 acres featuring panoramic vistas of the Santa Ynez Mountains.  The main residence is graced with a wealth of large windows and arched French doors to the luxurious grounds, providing a seamless transition between interior comforts and exterior amenities.

Don’t let viruses and allergy-inducing schmutz ruin your home’s indoor air quality, and possibly affect your health, too. If you’re considering buying a home in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, or are contemplating selling your home in the Santa Barbara area, I’m here to help. Please call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at  I’ll take care of everything. All you need to do is breathe. Deeply.

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch