Tips for NW Natural customers on keeping your indoor air clear

Smoke from the region’s wildfires has made air quality very poor—both indoors and outside. Since many of us are at home indoors right now, here are some tips on using your appliances while managing your home’s air quality during this event:

Gas furnaces:

  • Gas furnaces are vented to the outdoors, and are safe to use.
  • Switch your furnace to “fan/circulate” to improve indoor air filtration. (You can do this when you turn the furnace on.)
  • Install a fresh air filter in your furnace. Filters with higher MERV ratings, such as 13, are more effective at removing particles.

Gas fireplaces:

  • Today’s direct vent natural gas fireplaces and inserts are vented to the outdoors, which eliminates any concerns about using it during periods of poor air quality. You can safely operate your gas fireplace without drawing in smoky air from the outside.
  • Avoid using wood burning fireplaces, wood stoves, or unvented gas fireplaces, until air quality has improved.

Cooking:

  • You can safely use your gas or electric stove or oven with proper ventilation, such as a range hood.
  • Cooking can release emissions, which under normal circumstances can be addressed by a range hood. 
  • However, given current air conditions due to wildfires, you should avoid frying, toasting, broiling, or other methods that can create smoke. Consider baking, boiling or microwaving meals.

Clothes dryers and fans:

  • Limit the use of clothes dryers, as they pull in air from outdoors. (This is true for electric or gas dryers.)
  • Exhaust fans in the bathroom or other areas of the house can draw in outside air that may make indoor quality worse. Limit the use of exhaust fans during periods of extremely poor air quality.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors:

  • Ensure that you have functioning smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality also recommends ways to protect your health when smoke levels are high:

  • Stay inside if possible. Keep windows and doors closed.
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.
  • Be aware of smoke in your area and avoid places with the highest levels.
  • Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These can be portable filters or can be installed in indoor heating, ventilation, cooling and air purification systems.
  • If you have heart or lung disease or asthma, follow your healthcare provider’s advice.

For more information on natural gas safety, including no-cost equipment inspections and equipment tune-up offers, visit nwnatural.com. For updated information on wildfires and air quality, visit https://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/.