Indoor Air Filtration with Plants
As I’ve been learning about passive solar retrofits, I’ve also learned that when a home is better insulated, while it can make the energy systems more efficient, the quality of the indoor air can become more of a concern.
For example, when drafty windows are replaced, the home can become more energy efficient, yet an unintended result could be that the gas forced air heater that is in use for the winter needs the extra air from the leaky windows to function. As a result of creating a tighter envelope for the house, the air within the home can become polluted with gas and can potentially cause sickness – or in the worse case scenario, it could blow up.
In general, any time energy is used to heat or cool a space, the better insulated the environment is, the more efficient it tends to be. For example, less energy is needed to warm or heat a space if heat or coolness is constantly escaping. Indoor air pollution, however, can become an issue.
I recently came upon a post that discussed a situation in India where the indoor pollution became bad enough that people started to get sick. After doing research, they found that the utilization of three different plants worked as an effective form of indoor air filtration. Here is a short video of Kamal Meattle discussing about these plants.
In an effort to purify the quality of the air in their work environment, a company in India came up with three plants to “grow” fresh air. They are the:
- Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
- Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)
- Money Plant (Epipremnum Anreum)
The end result was that productivity went up and the air was cleaner.
Similar to passive solar as the aikido of building design, with a little planning, choosing the right plants (and keeping them alive) will, by their inherent nature, passively and naturally filter the air.
***If you are considering doing an energy retrofit, make sure to consult a professional to ensure that your energy retrofit is safe. Older homes tend to have older appliances that utilize natural gas and may need airflow in order to function correctly. In this type of situation, simply filling a home with plants may not adequately deal with the amount of gas produced from a malfunctioning natural gas heater. Be safe!