Ventilation and air circulation are important for both comfort and good health. When a room lacks a window or the window can't be opened due to security issues, air quality or other concerns, you'll have to think outside of the box to create ventilation without a window. Some solutions are relatively simple, while others require tools and careful attention to instructions to resolve the ventilation issue.
Improve the Airflow
Add air circulation by opening doors and using a doorway fan, oscillating floor fan or box fan to move the air around. If you're of a certain age, you may need extra air circulation at night to help mitigate those "heated moments." A simple clip-on fan attached to the headboard helps increase the airflow in the room. Point it up and away from your head to avoid blowing dust and allergens onto your face while you are sleeping.
Replace an overhead light fixture with a remote-controlled ceiling fan that incorporates a dimmable light fixture. Whether your decor is Victorian, midcentury modern or contemporary, there's a wide range of sizes and styles that can increase the air circulation in the room.
Consider adding a ceiling or wall exhaust fan to pull stagnant air out of the room. If you have access to an attic space or an exterior wall, adding a fan ventilates the room without raising concerns of security or pollutants coming in from outside.
Clear the Air
Fans help move the air around but don't do anything to remove indoor pollutants and allergens. Add a portable air cleaner to filter the air inside closed rooms. A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaner is the most efficient way to trap allergy-inducing particles. Measure the room to determine the square footage and then select an appropriately sized unit.
If budget is a concern, a simple 20 x 20-inch furnace filter taped to the back of a box fan clears the air in a small room in an hour or two. Use a pleated filter rated at MPR 1,000 or above to improve the air quality. For safety, always turn off the fan when leaving the room or the house.
Change the furnace filter regularly and set the fan to run continuously. Avoid using HEPA filters unless your furnace manufacturer specifically requires their use because they make your furnace fan work harder and may damage your heating and air conditioning equipment. Add electrostatically charged air vent filters to the heat and air conditioning registers to allow airflow into the room while reducing dust, smoke and pollen.
Control Indoor Pollution
Most homes are not airtight. The air filtration through walls and around doors and windows is sufficient for fresh air, even without opening windows. You can help control indoor pollution by using the exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen for at least a half hour after showering or cooking to remove cooking smells and moisture. If the fan is old or undersized, consider replacing it with a new upgraded fan that will increase the ventilation in the room.
Vacuum and dust regularly to reduce indoor dust and allergens. Don't forget the ceiling fan; it's a dust magnet. If your house is stuffy and musty, a dehumidifier can help remove excess moisture from the air and reduce the incidence of mold and mildew.
Avoid using strongly scented products that can cause reactions in sensitive individuals. In a closed space, the smells can be overwhelming even if allergies are not a concern. Dryer sheets, for example, are not necessary when you add two or three tennis balls to the dryer. Of course, be sure to vent the dryer outside to avoid adding lint, dust and (in the case of gas dryers) toxic gases to your indoor space.
Ruth de Jauregui is the author of 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden. She writes numerous home and garden articles for a variety of online publications. She got her start as a book and cover designer in San Francisco for William (Bill) Yenne at American Graphic Systems. In addition to designing books, she wrote her first book, Ghost Towns. With several nonfiction books under her belt, de Jauregui recently published her first novel, Bitter.