How to Get Fresh Air Into Your Apartment During Quarantine

The time has come for you to master the art of cross ventilation.


Despite many states and business reopening — at least to some extent — we should still be doing our part by staying home as much as possible (and certainly working from home if your employer allows it). But as you plunge further and further into quarantine, the air in your home may have become increasingly dank, funky and reeking of week-old potato chips — none of which lends itself to a pleasant, agreeable breathing experience. There are some quick-and-easy ways to improve the air quality inside your home, though, so come along as we help you catch your breath.

The first and most obvious thing you can do to shepherd fresh air into your home is simply opening a few windows. But for the best results, you should really understand the delicate art of cross ventilation, which involves carrying cool exterior air into your home while forcing warm interior air outside. Creating a cross-breeze usually requires an inlet window, where fresh air can enter into your home, and an outlet window, which allows that new air to push old, potato-chip air outside.

While cross ventilation works best when you have windows on opposite sides of your home, you can also use fans to help propel the air throughout your space: Simply place one fan in front of your inlet window to blow outside air forward, through your space, then place a second fan in front of your outlet window, this time facing outward to blow the stale air outside.

As an added bonus, cross ventilation can help reduce the humidity in your home, keeping yourself cool and the air in your apartment fresh. “One thing people might not know is the mechanism behind why sweating cools us down and why humidity interrupts that,” explains Alex Klotz, an assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy at California State University, Long Beach. “All the water molecules in our sweat are moving around with speeds distributed around some average, and the temperature of the sweat is related to that average speed. The faster molecules are more likely to escape into the air, and when that happens, the remaining molecules now have a lower average speed, because there are fewer molecules faster than the old average, which means the temperature has gone down — it’s the same mechanism as blowing on your soup. However, if the air is also full of water, then molecules will be landing on your skin at the same rate as they’re leaving, which means that there isn’t a net flux of fast molecules away from your skin.” Or in simpler terms, too much humidity prevents your sweat from doing its job of keeping you cool.

So crack open a few windows and put those fans to work. Oh, and maybe stop eating so many potato chips.