COVID-19 and most of its cousins have a Dracula feature of not liking sunshine and fresh air, and Florida has plenty of each. In fact, if you chart the biggest spikes in cases of the virus, they came at times when it was so hot that people stayed indoors under air conditioning or during the peak of Florida’s winter when folks stayed indoors with their heaters running. All the science seems to indicate that sunshine, fresh air, and humidity are not friends of this virus and most others.
If you look at homes that were designed prior to the days of air conditioning, it seems home designers figured out a well-ventilated home was both cooler and safer. Most homes had double-hung windows and exterior doors with full screens to allow for full breezes and maximized ventilation. In the evenings, the screen porch was a place where everyone gathered to socialize. Houses of the past were ventilated for comfort and health. That along with soap and water is how many people prevented sickness.
Those same lessons can and should be applied to homes in Central Florida. The first thing everyone should consider is trading a little comfort for ventilation. Although air conditioning is great in Florida, homes have become too reliant on them, even in summertime. In the evenings and mornings, many homes could be cooled down comfortably with open windows and fans. Keeping your home aired out and well ventilated will help keep viruses from spreading among family members.
Unfortunately, most of the windows in everyone’s home will not open because they have been closed for so long that the balancers have frozen in place or the dirt and gunk have built up so much in the frame channels that the windows will not move. Windows are meant to be opened. If your windows are unable to do so, get them repaired. Your windows could be the key to keeping your family healthy as well as reducing your energy bills.
The exterior doors of your home offer the biggest and best form of ventilation. Many homeowners have gotten away from screen doors because of their reliance on air conditioning. In many cases, an investment in a new aluminum screen door can enhance a front door opening as the modern styles are very attractive. Plus, the pets in your home will love you.
A screened lanai or front porch with a brisk operating fan can be a haven for socializing and enjoying the beautiful Florida climate nightly. Although open porch areas are nice and can provide great ventilation, without screens these areas are not fully utilized due to mosquitoes that feast at dusk. Porches or open lanais in Florida should be screened to keep out the bugs.
Another great screen idea is a garage screen that can be used when the garage door is open. For those who work in their garage or use their garage for a smoking area or man cave, a garage screen provides wonderful ventilation and can be a haven for family interactions.
As the COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out, there is real hope that an end to this pandemic is in sight. However, there are other viruses that could potentially infect you and your family. Designing a home and putting features in place that help prevent the spread of disease is a great investment in your family’s health.
A lesson learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that a generation now understands the dangers of viruses as well as how to mitigate them. Screens, fans, and fresh air will be the new home remedies.
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House, which can be seen at aroundthehouse.tv.