(WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has sent out an air quality advisory for Wisconsin counties.
The advisory is scheduled to go until Sunday, Feb. 21 at 3 p.m.
According to the AirNow website, the Air Quality Index (AQI) reports air pollution in the surrounding area.
The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern.
To help people quickly determine whether air quality is reaching unhealthy levels in their communities, the DNR says the AQI is divided into six categories that correspond with their own colors.
In the advisory the DNR sent out Friday, the AQI is orange, a level that is deemed unhealthy for sensitive groups.
The DNR says members of sensitive groups may experience health effects and the general public is less likely to be affected.
The counties affected by the AQI advisory are as follows:
- Eau Claire
- Fond du Lac
- Green Lake
- La Crosse
- St. Croix
The DNR reminds everyone that daily use of electricity and fuel contributes to air pollution, which means the choices people make every day can directly affect air quality and health.
Here are some at-home tips the DNR recommends for everyone during the winter:
- During the heating season, keep the shades on all south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter the home, and closed at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
- Keep the fireplace damper closed when not in use. Have a fireplace, but don’t use it? Use a chimney pillow. A fireplace acts like a straw in a house, sucking out the heat and replacing it with cold air and sometimes smoky smells. Chimney pillows provide insulation to fireplaces, keeps the heat in and the cold drafts out.
- Minimize the use of space heaters and gas fireplaces. They are more inefficient and expensive to operate than furnaces when trying to heat the majority of a home.
- Keep shades on south-facing windows open during winter days to let in the sun. Use LED holiday lights to save on energy bills. LED lights last 10 times longer and use up to 93% less energy than standard incandescent mini-lights.
- Conserve energy by turning off lights when leaving a room and turning off computers and televisions when not in use. Also, unplug gadgets, phone chargers, coffee pots, and other electronics. They draw electricity even when turned off.
- Have the furnace inspected and serviced annually. Replace the furnace filter regularly. A dirty filter slows down airflow and makes the system work harder. A clean filter keeps dirt from building up and can save costly repairs.
- The lower the home thermostat is set, the more money is saved. According to the Department of Energy, for every degree the thermostat is lowered, the heating bill will lower by 1% to 3%.
- Check the water heater’s thermostat. If it is set above 120 degrees, the water could cause third-degree burns in less than 10 minutes. Turn down the thermostat for safety and to save energy.
- Seal holes and cracks in the basement with expandable foam or silicone caulking. Insulate hot water pipes and heating ducts in the basement.