Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina) in pot isolated on white background

10 Plants That Double as Energy-Efficient Air Filters

Did you know the air currently being circulated throughout your home is pervaded by pollutants, known as volatile organic compounds (VOC)? That means both you and your family breathe toxic chemicals into your bodies on a daily basis.

Indoor air can become tainted by regular exposure to household cleaners, building and maintenance materials, pesticides, gases and other environmental stressors. In order to prevent these health hazards from causing chronic respiratory issues, ensure that your home is well-ventilated with a clean air supply.

An inexpensive, eco-friendly and energy efficient way to accomplish this objective is through the use of houseplants. The American Society of Horticulture Science has found that certain plants purify both indoor and outdoor oxygen, while reducing the negative effects of ozone concentration. When determining which plants will make the most effective air filters, make sure they can eliminate these common VOCs:

  • Formaldehyde: a chemical found in most cleaning products
  • Benzene: a by-product of gas, oil, smoke and similar contaminants
  • Trichlorethylene: a compound used to remove grease from metal, and also found in paints, adhesives and spot removers

The following houseplant varieties are best suited for the job; plus they’re even NASA-approved!

English Ivy

What It’s Used For: eliminating airborne fecal matter particles and formaldehyde
Why It’s Ideal: thrives in small spaces, even rooms that lack windows or natural light

Peace Lily

What It’s Used For: eliminating benzene, formaldehyde, trichlorethylene, toluene (found in gasoline, adhesives and cosmetic nail products), xylene (found in paints and synthetic fragrances) and acetone (emitted by electronics)
Why It’s Ideal: among the most effective and visually appealing plant filters
Keep In Mind: requires weekly watering and is poisonous to pets

Chinese Evergreen

What It’s Used For: eliminating formaldehyde, benzene and a wide variety of other pollutants while continuing to grow
Why It’s Ideal: highly durable, low-maintenance to care for and able to bloom in dimly-lit surroundings
Keep In Mind: requires moist soil and low humidity

Bamboo Palm

What It’s Used For: eliminating benzene and trichlorethylene
Why It’s Ideal: among the most effective plants for filtering out these particular toxins
Keep In Mind: requires ample space to grow, thrives in shaded areas and produces fruit

Weeping Fig

What It’s Used For: eliminating pollutants that result from carpeting and furniture
Why It’s Ideal: can live for a long time, with frequent water and sufficient lighting

Devil’s Ivy

What It’s Used For: eliminating benzene and formaldehyde
Why It’s Ideal: low-maintenance to care for and thrives in various light conditions (prefers medium-lighting)
Keep In Mind: toxic when consumed, so keep away from pets and children

Red-Edged Dracaena

What It’s Used For: eliminating benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene
Why It’s Ideal: can adapt to dry soil conditions
Keep In Mind: cannot thrive under direct sunlight and will decay if watered excessively

Broadleaf Lady Palm

What It’s Used For: eliminating trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene
Why It’s Ideal: thrives under any lighting condition, from minimal to direct sunlight
Keep In Mind: grows slowly, but can reach up to 14-feet with palm fronds expanding 6-12 inches across; cannot tolerate excessive watering, and leaves must be sprayed with insecticidal soap, as they are susceptible to mites

Florist’s Chrysanthemum

What It’s Used For: eliminating benzene, formaldehyde, trichlorethylene, xylene, toluene and ammonia
Why It’s Ideal: will fully bloom in just 6-8 weeks when exposed to cool and bright surroundings; can thrive outdoors during the spring
Keep In Mind: toxic when consumed, so keep away from pets and children

Snake Plant (or, Mother-In-Law’s Tongue)

What It’s Used For: eliminating benzene, formaldehyde, trichlorethylene, xylene and toluene
Why It’s Ideal: thrives under any lighting conditions, can adapt to dry soil, rarely needs to be repotted and is considered an ideal option for novice gardeners

Even if your thumb isn’t exactly “green,” incorporating these natural oxygen purifiers into your home decor helps maximize the air conditioning unit’s functionality.

Keep in mind that these plants do not replace the function of the filter on your heating.cooling system. Regularly cleaning or even replacing air filters is also imperative – when A/C filters accumulate dirt and dust, the entire HVAC system will malfunction. Scott Whitaker of Arctic Air Services explains that “Cleaning and/or replacing your HVAC air filters regularly is very important, not only because it helps keep your home’s air clean, but also because it maximizes the efficiency and longevity of your air conditioner. Proper maintenance can help you avoid a costly repair or replacement bill later.”

Most air filters require maintenance every 30-90 days, so check for cleanliness on a routine basis and replace the old filter if necessary. Upon taking these precautionary measures, your whole family will breathe easier, stay healthier and enjoy a safer living environment.

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