When the hot or cold temperatures outside are unbearable, escaping to the comfort of your home should bring you relief. Even on mild days, your home should be a comfortable and temperate environment. However, if your thermostat is set to your desired temperature and you still aren’t comfortable, you may need to assess the humidity levels.
Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor suspended in the air. An indoor humidity level between 30 and 60 percent is ideal. Consistently high humidity can turn your home into a breeding ground for mold, mildew and other allergens, and is a perfect habitat for moisture-seeking pests. In addition, the moisture can lead to wear and tear on the house, such as peeling paint, water stains on the ceiling and walls, and more. Your family and visitors will feel sticky and warm and generally uncomfortable.
On the contrary, when the humidity is too low, the dry air pulls the moisture from wood items in your home, including floors and furniture, leading to shrinkage and cracks. For residents, the dry, winter air will cause dry, cracking skin and lips, itchy eyes, and congestion. Viruses remain in the air longer leading to an increased susceptibility for spreading germs.
Impacts on Home Humidity Levels
Insufficiently maintained humidity levels can also impact the indoor air quality in your home. Dust mites, mold growth, stale/musty air and odors can all be a result of too low or too high humidity. Knowing what affects the humidity levels in your house can help you make adjustments to balance the levels.
Construction Deficiencies. Homes are constructed according to the climate in the area, and as such, should be maintained properly to prevent moisture issues. Roof leaks, leaking pipes inside walls, and improperly positioned downspouts could all lead to excessive moisture within the house. These issues are not always obvious. Leaks within walls, as an example, may not be noticed until mold is seen. Cracks along the foundation, and around windows and doors can let in both wet and dry air creating an imbalance in the indoor humidity levels.
Flooding and Extreme Weather. Obviously, flooding and heavy rain or snow can leave your house damp well beyond the end of the weather occurrence. Depending on where you live, arid, hot temperatures can bring with it extremely dry conditions inside your house. Limit opening doors and windows during bad weather to prevent lingering effects.
Daily Activities. Just about any of your daily living activities can affect the humidity levels in your home. Showering, cooking, laundry, indoor workouts, and just breathing can increase the humidity. Appliances that are not properly vented can exacerbate conditions.
Finding the Proper Balance for Humidity in Your Home
When your house is at the ideal humidity level you will realize savings in your energy bills, will limit home maintenance costs, will generally feel more comfortable, and you may even feel healthier. Here are some suggestions for ensuring your home indoor humidity levels remain constant.
Whole-Home Humidity Control System. The best way to ensure proper humidity levels throughout the house is by installing a whole-home humidity control system directly to your HVAC system. The dehumidifier/humidifier works with the air-conditioning and heating system to maintain an appropriate temperature and moisture level in the entire house. There are various types on the market, but one that is programmable, has built-in fan cycling, and is high-capacity will ensure the most comfort and efficiency.
During the winter months the humidifier will adjust when the air is extremely dry to limit static electricity buildup. To prevent undue moisture buildup from summertime humidity, the dehumidifier will work in concert with the AC to maintain a comfortable level.
Smart Thermostat. Use technology to automatically adjust the heat or AC in your house based on humidity levels. Using the smart technology to adjust the temperature to remain constant will increase the efficiency and result in lower bills.
Portable Humidifiers/Dehumidifiers. These are most often used in basements and bedrooms. For people who need slightly moister air in the winter to sleep, small humidifiers can serve as a supplement to the full system. Single-room dehumidifiers are often used in basements where high-moisture is more prevalent. Dehumidifiers must be watched to avoid overflow.
Daily Activities. Use what you do daily to your advantage. When showering during the summer months make sure to use fans to remove the moisture, but in the winter consider keeping the door cracked open to let the moisture flow through the house. Air dry your clothes to limit drying out the air too much, and enjoy the added benefit of lower utility bills.
Now that you know that controlling the humidity in your home can help reduce pollutants, save on maintenance bills and also lower your energy bills, learn what else you can do to find energy savings.