During the winter months, it’s normal to close your home’s windows and crank up the heating. If you want a solution for dry, interior air, does opening a window help?
Opening the window can help with dry air, but it depends on the weather. In warm weather, it can help with dry air in your home. Cold air has less moisture, and opening the window during winter won’t help improve your home’s humidity levels.
Read further to discover why opening a window in summer can help with dry air and whether or not dry air is unhealthy. I’ll also discuss some useful ways of preventing dry air in your home.
Why Do Open Windows Help With Dry Air in Summer?
In the previous section, I mentioned that opening a window can help improve your home’s humidity levels, but it depends on the season. What are the reasons behind this?
Open windows help with dry air in the summer because warm air typically has more moisture content than cold air. The only exception is when it’s raining and cold, but you probably wouldn’t want icy, rainy air entering your home, anyway.
When temperatures are high during the summer, molecules in the air expand, freeing up space for water molecules to move in. However, air humidity levels vary depending on the area, elevation, proximity to the ocean, and climate.
Consider Altitude and Climate
The air is typically drier in mountainous and high-altitude areas, but the opposite is true for low-lying areas close to the ocean. Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi have very humid summers, while Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico have drier summers.
Most people turn on their air conditioning in the summer, and the cold air can make your home’s atmosphere feel dry. If you live in an area with relatively humid summers, opening a window can help increase the moisture in your home’s air.
When the temperatures drop in the winter, and your furnace is turned up, the air inside your home can also feel dry. This is because your furnace draws in the cold, dry outside air and heats it. Opening a window can make your home less stuffy, but it won’t improve the air’s dryness.
Is Dry Air Unhealthy?
Dry air in the home can contribute to static electricity and make your hands and lips feel dry. But is it unhealthy?
Dry air can be unhealthy, but it doesn’t typically cause life-threatening problems. Dry air can exacerbate asthma, sinus, or respiratory problems. It may also worsen eczema, irritate your eyes, or dehydrate you.
Read further for an in-depth explanation of these health issues.
Dry Air Can Exacerbate Asthma, Sinus, or Respiratory Problems
To keep the respiratory tract functioning optimally, the body lines the lungs, throat, and sinuses with a thin layer of mucous. When you breathe in air that is too dry, the mucous dries up, falls away, and leaves your respiratory tract vulnerable to infection.
Dry air can cause people living with asthma to have an attack. If you have a respiratory tract infection, the dry air can exacerbate your symptoms and inflame your airways more.
If you often have sinus problems, dry air can make them worse. Sinus issues are usually due to inflamed blood vessels in the nose. Dry air can increase inflammation and make the blood vessels more sensitive. This explains why you might get a nosebleed after breathing in too much dry air.
Dry Air Can Worsen Eczema
If you work in a climate-controlled office all day, you probably have lip balm and hand cream next to you to soothe your dry skin and lips. However, your dry lips and skin can feel particularly painful and itchy if you have eczema.
The main symptoms of eczema are dry, flaky, and inflamed skin. Eczema sufferers who stay in dry places for a prolonged period can experience flare-ups because the dry air extracts what little moisture their skin has.
Dry Air Can Irritate Your Eyes
The body does an excellent job of lining the eyes with an invisible layer of tears every time you blink. If you’re in a place with very dry air for a few hours, you’ll notice that your eyes can start to feel irritated, red, or scratchy.
The dry air evaporates the moisture in your eyes, and you may need to use eye drops or artificial tears to soothe them.
Dry Air Can Dehydrate You
When you’re constantly exposed to dry air, your body can become dehydrated. The dry air extracts moisture from your airways and skin, and your body will try and replace the lost moisture. Not drinking enough water and failing to rehydrate your skin can worsen this problem.
How Can I Prevent Dry Air in My Home?
Now that you know how dry air can affect your health, you’re probably wondering how you can prevent it in your home. What are some tips for dry air prevention in the home?
You can prevent dry air in your home by investing in a humidifier and air-drying your laundry. You could also place trays of water in the sun, slow cook water, or buy a houseplant. You might also consider getting an aquarium.
Invest in a Humidifier
Using a humidifier is a highly effective way to increase the humidity in your home. Humidifiers release a fine and continuous water mist, and you can find ones that operate silently and cover large living areas.
Some people like to place a few drops of essential oil in their humidifiers to make the air smell fragrant.
The AquaOasis Cool Mist Humidifier (available on Amazon.com) operates ultrasonically and has an extra-large tank. It’s particularly convenient because you only need to refill it once daily.
Forget Your Tumble Dryer
Tumble drying your laundry is the fastest method, but air-drying it instead can save you money and improve your home’s air quality.
Consider investing in a clothes drying rack. As your laundry dries, it gradually releases water molecules into the air, making it less dry.
Adding fabric softener or scent boosters to your laundry acts as a homemade air freshener as the laundry dries.
Place Trays of Water in the Sun
If your house gets a lot of sunlight, placing some trays of water on sunny windowsills can provide low levels of continuous humidity.
The sun will slowly evaporate the water, causing the water molecules to rise up and enter the air. One tray of water will make a tiny difference, but placing several water trays in the sun can noticeably increase the humidity.
Slow Cook Water
Slow cooking water sounds like a pointless exercise, but it can increase the air’s moisture level throughout the day.
Operating your slow cooker at its lowest setting for several hours uses very little electricity. This method will work well if you have an open-plan design in your home.
All you need to do is fill the slow cooker’s inner pot to the brim with water and turn the appliance on. Leave the lid off so that the water molecules can escape.
Buy a Houseplant
Buying a houseplant to improve your home’s air quality is an excellent idea. If your home typically has dry air, it’s best to choose one that does well in dry conditions.
During the transpiration process, plants release tiny moisture particles into the air, making the air around them more humid. They also absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, helping to keep the oxygen levels in your home at a good level.
Below are a few examples of houseplants that thrive in a dry-air environment:
- Boston ferns
- Spider plants
- Wax plants
- String of Pearls
If you’re struggling to find a suitable plant or don’t have a green thumb, consider using a large vase of flowers instead. The flowers will improve the air quality, similar to a houseplant.
Get an Aquarium
If you’ve always wanted tropical fish but never got around to buying an aquarium, now’s your chance!
It’s normal for aquarium water to evaporate, and it can increase the humidity levels in the room. However, aquariums can be a lot of work; if you don’t want to commit to one, a goldfish in a bowl is an excellent alternative.
Opening a window does an excellent job of helping with dry air during a humid summer. Unfortunately, the same isn’t true in winter because cold air has very little moisture.
The following methods are effective at increasing the air’s humidity level and alleviating the symptoms of being exposed to continuous dry air:
- Use a humidifier.
- Air dry your laundry.
- Slow cook water.
- Buy a houseplant.
- Place trays of water in the sun.
- Get an aquarium.