If you want to feel comfortable inside your house, you have to make sure that not only the temperature of the air is right – proper humidity levels are just as important.
The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that indoor humidity should be kept between 30% and 50%. Homeowners have to make sure that the relative humidity inside their house does not exceed 60% as too much moisture promotes the growth of mold and mildew.
What is relative humidity anyway and is there anything that you can do to control the moisture levels in your house? Here are the answers you’ve been looking for.
What Is Relative Humidity?
Relative humidity indicates the ratio of the amount of vapor present in the air at the moment to the highest amount possible at a given temperature.
We, humans, are extremely sensitive to the level of humidity as it affects our ability to sweat.
The higher the relative humidity of the air, the less sweat is going to evaporate.
If the humidity is high, we are going to feel much hotter than the actual temperature and if the level of moisture in the air is low, we are going to feel colder as the sweat can easily evaporate and cool our bodies off.
|75 F||Relative humidity – 0%||Feels like 69 F|
|75 F||Relative humidity – 100%||Feels like 80 F|
As soon as fall and winter come, the temperature starts to drop and the same happens to the humidity levels.
That’s exactly why a lot of homeowners keep their humidifiers running throughout the cold season and turn them off once the temperature begins to rise.
Why Is Proper Humidity Important?
If the humidity levels are just right, staying inside is going to become much more enjoyable for you. In a nutshell, humidity determines your home’s comfort level.
The not-so-obvious benefit is that proper humidity can help avoid running your HVAC system at its full capacity. Simply adjust the amount of moisture in the air and you are going to feel either warmer, or cooler without touching the thermostat.
What Is the Proper Humidity for Your Home?
According to the EPA, the indoor humidity levels have to be between 30% and 50%. There are studies that say that the range between 40% and 60% is a bit better.
Anyway, all experts agree that the relative humidity should not exceed 60% and, taking into consideration the ranges mentioned above, you won’t go wrong if you manage to keep the humidity between 40% and 50%.
Why Are Low Humidity Levels Bad for You?
- Respiratory issues
Low humidity leads to irritated sinus membranes, as a result, you are going to feel like your nose is congested all the time.
Moreover, it is easier for various viruses to survive, if there isn’t enough moisture in the air.
In case someone, for example, sneezes, low humidity is going to make the droplet dry out, leaving the virus to flow in the air independently. Of course, getting infected in such conditions becomes much easier.
- Dry eyes
Usually, our eyes have a healthy tear film that keeps them moisturized. Low humidity makes this film dry out.
You are going to constantly feel discomfort and you will also start to blink more often which makes it harder for you to focus on different tasks.
- Various skin conditions
Anyone who once had itchy and scaly skin knows that it’s a very unpleasant condition.
However, the main danger of dry air is that it makes cracks form on your skin creating an entry point for different infections.
- Increased heating bills
Low humidity makes the air in your house feel colder. That means that you’ll end up jacking up the heat.
Fact: running your furnace one degree warmer will raise your monthly heating bill by around $3.
- House damage
If you have wooden floors or furniture, low humidity is going to make the pieces crack and shrink as it literally sucks out all the moisture out of the items.
Wallpaper and paint are also going to dry out, so you would have to deal with peels and chips.
As a result, low humidity levels make you spend much more on house maintenance and various repairs.
- Static electricity
Static electricity doesn’t only make your hair look strange. It also affects plenty of other things in your house.
So, every time you touch a fabric, for example, you are going to receive an unpleasant jolt.
Moreover, static electricity can cause damage to sensitive electronics.
Why Are High Humidity Levels Bad for You?
In a lot of cases, high humidity can be just as bad as low humidity levels.
As your body is not able to sweat, when the humidity levels are high, you will start breathing more rapidly and the heart will begin to pump more blood to your legs and arms (and less to the internal organs).
As a result, homeowners might feel foggy, get muscle cramps, or even faint. In the most severe cases, people can develop a heat stroke.
- Increased chances of allergies
Allergy sufferers hate fungi and dust mites, and these things flourish in high humidity conditions.
- Increased chances of asthma
Fungi and mold can provoke asthma even in people who don’t usually experience such respiratory issues.
- An increased level of airborne chemical contaminants
Did you know that building materials can emit dangerous chemical contaminants under certain conditions?
Wood and even carpets will start to release various chemicals into the air, as soon as the humidity levels rise.
This might lead to throat, eye, and skin irritation.
- House damage
When the humidity levels are high, condensation will start to gather on your house’s walls. This will result in curly wallpaper and flaky paint.
If there is too much moisture in the air for a prolonged period, your furniture and floors might begin to rot.
Finally, high humidity can cause damage to the structure of the house. Moisture will condense in the walls, your basement, crawl space, and even the foundation.
- Growth of mold and mildew
We all know that mold can be found in the majority of bathrooms, where the humidity levels are relatively high practically all of the time.
But if the amount of moisture in the air increases throughout the whole house, mildew and mold are going to grow everywhere.
These things cause allergies, trigger asthma, and will, eventually, destroy the material that they have contaminated.
How to Manage Humidity?
Thankfully, there are quite a few ways that will help you maintain proper humidity levels in your house.
The first thing that you should consider doing is getting a humidistat – a special device that is going to monitor the amount of moisture in the air.
However, monitoring the humidity levels in your house is not enough. At times, you would have to take certain measures to control moisture.
To Increase Humidity
- Use a humidifier
- Hang the laundry indoors
- Try cooking without lids
- Get more houseplants
- Leave the water in the bath after bathing to cool
- Leave the door to the bathroom open, when taking a shower
- Place bowls of water next to heat sources
- Open the dishwasher before the last drying cycle
To Decrease Humidity
- Fix leaks
- Improve the ventilation in the crawlspaces
- Use exhaust fans (especially, in the kitchen and bathrooms)
- Use a dehumidifier
- Promote heat circulation by moving your furniture away from wall corners and using fans
- Avoid using carpets, if possible
- Consider installing storm windows
- Make sure that the ground is sloping away from the house
How Can Your HVAC System Control the Humidity in Your Home?
The majority of modern heating and cooling systems are able to control the humidity levels in your house.
The unit’s evaporator coil, for example, helps lower the humidity. This part of the system is able to condense water vapor from the air.
When the moist air travels through the cold evaporator coil, the liquid is condensed from the air.
You can also go for a ducted whole-house dehumidifier.
The device will not only lower the humidity levels in your house but will also enhance the cooling properties of the HVAC system.
Tip: pay extra attention to the evaporator coil and the drain pan as that’s where moisture can gather causing bacterial growth.
When it comes to increasing the humidity levels in your house, you can choose to install a whole-house humidification system directly into your HVAC system.
Tip: to let the HVAC system work its magic, you have to make sure that you have a unit of the right size.
To Sum Up
Now you know what is the proper humidity for home and why.
High humidity can be just as harmful as low levels of moisture. Inappropriate humidity levels affect people’s health and can cause damage to your house.
That’s why it is incredibly important to keep the humidity in your house between 30% and 50%.