Whatever type of climate you are living in, the relative humidity levels in the air can have an effect on the comfort levels in your home and the proper function of your air conditioning and heating units. Proper management of ideal indoor humidity must be the top priority for all homeowners, particularly when you want to tailor your cooling and heating preferences to suit the specific needs of your home.
What is the ideal humidity in a house, then? The ideal level of relative humidity in a house for comfort and health is around 40% to 50%. During winter months, it could be less than 40% relative humidity to avoid condensation on windows.
How to Measure Indoor Humidity Levels
Do you lack the sixth sense to determine the humidity levels in your home? Well, don’t worry because no one has this kind of ability. Good thing that there are several simple ways to help you determine if your home has too high or too low humidity levels.
Increased cases of static electricity, cracking and dried paint and milkwort are an indication of low levels of humidity. Condensation and fogging on windows, mold and moisture occurring ceilings and walls are an indication of excessive humidity.
In case you are really serious about checking humidity, there is a device you can use. This is a hygrometer that can accurately read the humidity levels of your home. You can find one for a cheap price online and you can choose between an analog or digital hygrometer.
What Can You Do During Low Humidity Levels?
During winter months specifically, levels of humidity drop because there is lesser moisture in the cold air compared to warm air. Houses that use forced air heating usually experience a worse problem since furnaces are using combustion to produce hot air. This then burns out most of existing water vapor. Things only get worse when the humidity levels become too low and ambient air will feel cooler compared to humid environments, which then makes you turn up heat in order to compensate.
The low levels of humidity can cause static electricity, increased susceptibility to respiratory illness and colds, dry hair and skin, and can even allow germs and viruses to thrive. Millwork, furniture, and wood floors will crack and split, paint will start to chip, while electronics can get damaged as a result of low levels of humidity.
Here are some of the things you can do when the humidity levels dip too low:
- Natural evaporation
Putting moisture back to the air can be something as simple a putting a water vessel next to or on top of a radiator or any other air heating systems.. It is a very low power and low-tech method but the humidity and strength controls will be limited. The available moisture will also depend on the size of the water vessel you used and you need to refill it often as well. Having your wet clothes and towels dry out is also another way for introducing moisture to the air.
- Room or portable humidifier
Portable humidifiers are the most common types of humidifier you can find in the market today. This is the type of unit that you can just set down on your floor or any other flat surface. You can choose from two types, the warm mist and cool mist. These two are both using a reservoir for holding water.
The cool mist humidifiers use a wick for absorbing the water while a fan is blowing the air though moistened filter. While air passes through its filter, it will evaporate some water back to the room.
A warm mist humidifier uses a heating element which will heat the water before it gets dispersed to the air. The main benefit of portable systems is the fact that these are very easy to use and you can choose from different prices and styles depending on your needs.
You can also move them as you please. However, just like the evaporative method mentioned above, measure and control of relative humidity will be limited and you need to refill the reservoir every 24 hours or so.
- Whole house humidifier
A whole house humidifier is the best and probably most controllable system of humidity that you can add to the furnace so that vapor will be directly distributed to the heated air before it circulates around your house through the normal duct system. A whole house humidifier can be a quite expensive option that needs enough space for the unit and a cold water connection. Whole house humidifiers let you control the levels of humidity through the device called humidistat. This method has the best humidification capacity and offers the highest level of consistency all in all.
What Can You Do During High Humidity Levels?
It is also possible for a home to have excessive humidity, particularly in certain regions, and this creates its own unique set of issues.
If the levels of humidity are too high, you may start to notice condensation all around the house, particularly on your windows during winter months.
When the moist and warm air indoors comes into contact with the cold air on the outer side of your windows, the temperature will drop, making the air lose the water vapor it holds, causing condensation.
If a house lacks the right natural and mechanical ventilation, the air’s excessive water vapor can travel through ceilings and walls and cause peeling paint, wet insulation, rot in woodwork, and mold growth on walls. You can try the following steps to lower your home’s humidity levels:
- Turn off or turn down your humidifier if you are using one.
- Use a dehumidifier specifically during summer and in basements.
- Use exhaust fans when you cook or take a bath or open your window if the air outside is fresher and drier.
- Use an energy recovery ventilator if you have a tightly constructed home.
Reduce the water amount introduced to your home through cooking while keeping the pots covered, taking shorter and cooler showers, venting the clothes dryer directly outside, and decreasing the number of plants inside the house.