Humidity and the Home

As fall weather quickly approaches, many homeowners begin to breathe a sigh of relief for their energy bill — it’s finally time to turn off the A/C that’s been blasting 24/7 to keep the home comfortable. However, they might need to keep holding their breath as they might be forgetting about a different factor that plays a role in home comfort… humidity.

Simply put, humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air while relative humidity describes the air’s water vapor percentage at a given temperature. The scale ranges from 0%, which would be considered uncomfortably dry, to uncomfortably wet at 100%. For example, a 30% relative humidity means the air is holding only 30% of the moisture it is capable of holding. Ideal indoor relative humidity ranges from 30 to 50%

Those who suffer dry, cracked and irritated skin in the colder months won’t be surprised to learn that the air’s ability to hold moisture actually decreases as it gets colder. That is why homeowners must take this factor into consideration when it comes to their home’s comfort, because it can also affect the cost of heating and cooling.

There are dangers related to high humidity, they include:

· Increased risk of growing mold and bacteria
· Excessive sweating and overall discomfort
· Stuffy or uncomfortable conditions
· Increased cooling costs

The dangers of low humidity are existent as well:

· Irritated, dry and itchy skin
· Damage to interior wood, siding or paint
· Increased risk of cold or infection
· Increased heating costs

Example: Let’s say it’s a cold day outside at 10 degrees F and 70% humidity, so you set the thermostat to 72 degrees F to keep the house warm. As the cold outside air is ushered inside and heated to 72 degrees, it expands while the moisture remains the same. Even though the moisture remains the same, the relative humidity is reduced to 6% due to this expanding. You are now in the uncomfortably dry spectrum of the relative humidity chart.

To combat this low indoor relative humidity, the air will take in moisture from any place it can find, including you. As the moisture on your skin evaporates into the air you begin to feel cooler, turning up the thermostat as a result. This can lead to a cost of heating that is more expensive than necessary had the relative humidity been kept under control.

How to Combat Low Relative Humidity

The answer is simple — keep your home’s relative humidity in the comfortable 30–50% range. How? Single room humidifiers are a start but a more effective solution would be to install a humidifier directly into your HVAC system. These humidifiers are on the clock 24/7, ensuring the moisture in your home is kept at a comfortable and safe level — allowing you to turn down the thermostat a few degrees in the colder weather. This can lead to big savings on your cooling related costs this fall and winter season as a result.

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