What are the ideal humidity levels in your home? The answer, as you might imagine, depends on the season. In this blog post, we'll break down the ideal humidity levels for both summer and winter so you can keep your home comfortable all year long.
What is Humidity? Do I Need to Worry About it in My Home?
Humidity is the measure of water vapor in the air. Humidity in the home plays an important role in your family’s health and well-being. The humidity level of your home can affect your living environment more than you might realize. Too much humidity can lead to the growth of mold or mildew, which in turn can cause respiratory problems. Too little humidity can similarly result in respiratory purposes due to air that is too dry. With the correct humidity levels, it is possible to minimize health risks and maintain a comfortable environment for all occupants.
Effects of Low Humidity
Low humidity in the home can be just as dangerous to your health as high humidity. When the indoor relative humidity is too low, it can cause various problems including dry eyes, chapped lips, dry skin, and nosebleeds. Low humidity can also aggravate respiratory illnesses, including asthma, allergies, and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). As the mucous membranes in your nose and throat dry out, it increases your chance of catching colds and other respiratory illnesses.
Long-term exposure to low humidity can affect wood flooring, furniture, paint, wallpaper, doors and windows, and even houseplants. In the case of wood flooring or wood around your doors, low humidity can cause the wood to shrink. Plants may also be damaged or die due to low humidity, so pay close attention their required humidity levels.
Effects of High Humidity
The effects of high humidity on a home is well documented, and a good professional HVAC specialist will help identify any problems forming in your home. Here are our four most common findings with high humidity environments:
Many types of mold and mildew thrive in moist environments, and these can cause respiratory problems including allergies and asthma. Excess moisture also creates an ideal habitat for dust mites, which are known to trigger allergic reactions or even asthma attacks in some people.
Prolonged periods of high relative humidity can also lead to a sense of discomfort due to clammy skin or a “sticky” feeling of air that makes it difficult to breathe deeply or comfortably. In addition to this physical discomfort, prolonged periods with high humidity levels can cause an increase in irritability or fatigue due to the inability to cool down properly from warm temperatures.
High humidity in the home can also damage wood like your floors. Prolonged humidity can lead to warping or crowning of your floorboards, doors, cupboards, drawers and other furniture and later cause further damage when shrinking in colder seasons.
Finally, higher humidity levels often lead to an increase in energy bills due to greater reliance on air conditioning systems for cooling purposes. This is because hot and humid air requires more energy for cooling than dryer air does – meaning your HVAC system has to work harder during periods with
What is the Ideal Humidity Level in Winter?
Winter humidity levels are a key factor for keeping your space comfortable during the colder months of the year. With humidity that is too low, it can lead to dry skin, sinus issues, and exacerbated allergic conditions. On the other hand, humidity that is too high can cause vapor build-ups on walls and windows and create a breeding ground for mold spores in unseen areas. The ideal humidity levels in winter is typically in the range of 30% - 40%, depending on your personal preferences. Consistent humidity monitoring through your thermostat or smart devices will help keep your humidity in balance.
What is the Ideal Humidity Level in the Summer?
During the summer months, home humidity levels should be kept between 40% - 50% percent relative humidity. However, high indoor humidity can still cause discomfort and health problems when it gets too high, as previously mentioned. Keeping home humidity at a comfortable level during summer is essential for both efficient cooling performance and home comfort overall.
How to Ensure You Maintain a Comfortable Humidity Level
Keeping the ideal humidity level in your home year-round is easy with a whole-home humidifier and/or a dehumidifier. A whole-home humidifier works in conjunction with your HVAC system to add humidity to your entire home. And in the opposite sense, a dehumidifier helps remove humidity from your home. The following are a few suggestions to achieve a more comfortable humidity level in your home.
Low indoor humidity levels can contribute to a decrease in comfort levels. When the environment is too dry, it tends to feel colder than the actual temperature - this is because air with low relative humidity has lower specific heat capacity. This means that your body won't be able to retain heat as well to keep you warm. As a result, people who live in environments with excessively dry air might find themselves increasing their thermostat settings more frequently than average to feel comfortable, which in turn increases your heating costs.In this situation, a whole-home humidifier is perfect to raise the humidity level to a preference that feels good to you. Try raising the humidity level a few percentages upwards every day or two until you feel more comfortable overall.
As mentioned above, a high humidity level in the home not only can use up a lot of energy by forcing your HVAC system to work hard, it will make you feel quite uncomfortable. A dehumidifier in this situation will work wonders to remove the humid air from your home. As mentioned previously, if your humidity level is above 50%, utilize the dehumidifier to lower your relative humidity and then keep lowering until you feel comfortable.
With a humidifier and dehumidifier on your side, you can achieve a perfect balance no matter what the season.
If you would like help assessing your home to achieve the perfect balance of humidity in the winter or summer in Massachusetts, give our technicians at Home Mechanics a call. We would love to come help identify a few ways to improve your comfort all year-round.