Many people think of humidity as hot, heavy and sticky outdoor air, but it’s important to also consider your home’s indoor humidity levels. Managing your indoor humidity should be a priority for every homeowner, especially when it comes to the comfort of your home and your health.
So let’s talk about humidity; the causes of low or high humidity, the effects of humidity around your home and how to manage humidity during each season.
What is humidity?
Humidity refers to the amount of water vapour in the air. If the humidity is high, it means there’s a lot of water vapour content in the air. Conversely, if it is too low, the air will be dry. Humidity is usually referred to as relative humidity in meteorology and weather reports.
For a comfortable home, maintaining a relative humidity level between 30 and 50% is typically ideal. Anything above or below these figures would be considered too high or too low. To know the level of humidity in your home, you’ll need a hygrometer.
What causes low or high humidity?
When it comes to low and high humidity levels, there are a number of reasons for why these things happen.
- Low humidity: When cold, dry air enters a home that is heated, the overall humidity level can go down. Low humidity can also be caused by overusing a dehumidifier or excess air conditioning.
- High humidity: High humidity can be caused by certain human activities like drying clothes indoors, boiling water and showering. If none of these factors apply, your home may be due for an inspection of the ventilation and insulation.
Signs of high indoor humidity
Excessive humidity is uncomfortable and tiring. If left unchecked, it can lead to the following:
- Growth of mould, fungi, mildew and germs
- Lower indoor air quality and contamination
- Illness, asthma attacks and allergic reactions
- Water or drywall damage
- Condensation on the walls and windows
- Higher energy bills from turning down the temperature on the thermostat
- Muggy feeling at home
Signs of low indoor humidity
Dry indoor air is undesirable and could also affect health and comfort in the following ways:
- Worsening asthma and allergy symptoms
- Quicker spread of germs
- Dry and itchy skin, chapped lips and dry airways
- Higher energy bills when you turn up the heat to stay warm
- Damage and cracks to structures like the trim, flooring, window and door frames
How to manage humidity with your HVAC
When the humidity level inside your home is too high or too low, you can use your HVAC unit to achieve a healthy humidity level. The following solutions can be followed during winter and summer.
- Winter humidification: To increase humidity in cold, dry indoor air, using a humidifier with your HVAC system will add moisture back into the air before it starts circulating inside your home. Newer HVAC systems have built-in humidifiers that also turn on automatically when necessary. When the air maintains the right level of moisture, your house will warm faster, and you’ll feel relieved from symptoms caused by air dryness.
- Summer dehumidification: Moisture can intensify the heat of the summer, so it’s important to remove it to cool the air. You can do this through dehumidification which can be achieved by turning your air conditioning on and setting it to the right temperature. Alternatively, you can install a dehumidifier to do the job.
Importance of humidity control
High or low humidity can make you feel uncomfortable in your own home. Using your HVAC system can help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Make sure to stay on the lookout for the effects of low or high humidity around your home and adjust your HVAC system during the proper seasons.