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Regardless of the climate you live in, managing ideal humidity for your home (in winter months as well as summer months) should be a priority for every homeowner. The truth is, the levels of indoor humidity in the air can affect your health, the comfort of your home, and the proper functioning of your cooling and heating systems.
While everyone has their own preferences when it comes to indoor humidity levels in their home, experts maintain that the ideal indoor humidity levels can help you avoid ill health effects.
A level of humidity that’s either too high or low can cause health problems as well as damage to your house.
What is humidity, and what is a good humidity level for a house?
Humidity refers to the amount of moisture present in the air. And, relative humidity is calculated as the percentage of water vapor in the air at a particular temperature. For example, if the relative humidity of your home is 30 percent, that means that the air contains 30 percent of the moisture that it’s capable of holding.
As the outdoor, as well as indoor temperatures fluctuate, the capacity of the air to hold water changes. That’s why, during winters, the air’s ability to hold moisture decreases while during summers it increases.
Most indoor air quality experts believe that the ideal humidity for a home in winter is 35% to 50%. This is considered comfortable indoor humidity. Any humidity level that’s in excess of 60 percent has the potential to give you certain health issues — apart from making your living space uncomfortable.
This indoor relative humidity level also helps to prevent the growth of microorganisms in your house — therefore, impacting your overall health. In addition, it potentially reduces the cost of heating or cooling in your home as it ensures that your HVAC systems work efficiently.
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The ideal humidity for a home in winter
Right humidity levels will help you and your home feel cool in the summer and warm in the winter. To get into specifics, the average humidity level should be between 30 to 50 percent during summer months and lower than 40% during winters to avoid condensation on your home windows.
If levels are not properly maintained, it could make you and your family members susceptible to respiratory disorders and discomfort. Moreover, improper humidity levels could damage both the inside as well as the outside of your home.
Your air conditioning system too may not be sufficient to remove the excess moisture inside your home. You may require additional equipment, including a whole-home ventilation system or a humidification system.
Otherwise, it may lead to ice and water forming on the windows during winters. Very soon, the extra moisture will start to collect along the wall and cavities of your attic — leading to serious problems. That’s why lower outdoor temperatures will require a home with lower humidity levels.
How to measure a home’s humidity level?
A hygrometer is a tool that’s used to measure humidity in the air or ground. You can either invest in an analog hygrometer (that uses a moisture-sensitive material attached to a coil spring to show the relative humidity on a dial) or a digital hygrometer (that uses a sensor to measure changes in the current and convert it to a digital format on an LCD screen).
Problems due to low humidity levels
- Causes dry skin, eyes, nose, and throat.
- Easy spread of viruses.
- Makes existing health issues worse, including allergies, colds, or influenza.
- A feeling of cold and chill as the air is too dry.
- Higher energy bills and heating costs.
- Weakening of furniture items.
- Gaps in hardwood flooring over time.
- May damage electronic devices.
Tips for bringing up low humidity levels
- Using a room humidifier, exhaust fans, or adding a humidifier to your HVAC system.
- Sealing cracks around doors and windows.
- Replacing doors and windows with newer, more energy-efficient ones.
- Upgrading your house’s weather-resistant barrier.
- Keeping exterior doors closed as much as possible to prevent draft.
Problems due to high humidity levels
- Promotes growth and spread of mold, mildew, and bacteria.
- Mold spores in the air cause musty odor as well as respiratory illness.
- Makes conditions such as asthma and allergy worse.
- Excessive moisture may rot your house’s framing, roofing, and flooring.
- Higher electricity bill.
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Tips for bringing down high humidity levels
- Sealing your home properly.
- Getting energy-efficient doors and windows.
- Upgrading house wrap.
- Installing a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture.
- Getting a two-stage or variable-capacity model, preferable with a dry mode, for your central air conditioner or window AC.
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Maintaining the ideal humidity for your home in winter
As the climate changes, with fluctuating temperature, the air will turn extra dry or extra moist. It’s important that you maintain the ideal relative humidity in your home. It will provide you maximum comfort and health.
Perfect indoor humidity levels won’t cause moisture issues or health problems. The best way is to use a hygrometer to accurately measure the relative humidity level in your house and use a suitable humidifier. It’s important that you make your living space the haven that it’s supposed to be!
Read more: 5 Ways to prepare your home for winter