The humidity in your home impacts everything from heating and cooling efficiency to your health. Maintaining an ideal indoor humidity level can extend the life of HVAC systems, hinder the growth of mold and mildew, and keep allergy and asthma symptoms at bay. Using the HVAC system is one of the easiest ways to control indoor humidity.
What Is the Ideal Indoor Humidity Level?
ENERGY STAR recommends an ideal indoor humidity level of somewhere between 30% and 50%. Wintertime brings about lower humidity levels, which contribute to itchy skin, chapped lips, and dry eyes. It’s common for indoor humidity levels to dip as low as 10% during the colder parts of the year. During the summer, the opposite occurs, with too much moisture being released into the air.
To increase humidity in a home, you have to add moisture. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a humidifier. Humidifiers are commonly used during the cooler seasons when humidity levels tend to drop.
Just like any other electrical device, humidifiers need to be cleaned and maintained as often as the manufacturer recommends. If you don’t clean your humidifier regularly, hazardous germs will thrive and spread, posing a major health risk.
The dry air of winter can make your eyes, nose, and throat feel uncomfortable. The Mayo Clinic suggests using a humidifier to relieve these symptoms. The added moisture can increase the lubrication of your eyes, and it helps restore moisture in the pharyngeal and nasal passages.
According to health professionals, some patients get relief from upper respiratory tract infections, chest infections, and nasal congestion by inhaling warm, humid air. This makes it all the more important to use a humidifier when feeling under the weather.
During the warmer months of the year, it’s easy for indoor humidity in the Tampa area to be higher than the recommended 50%. To pull this excess moisture out of the air, you can use a dehumidifier. In doing so, you’ll also impede the growth and spread of mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors.
Dehumidifiers are known for preventing mold on textiles like blankets, drapes, and mattresses. For people with breathing problems, this advantage is very important because it translates into keeping harmful substances to a minimum. A dehumidifier can help get humidity levels under control in as little as seven days as long as it’s placed in a well-ventilated area.
Whether you use a humidifier or dehumidifier, you should check the humidity in your home by hand daily with a hygrometer, either analog or digital. This tool gives you a more accurate humidity reading and helps you avoid going below the minimum humidity level recommendation of 30%.
If you overuse a dehumidifier, it can result in too little moisture in the air, which can:
- Increase static electricity
- Spread viruses and germs
- Cause paint to chip
- Cause wood furniture to crack
- Damage electronic devices
Ceiling Fans and Kitchen and Bathroom Fans
Putting up ceiling fans is an easy, inexpensive, and effective way to lower the humidity in a room when it’s hot outside. Turning on a ceiling fan creates a wind chill effect because the air moves about the room and evaporates moisture. Fans also do an excellent job at minimizing the buildup of condensation on windows.
You probably already have fans installed in your house to help with humidity control. Fan ventilation systems, like the ones in bathrooms and above stoves, are a key part of keeping the relative humidity in the home at a comfortable level. The purpose of these fans is to eliminate extra moisture in the air that results from activities like bathing and cooking. Always turn the fan on in the bathroom during your shower and for a minimum of 10 minutes afterward to eliminate the humidity. The same is true of the kitchen fan.
Even though ceiling fans and fan ventilation systems can help reduce moisture in a home, they aren’t as effective as dehumidifiers and air conditioning systems. The latter two devices physically remove moisture from the air, whereas fans do not.
If the conditions are right, the humidity will form on any window, no matter what brand it is and regardless of its composition. Aluminum and wooden frame windows are particularly susceptible to letting in too much moisture.
Closing off rooms and opening windows won’t solve an indoor humidity problem. It can, however, slightly reduce interior humidity levels, making it less likely for window condensation to occur on a regular basis. Installing storm windows and adding weatherstripping can also reduce window condensation and indoor moisture.
The condenser coils on an air conditioner take in warm air and moisture from the air inside your home. With the moisture and heat trapped, the only air left for the AC to blow out is cold air. This is how an air conditioner works. But what happens to all that moisture and heat that the coils trapped to produce the cooled air? The answer depends on your AC’s fan setting.
In homes with excess moisture, it’s tempting to set the fan to the “ON” position so that it will operate around the clock to reduce humidity. However, this setting actually results in blowing the removed moisture right back into the home.
As the AC cycles, it needs time to drain the moisture that it captures. It does this during a period of time when the fan kicks off. When set to the “ON” position, the fan never kicks off, and the AC never gets a chance to drain moisture, which increases the likelihood of frozen coils.
Keeping all this in mind, when using the HVAC system to regulate humidity, always set the fan to the “AUTO” position. This ensures that the system will operate with optimal efficiency and won’t further complicate the humidity level in your house or damage itself.
Lastly, besides controlling the temperature in your house, smart thermostat devices can detect and control humidity to keep it at a comfortable level. Humidity-regulating smart thermostats are a useful tool for cutting down on utility bills. Overly humid conditions might force your air conditioner to work harder than it should. In other words, your energy use will increase, and so will your costs.
With a smart thermostat, you can rest easy knowing the device works in conjunction with the HVAC system to maintain a proper humidity level and therefore improve HVAC efficiency. Remote access to your HVAC system is another major advantage of using a smart thermostat to control indoor humidity. With remote access, you gain more precise control over your indoor comfort.
Get Control of Indoor Humidity Today!
Is your home’s humidity hard to control? In addition to humidity control, we can help improve your home’s indoor air quality overall. We also perform a complete line of heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repair services as well as roofing services. Contact us at Protek Roofing, Heating, Air & Solar today to learn how we help people just like you across the Tampa area adjust moisture levels in their homes to improve their indoor comfort.