Keeping the proper humidity level in your house is important for several reasons. First, hot and cold temperatures are more comfortable when humidity levels are right. That can lead to lower heating and cooling bills year-round since you’re less likely to need to run heating or A/C when the house feels comfortable. Second, humidity is a contributing factor to some health concerns like allergies, respiratory issues, and mold growth.
What is humidity and how is it measured?
In the simplest terms, humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. To measure the relative humidity in the air, compare the present amount to the potential water vapor at the current temperature. Hot air can hold more water than cold air.
Why is high humidity uncomfortable?
According to Live Science, in hot, dry weather, our bodies cool down by producing sweat that carries away body heat by evaporating. When the humidity is high in hot weather, our sweat has a harder time evaporating, so it doesn’t keep us as cool.
Are humidity levels dangerous when they’re too high or too low?
They can be. High humidity promotes mold growth, and low humidity can increase the symptoms of “Sick Building Syndrome.” This syndrome is when people, according to the EPA, “experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.” Low humidity is associated with dryness and irritability in the nose and throat.
In addition, humidity can affect allergy symptoms, though whether high or low humidity is better depends on what you’re allergic to.
Ways to reduce humidity in your house
Be sure to vent moist air to the outside whenever possible including turning on exhaust fans when you shower and venting clothes dryers and other vapor-producing appliances.
Boiling water and taking long, hot showers can increase home humidity even if you ventilate well. When possible, reduce the time you spend on activities that produce steam.
Run your A/C
Air conditioners dry out the air as they work. To get rid of high humidity in your house, you may consider running the A/C to get some of the water out of the air.
Insulate pipes and keep windows and other glass surfaces warm to prevent moisture from settling on them. Improving airflow with the use of fans and by leaving doors open can also help avoid condensation.
Use a dehumidfier
Using a dehumidifier removes water moisture from the air and reduces humidity.
What is the ideal amount of humidity in a house?
The EPA recommends a maximum of 60% relative humidity but says ideal home humidity is between 30-50%. These levels help limit mold growth. They also align with studies showing the most comfortable humidity levels for respiratory symptoms.