Ask the Expert: Humidity in Your Home

We often consider humidity to be a nuisance or at the very least, we think of humidity in our air to be a negative thing. It can make our hair uncontrollable, hot summer temperatures more difficult to cope with and too much humidity may cause mold, mildew and a “stuffy” feeling in the air. However, lack of humidity can be detrimental, too. During the cold winter months, a lack of humidity causes dry skin, irritated throats and static electricity issues.

Humidity is actually a necessary component for good indoor air quality; and, at the right proper balance, it can ward off many unpleasant conditions, issues and problems. When humidity levels are too low, it can cause irritated, dry eyes, dry, itchy skin, sore throats and even some rashes. If humidity is too high, water damage can result, people in the home can become uncomfortable, and mold and dust mites can flourish. Furthermore, especially during cold weather, higher humidity ranges can cause structural damage because of condensation. The experts at Neighbors can help you achieve and maintain optimal humidity levels in your home.

So although it’s safe to say that humidity in your home is crucial, balance is the key. That being said, following are some vital points to keep in mind:

  • It’s important to distinguish between “humidity” and “relative humidity”. The percentage of water vapor in the air at a specific temperature, compared to the amount of water vapor the air is capable of holding at that temperature is what makes it “relative”.
  • Warm air holds more water vapor than cold air; when air contains all the water vapor it can hold at that temperature, the relative humidity is 100%. When air is saturated with water vapor, it is said to have reached its “dew point”, where water vapor condenses and produces visible condensation.
  • The human body is most comfortable when relative humidity is between 20-60%. In your home, an ideal relative humidity of 30-50% is appropriate.

Sources of Humidity in the Home:

  • Cooking for a family of four produces about five pints of water in a 24-hour period.
  • Showering puts ½ pint of water into the air, and taking a bath adds 1/8 pint of water.
  • The breath from one person produces ¼ cup of water every hour.
  • Outdoor humidity levels affect indoor levels, depending upon how tightly sealed and constructed a structure is.

Tips for Lowering Humidity in Your Home:

  • Use a dehumidifier in the summer.
  • Cook with pans covered.
  • Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and over your stove or open a window every so often to bring in cooler, dry air.
  • Take shorter showers with cooler water.
  • Have Neighbors install fresh air intake ducts to introduce outside air to the home.
  • Consider installing an air-to-air heat exchanger (consult a qualified contractor).
  • Reduce the number of plants in your home or water them less often; they release water vapor into the air.

Tips for Increasing the Humidity in Your Home:

  • Add a humidifier; there are three standard types: portable/room, power, and evaporating.
  • Cook without lids on pans when able.
  • Opt to take showers instead of baths.
  • Add more plants to your home.
  • Have us evaluate your home to see if additional sealing from the inside is a viable option.

For more information on regulating the humidity levels in your home, contact Neighbors today! We serve customers throughout the Ames, Iowa area and can help you choose a humidifier for your home and help with all other indoor climate issues as well.