Humidity is the amount of water vapor present in the air “expressed as a percentage of the amount needed for saturation at the same temperature.” The ability of the air to hold water changes as the temperature goes up or down. A humidity level no higher than 50% is optimal as a general rule of thumb, but the best level depends on the temperature outside. Knowing what is considered high humidity can increase the comfort level in your home.
The level of humidity, whether outdoors or inside your home, is a big factor in your comfort level. Not only is proper humidity important for your comfort, it is also important to your health. When the humidity is too high, you can have problems with mold and allergies. When the humidity is too low, you can experience dry skin and annoying static electricity. Having the perfect humidity level makes the outside air feel fresh and the inside air comfortable.
Installing a humidifier with a humidistat function can keep the humidity levels comfortable in your home and reduce your energy bills. Here is why:
The Humidity Level in the Wintertime
Outdoor humidity levels are lower in winter. Running your furnace to heat your home further reduces the humidity indoors. As a result, the air inside your home is drier in winter than in summer. If the indoor air is not humid enough, you may experience static electricity and dry skin. You can also experience frequent nosebleeds, chapped lips, sinus infections, and sore throats. All of these issues are symptoms of too much dryness. Excessively dry air quality can also take a toll on your wooden furniture or floors. Too dry air can cause your wood furniture, floors, door and window frames to splinter and crack. It may also aggravate asthma and allergies.
You may feel cold because the dry air is robbing moisture from your skin, causing you to turn the heat up even more. This is a cycle that only aggravates your discomfort and raises your energy costs.
How Do I Achieve Optimum Indoor Humidity in Winter?
To achieve the optimum indoor humidity level in the winter, many homeowners use humidifiers. Even in humid regions of the country, a humidifier in the winter months makes the indoor air more comfortable. You will feel warmer without turning up the heat. With a humidifier, however, you need to adjust the humidity level as the outdoor temperature changes. If the indoor humidity gets too high, condensation will form on your windows. Excessive moisture during bathroom showers and baths can develop as well.
To avoid condensation issues with a humidifier, keep the humidity level at or below 40% when the outdoor temperature is 20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower the humidity level to 35% or less when the outdoor temperature is 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. You can avoid manual adjustments by having your HVAC contractor install a humidifier with a humidistat function. It will automatically make the necessary adjustments for you.
High Humidity Levels in the Summertime
Summertime temperatures in many regions of the United States bring uncomfortably high levels of humidity. High humidity can wreak havoc on your home and on your health.
When you run your air conditioner, the air indoors will be cooler than the outside air. The cooler indoor air and the hot outdoor air will cause condensation to form on your windows. Eventually, pooling condensation can rot your window trim. At certain levels of humidity, you will have dust mite infestations. Dust mites are a health issue especially for people with allergies.
Dangers of High Humidity in Summer
High humidity indoors can also cause your paint and wallpaper to peel, your wood floors to cup and buckle, and your furniture to become mildewed. It can even affect the structure of your home, invisible to you until you need major repairs. High indoor humidity also creates an environment that fosters the growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold, and mildew, which in turn can lead to unhealthy indoor air quality. These microorganisms can create serious health problems for people with severe allergies or asthma.
High humidity indoors makes you feel hot and uncomfortable. You may choose to run your air conditioner more, when in fact the real issue is that the humidity is too high.
Using a Dehumidifier
Knowing what is considered high humidity is important when determining how to improve your indoor air quality in the summer. The easiest way to combat these destructive high levels of humidity indoors is to use a dehumidifier. You can purchase a small portable dehumidifier inexpensively and operate it in the summer months. Some portable dehumidifiers can be configured so that they drain continuously, but care should be taken to ensure that the drainage is not impeded. Other portable dehumidifiers do not drain continuously. These require manually emptying the water bucket when it is full, or the machine automatically shuts off.
With a dehumidifier, you can keep the humidity level below 50%. To further reduce dust mite issues, remove carpeting and use anti-allergen bedding. Ideally, the indoor summertime humidity level should be between 40 and 50%. Portable dehumidifiers do not offer the ability to precisely regulate the humidity levels. Nonetheless, even a portable dehumidifier will make the indoor air more comfortable, enabling you to run your air conditioner less.
How Best to Regulate the Humidity Levels in Your Home
As mentioned above, you can control the humidity levels in your home by having an experienced HVAC contractor install a whole-home humidifier system with a humidistat function. These systems will automatically work with your home’s HVAC systems to add or remove moisture from the air as needed.
Guidelines For Optimal Humidity
It is important to know what is considered high humidity. Below are some guidelines for optimal humidity levels based on the outdoor temperature.
When the outdoor temperature is:
- Over 50˚F, indoor humidity levels should be less than 50%
- Over 20˚F, indoor humidity levels should be less than 40%
- Between 10˚F and 20˚F, indoor humidity levels should be less than 35%
- Between 0˚F and 10˚F, indoor humidity levels should be less than 30%
- Between -10˚F and 0˚F, indoor humidity levels should be less than 25%
- Between -20˚F and -10˚F, indoor humidity levels should be less than 20%
- At -20˚F or lower, indoor humidity levels should be less than 15%
Any percentage above these levels is considered high humidity.
Contact a Reputable HVAC Contractor for More Information
Setting your humidistat or dehumidifier at the correct setting can create a more comfortable and safe environment for you and your family. The dangers of humidity levels in your home being too high or low can cause serious health problems and can even harm the integrity of your furniture. If you are unsure about how to find the perfect humidity levels for your home or are in need of a new humidifier or humidistat installation, professional services can save you from an unhealthy home. For more information about what is considered high humidity in the summer, or how a humidifier and humidistat system can improve the comfort level in your home, contact a professional HVAC contractor at Presidential Heat and Air.