During the summer months, the presence of humidity can make the heat feel even more uncomfortable. You may find you sweat more and feel more overheated on humid days than on dry days.
But in winter, humidity turns from a foe into a friend. Not only can a little boost in indoor air humidity levels help your immune system stave off cold and flu germs, but it can help you feel warmer and save on heating costs as well.
With the cold season rushing toward us now, this timely article offers information on why and how humidity helps you stay warmer and healthier during winter.
We will also share a list of options for keeping your indoor home humidity at optimal levels all winter long.
Your Indoor Air Humidity Goal Range
At this point, you are probably wondering what the ideal indoor air humidity range is for both health and cost. Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we recommend a range of between 30 and 50 percent humidity year-round, with the following adjustments seasonally:
- Winter: aim for a range between 30 and 45 percent.
- Summer: aim for a range between 40 and 50 percent.
Why is the range so broad? For starters, some people find they are more comfortable at the lower or higher end of the spectrum. For example, allergy and asthma sufferers often need higher humidity levels to stave off attacks.
Also, this range reflects what the outside air does naturally during different seasons. During the hot season in summer, during periods of intense rain and during some vigorous winter storms, the humidity level can rise closer to the 50 percent mark.
At other times of year, such as in deep winter and especially in the more temperate seasons of spring and fall, the humidity levels may approach the low end of this range or even lower. Working with, rather than against, what the weather outside is doing can help you save energy and money.
As well, when you have a humidity range to work with, you can achieve a general level of comfort for everyone in the household and then add extra humidity as needed through room humidifiers for individual family members.
Measuring Your Indoor Air Humidity Levels
Unless your thermostat has an inbuilt humidity gauge, the simplest way to measure your indoor air humidity levels is to use a small, affordable device called a hygrometer.
You can find a hygrometer at most home goods or hardware stores. This device will tell you what the humidity level is in any room of your home.
Hidden Causes of Winter Window Condensation
Many people think that the appearance of winter window condensation means the humidity level throughout their home is too high.
But the reality is, there are many reasons why your windows may start to produce condensation, including these common causes that are often specific to each room’s use:
- Old or leaky windows that let cold air inside.
- Poor indoor air circulation or ventilation.
- Moisture-producing activities in certain rooms, such as showering, running the dishwasher or line-drying clothing indoors.
- A damp basement, crawlspace, or attic.
- A rise in the humidity of the air outside.
- A sudden shift in indoor air temperature from cool or warm to hot.
- A plunge in outside air temperature.
- Blocked, poorly routed (or no) exhaust vents.
- Lots of windows (more space for condensation to collect).
So here, it is easy to see how not all condensation is directly related to too much overall humidity inside your home. It is also possible to have varying levels of humidity from one room to the next inside a house depending on what that room is used for.
If you regularly see condensation forming on certain windows or surfaces more than others, you can use the list above to diagnose what may be causing it and make some changes—before the condensation leads to mildew or mould growth.
How Higher Indoor Air Humidity Can Save You Cash
If you turn your thermostat down by 10 degrees, you can save about 10 percent on your home heating costs. But for many people, this level of reduction is far too uncomfortable to tolerate.
So how about this—turning your thermostat down by just 3 degrees can save you around 3 percent on your winter energy bill. You may find this much more tolerable, especially if you make the change at night when you are all bundled up in bed under thick blankets.
In the same way, increasing your indoor air humidity by just a few degrees can change your perception of the temperature and help you save money, even if the actual temperature remains the same.
Let’s say you want to keep your thermostat set to 21 degrees Celsius (~70 degrees Fahrenheit) or below. The humidity level is 25 percent, which makes your house feel much colder than the thermostat setting indicates.
Instead of hiking up the thermostat, just add some humidity back into your indoor air. Raising your indoor air humidity level by 10 percent can make your home feel up to 10 degrees warmer without touching your thermostat!
3 Options to Change Indoor Air Humidity Levels
Here are three common, reliable ways to change the humidity levels in your home on a room by room or whole home basis:
- Place a bowl of water near a heating source and let evaporation do its work.
- Use a portable humidifier in rooms with extremely low humidity.
- Install a whole home humidifier to even out the humidity in your home.
Save 20 Percent on Whole Home Humidifiers Now!
Right now, you can save 20 percent on a whole home humidifier by participating in Clean Air Solutions Hamilton’s Breathe Clean Air event!
To learn more and reserve your 20 percent discount, give us a call at 905-544-2470.