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Ideal Winter Indoor Air Humidity Levels for Your Family’s Health, Comfort and Home Safety
Finding the right balance of humidity has never felt more complicated than in this pandemic age.
For example, winter indoor humidity is no longer simply about preventing home fires or lowering heating bills.
Indoor air humidity is also a known factor in the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
Today, maintaining optimal winter indoor humidity has never felt more complicated....or vital.
In this post, learn how to keep your home or workplace sufficiently humid to help improve overall safety, health and comfort.
The Link Between Humidity and COVID-19
Even before COVID-19, researchers already knew that humidity boosts our immune system's defences by aiding in the production of respiratory mucus. They also knew that mucus is what traps potentially harmful airborne elements and prevents movement down deep into the lungs and the body.
The connection between humidity and stopping the spread of COVID-19 was, however, not initially realized.
First, the prospect of heat was investigated, which didn't work. Next, the cold, which also didn't work.
What did end up helping to limit the spread of this virus?
Increasing indoor air humidity.
Airborne viral droplets were seen to have degraded faster in more humid air. They were also heavier and, once airborne, could not travel as far.
Suddenly humidity became quite popular. But how can you capitalize on the benefits of higher humidity for COVID-19 protection at home this winter?
Unfortunately, it isn't quite so simple as cranking up your indoor humidifier to maximum.
How Much Indoor Air Humidity Is Too Much Or Too Little?
Achieving the right balance of indoor air humidity isn't difficult. But maintaining it sure can be!
A whole host of factors can come into play into influencing whether your indoor air is more humid or more dry.
Each of the factors below may cause indoor humidity levels to fluctuate:
- Local climate and weather.
- Indoor heating and air conditioning preferences.
- Age and reliability of your HVAC equipment and ductwork.
- Erratic or inaccurate thermostat readings.
- How weathertight (or not) your home construction may be.
- Use of individual portable humidifiers or dehumidifiers.
Recommended Indoor Air Humidity Levels for COVID-19
Prior to the worldwide pandemic and findings linking humidity to resilience from COVID-19, indoor air humidity recommendations were 30 to 50 percent year-round.
Here, the general guidance was to aim for 30 percent or higher during winter and 50 percent or lower during summer.
In the wake of the pandemic, these recommendations have changed.
Today, home humidity is recommended to be between 40 to 60 percent - year-round!
To be more precise: winter indoor humidity should maintain levels of 40 percent or higher. In summer, the goal is to maintain 60 percent indoor air humidity or lower.
Why More Indoor Humidity Is Not Necessarily Better or Safer
As we mentioned briefly here earlier, if higher humidity is known to be protective against COVID-19 droplets, you might be tempted to just crank your home humidity to the max.
This is not the solution.
Actually, this is where balancing and maintaining indoor air humidity gets legitimately tricky.
You see, at sustained levels of greater than 60 percent, indoor humidity brings its own share of unwelcome problems.
From mildew and mold proliferation to window condensation and interior water damage, too much humidity inside the home is potentially damaging as well.
For some people, excessive ongoing indoor humidity can also create noticeable discomfort with symptoms such as clammy skin, sweating and even breathing difficulties.
So what can you do to keep your home humidity balanced all year long?
How to Maintain Optimal Indoor Humidity Control All Year Long
Increasing and maintaining home humidity used to take some serious work.
From opening windows on rainy days, to using portable room humidifiers, to showering with open doors to placing bowls of water on radiators, we are happy to say indoor humidity control has come a long way.
Today, the hands-down best "set it and forget it" strategy for maintaining healthy indoor air humidity levels is to install a central whole house humidifier.
A whole house humidifier works to control the humidity of the entire home, as opposed to individual room humidifiers.
There are two main types of central humidifier systems: a steam humidifier and a flow-through humidifier.
A Steam humidifier can work with both ducted (forced air) and non-ducted HVAC systems to distribute steam-based humidity control throughout your home.
These cutting-edge systems offer both manual and automatic (hands-off) modes to truly automate your indoor air humidity levels all year long.
Flow Through Humidifiers
A Flow through humidifier connects to your HVAC furnace - known as a furnace humidifier connection. These systems use your furnace blower motor to propel the humidity into the air ducts and out into each room in your home.
Not surprisingly, a flow through humidifier is designed to work with traditional ducted (forced air) HVAC systems.
Not sure which type of central home humidifier system is right for your space?
Just as with HVAC systems, you don't want to purchase more humidifier than what your home can readily use. Our Shipton's home humidity and air quality experts can help you select the perfect humidifier for your home’s unique needs.
Contact Shipton’s For Expert Humidity Control in Hamilton, Ontario
Shipton's Heating and Cooling is a top-rated HVAC and indoor air quality service provider for Hamilton, Ontario, and surrounding areas. You can trust us to provide you with all of the knowledge you need to make the right decision on your winter indoor humidity needs.
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