The discomforts that accompany winter heating can be irritating. However, it’s easy to dismiss these as normal conditions during the harsh weather of the season. Although your home’s heater affects the indoor humidity levels, you can take steps to address the related air quality issues that arise as you keep your residence warm.
Factors Affecting Your Indoor Humidity
Cold weather is the biggest issue that leads to low humidity levels in your home. It may be surprising that just a few months ago, too much humidity was the concern. The decline is due to temperature as cold air holds approximately 50 percent of the moisture that warm air can hold. Your heating equipment will lead to an even more pronounced change in the home, sucking much of the remaining moisture from the air.
The Impact of Low Humidity in the Home
The most common discomforts associated with low relative humidity inside the home are dry skin and hair. Cracked or chapped skin and lips are frequent problems. Static electricity can be another annoying factor. Indoor decor can also be affected by severe changes in moisture levels. One of the more serious concerns, especially for those who struggle with respiratory conditions, can be the drying of mucous membranes that takes place when moisture levels are too low.
Dry mucous membranes can lead to greater susceptibility to illnesses. The mucous membranes provide a natural defense against bacteria and viruses, and the impact of dry indoor air can be serious for those with compromised immune systems or respiratory difficulties. Indoor moisture levels below 15 percent can also trigger coughing, a serious issue for asthmatic individuals.
What Is the Ideal Indoor RH?
Relative humidity in the home should be between 30 and 50 percent. Indoor winter humidity levels in harsh climates should be at least 20 percent. You can use a hygrometer to measure the moisture in your home. You can also look for an HVAC control that will monitor humidity.
Improving Winter Humidification in Your Residence
If you find that your home’s RH is too low on a regular basis, you can install a humidifier to infuse moisture into your air supply. There are three main types of humidification units:
- Bypass – evaporative pads provide a supply of water, diffusing moisture as the airstream moves through the unit
- Fan-powered – evaporative pads are used in connection with a fan that blows air through the unit and into the airstream
- Steam – electrodes are used to create steam, dispersing the vapor into the airstream
Your HVAC contractor can help you evaluate the types of humidifiers and your home’s unique characteristics to find the best solution for your dry winter conditions. Additionally, you may want to consider the installation of a germicidal air cleaner if you have family members who are extremely susceptible to winter illnesses.
The professionals at Air Conditioning by Luquire are ready to assist with any of your indoor air quality needs. Our Millbrook, AL team can schedule an appointment at your convenience.