Just like creating a comfortable temperature, having the right humidity level inside your home matters. Understanding the link between humidity and air conditioning will put you one step ahead in creating an optimal living environment all summer long. Read on to find out what humidity is and how to measure it. Understand what the ideal humidity level is for your home, and how you can influence it to keep your living space cool and comfortable.
What is Humidity?
Essentially, humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air. Warmer air has the capacity to hold more water vapor and has a higher potential for humidity. There are two different ways humidity can be measured:
Absolute Humidity – measures the amount of water vapor in the air, regardless of the temperature.
Relative Humidity – relative humidity changes with the temperature of the air. This measurement clarifies the actual amount of water vapor in the air in relation to the capacity the air has to hold moisture at any given temperature and is expressed as a percentage.
What is your Home’s Humidity Level and Why Does it Matter?
When the relative humidity of your home is too high, you’ll feel it right away. When there’s a lot of moisture in the surrounding air, your body’s natural cooling system (sweat) doesn’t work as efficiently. As moisture evaporates from your skin, it has nowhere to go, and your body must work harder to regulate its temperature. High humidity levels will leave you feeling hot and sticky, sometimes even in moderate temperatures.
Humid environments allow mold and dust mites to thrive and can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Anyone with asthma or allergies may suffer more with high humidity. Needless to say, for the sake of your home and your health, finding the ideal humidity level is essential.
How to Measure the Humidity in Your Home
Most experts suggest an ideal indoor humidity level between 30% and 50%, with the highest humidity occurring in the summer when the temperatures are high. Some suggest an even more specific range of between 45-55%.
Several devices are available to stay on top of your home’s humidity levels. You may have a humidistat directly attached to your furnace or HVAC system, or you can purchase a hygrometer to measure the amount of moisture in the air. These can be digital or look similar to a scale, and easily found at most home improvement stores. If you’d like a professional assessment or expert advice on how to monitor and maintain healthy humidity levels in your home, give us a call at Ashton for a professional assessment.
Humidity and Air Conditioning
Does air conditioning affect humidity? As air becomes warmer, it can hold a greater mass of moisture. So, naturally, as your air conditioning system cools the temperature of your home, it can also reduce relative humidity, but this isn’t always the case.
Some HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems can reduce humidity levels by condensing water vapor into liquid and draining the excess. With proper sizing and installation, these systems provide effective dehumidification in most conditions; however, air conditioners are not specifically designed to control humidity, and they can’t always respond to the amount of water vapor in the air.
Turning the thermostat to a lower temperature won’t necessarily reduce the amount of humidity in the air. In fact, it can sometimes create a cool environment with relatively high humidity that leaves you feeling cool and clammy. If your home is too humid, your air conditioning system may have to work overtime to keep you cool, causing it to become overworked and inefficient, increasing your energy and maintenance costs.
The best way to create an ideal living environment in the heat of summer is to have a system for monitoring both temperature and humidity levels and set them up to work in harmony.
How to Reduce the Humidity in your Home
There are a few important steps you can take to reduce the amount of moisture in your home and maintain a healthy humidity level when temperatures are high.
- Stop Excess Moisture from Entering the Building
Seal any cracks or fix leaks where excess moisture from outside could be coming in.
- Monitor Daily Activities and Sources of Moisture
Daily activities such as doing laundry, taking a hot shower, and cooking a meal can all create excess moisture in your home. Be mindful of how often you’re doing these activities on the hottest days of the year, and when you can, open windows to ensure proper ventilation and let moisture out.
- Schedule Regular Maintenance Checks
Have your air conditioning system checked regularly to monitor the health of its components, keep it clean, and ensure its functioning at maximum capacity.
- Use a Dehumidifier
A dehumidifier is built to maintain ideal relative humidity and improve the air quality of your entire home. There are stand-alone options as well as whole home dehumidifiers that can be installed into your existing HVAC system.
If you’re not sure what’s best for you, give us a call at Ashton Plumbing, Heating, and Air – we’re here to help!