How Your Home’s Humidity Affects Your Comfort and What You Can Do About It
Regardless of where you live, humidness affects your comfort. In Plantation, Pembroke Pines, and the surrounding ares in South Florida, residents can expect an average daily humidity level of 76 percent in June. On these steamy days, it’s natural to seek relief inside your home, but when this outdoor dampness combines with the moisture you create inside your home, your home can become a clammy, uncomfortable environment. Although you can’t do anything about the muggy conditions outside, by managing your indoor humidity levels, you’ll make the time you spend indoors more enjoyable.
What is Relative Humidity (RH)?
RH refers to the amount of moisture in the air; it’s expressed as a percentage compared to the amount of moisture the air can hold when it’s totally saturated. The amount of moisture the air can hold depends on the temperature; the warmer the air is, the more moisture it can hold. When the air is 100 percent saturated, it’s said to have reached its dew point. Once the air reaches its dew point, the moisture begins to condense on windows, refrigerators and other objects in your home.
When heat combines with high moisture levels, it feels hotter than the temperature alone indicates. The heat index, also called the apparent temperature, measures how hot it feels taking into account temperature and moisture. This is the opposite of the wind chill effect in winter, which calculates the “real feel” based on the actual temperature and wind strength.
How Do High Moisture Levels Affect Your Comfort?
High moisture levels in your home produce muggy conditions and disrupt sleeping patterns, but this may be the least of your comfort problems. Excessive moisture creates an ideal environment for mold to grow. Mold can trigger asthma attacks and cause eye, nose and throat irritations. Excessive indoor moisture also triggers and aggravates symptoms for those suffering from other respiratory disorders or allergies.
Humid conditions inhibit your body’s ability to cool itself through sweating. When you sweat, the moisture evaporates from your skin into the air; if the air is already thick with moisture, this evaporation process is interrupted, and you’re left feeling soggy and wet.
Ideal indoor moisture levels are between 45 percent and 55 percent; they shouldn’t exceed 60 percent. On average, we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, and we spend 60 percent of that time at home. Keeping that in mind, it’s easy to see why maintaining the right moisture level in your home is essential not only to your comfort but your health and well-being.
What Can You Do About Excess Moisture?
Removing excess moisture is a side effect of your air conditioning system cooling your home, so the first thing you can do to combat indoor dampness is to make sure your air conditioner is tuned up and working properly. However, the primary function of an AC unit is to cool your home, not remove moisture. In South Florida’s sticky conditions, most households will benefit from adding a whole-house or individual room dehumidifier to remove excess moisture.
Ceiling and exhaust fans also help control indoor moisture and increase your comfort. Ceiling fans create a breeze which increases the cooling effect on your skin; using a ceiling fan lowers the apparent temperature by up to 10 degrees. Exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom remove moisture generated by long, hot showers and cooking.
Because moist air holds more heat, taking steps to dehumidify your home in the summer will save you money in addition to making you more comfortable. Dry air feels cooler because of the evaporation effect on your skin. By removing moisture from your indoor air, you can set your thermostat at a higher temperature. For each degree you raise your thermostat, you’ll use up to 3 percent less energy, yet you’ll be just as comfortable.
Managing indoor moisture levels should be a priority for every home and business owner in South Florida. To learn more about how your home’s humidity affects your comfort and what you can do about it, check out the whole-home dehumidifier we offer at Hi-Vac or call 954-246-4141.
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