The amount of water vapor, the invisible gaseous state of water, in the air is better known as humidity. The amount of moisture in your home is determined by air temperature and air pressure. Depending on the season and personal preference, the ideal indoor humidity levels in your home should range from between 30 percent to 50 percent (relative humidity). The goal is to be between 35 percent and 40 percent. Health experts agree that this is a comfortable humidity level for pets as well.

Indoor Humidity in Winter vs Summer

Indoor Humidity

Outdoor temperatures play a major role in indoor humidity levels. Indoor air quality and the health of occupants are affected by the moisture in a home’s foundations, walls, and roof. The lower the outside temperature, the more excess moisture there is likely to be inside. This is a result of the cold, moisture-laden air finding its way indoors through cracks and drafty doors and windows, and condensing on the surfaces, as it clashes with the warmer air indoors. For example, if the outdoor temperature is between 25 degrees Fahrenheit to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the humidity levels of the indoor air will be around 40 percent.

Winter Humidity

In the winter, indoor humidity drops to be between 25 percent and 35 percent. Keeping humidity levels higher than that will be difficult due to the cold climate. Contrary to popular belief the furnace does not dry out humidity. Cold air is dry, therefore, the air becomes drier as it finds its way into the house. Cold air can enter through drafty doors, older windows with broken seals, as well as through the roof.

The challenge in the winter is to keep the humidity levels low enough so that condensation doesn’t form inside. Try to do so while keeping humidity high enough to ward off static electricity and dry skin. Furthermore, dry air can cause discomfort and illness such as sore throats, sore noses, sore eyes, the flu, and even allergies. Dry air can also support the spread of viruses. Do your best to keep the cold dry air out to prevent sickness and higher heating bills. If the indoor air remains very dry, use a home humidifier for better humidity control.

Summer Humidity

High humidity, over 45 percent, can leave rooms feeling clammy and sticky which can be unbearable. A humidity level of over 50 percent isn’t just uncomfortable, it can also cause health issues and higher HVAC system bills.

While heat is good for preventing the spread of viruses, excessive humidity can lead to bacteria, mold growth, and mildew which can spread easily. This happens when cold air blows against warm, moist interior walls, causing condensation to mix moisture and mold spores. Mold spores can then become airborne and be inhaled into the lungs. This can provoke allergies and result in respiratory conditions such as asthma. In addition to causing discomfort and health issues, high humidity levels can be problematic for your house. Moisture in the air can rot framing, roofing, and flooring when excess humidity is present.

Winter and Summer Solutions

The best solution to controlling humidity levels in your home is to install an air-conditioning unit that can dehumidify in summer and add moisture in the winter. This popular HVAC upgrade will not only help to regulate humidity but will also help to lower heating and cooling bills.

Start by repairing or replacing the seals around old windows frames and doors. You might also consider installing new modern windows. Be proactive and measure the indoor humidity levels to pre-empt skin dryness or asthma. Invest in a digital Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer to obtain accurate readings of humidity levels in your home. A hygrometer will allow you to manage the air-conditioning and or humidifier, to help keep heating and cooling bills under control while keeping the family healthy and comfortable all year round.

Additional Reading: Moisture Control via Energy.gov

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