Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Like all other environmental factors, humidity too is variable depending on the geographic location, climatic conditions, proximity to the sea, and temperature.
What is considered high humidity? While too low humidity can cause discomfort and itching, high humidity can magnify certain health issues and cause you to develop molds and allergies. Also, humidity in the extreme affects the structural integrity of your home.
So it is important to find a happy medium and adjust your home’s humidity for comfortable and healthy living.
What Is Considered High Humidity?
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To understand what is considered as high or low humidity, we need to get to defining moisture thresholds and understand how to measure humidity.
Humidity is often measured in terms of relative humidity. Relative humidity is how much moisture is present in the air compared to how much moisture the air can hold at a given temperature. Beyond a certain threshold point, that is, its holding capacity, the air will not be able to hold the water, and it will condense into moisture, making the air feel damp.
The humidity levels are directly proportional to temperature. With an increase in temperature, the air is able to hold more moisture.
Relative humidity is expressed in percentage. So, air with 50% relative humidity is saturated with 50% water vapor and can absorb 50% more. Similarly, air with an RH of 100% is completely saturated, and it cannot absorb any more moisture.
At 100% humidity, the water particles have condensed into little cloud droplets, which can collide (not compulsorily) to rain or snow.
High Humidity And Human Health
When the body heats up, it sweats to regulate the temperature. The air then picks up the moisture present on the skin, helping us cool off. Humans are very sensitive to humidity.
When the air is at 100% RH, it is at its maximum water-holding capacity and can take no more, so the sweat on your skin will not evaporate. Now, the body will become hot and sticky, and to combat the heat, the body will produce more sweat. This results in excessive sweating.
Excessive sweating causes hyperthermia or overheating of the body.
Some related health issues are:
- Muscle cramps
- Heat stroke
- Heat exhaustion
Humidity In Winter
In winter, a furnace or other heating equipment used to combat freezing temperatures reduces the humidity indoors. When the air is drier, you will experience dry skin and static electricity. It can also aggravate your allergies and asthma and lead to other health issues related to low moisture.
Lack of moisture also makes one feel colder as the dry air absorbs moisture from the skin. This prompts us to switch the heating up further, which further decreases the humidity. Lack of moisture also leads to cracks and splinters in wooden furniture.
Homeowners use humidifiers to keep indoor moisture levels at an optimum level. A humidifier will distribute moisture in the room. The air absorbs this moisture, making the indoor air more comfortable. So you won’t have to turn up the heat to feel warm.
Here are some tips that you can employ to increase the humidity in winter:
- Add indoor plants to increase your home’s humidity and improve the aesthetics of your space.
- Use a stovetop for cooking and boiling water. The steam will dissipate in the air and make it more comfortable.
- Leave an open vase or pan filled with water on your radiators. The heat from the radiators will speed up the evaporation process.
- Hang dry your clothes inside.
- If possible, open your bathroom door while showering so that the extra steam is released into the air.
- If your bath water is warm, let it sit until it cools off.
Humidity In Summer
In summer, when the indoor humidity rises above 60%, it is termed “high humidity”. The high temperature increases the water-holding capacity of the air. When the outdoor humidity increases, the indoor humidity follows suit.
Also, the air conditioning used to combat heat indoors leads to a striking contrast between indoor and outdoor temperatures, leading to condensation on the windows.
High humidity leads to many health and infrastructure issues. They are:
- Irritation of eyes, nose, and throat
- Blocked pores and skin rashes
- Alleviation in respiratory issues like asthma and allergies
- Shrunken door and window frames
- Water stains
- Malfunctioning electronic equipment
- Bubbling paint and peeling wallpaper
- Growth of mildew, mold, viruses, fungi, and bacteria.
- Muggy or foul odor
- Attracts insects
Thus, it is important to maintain indoor humidity in the summer. To do so, many homeowners use dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture from the air. It improves the home’s air quality and discourages the growth of microorganisms.
Dehumidifiers are available in portable forms, and you can integrate them into the home’s HVAC system. While portable dehumidifiers are easy to use and affordable, humidifiers integrated into the HVAC system maintain the humidity of the whole house. They are automatic and adjust the room’s humidity without your intervention. However, they are costly, and only professional installers can handle them.
Here are some tips you can employ to decrease the humidity in summer:
- Use a ventilation fan or open a window to prevent moisture after baths and showers from entering your home.
- Use your washer less often and dry your laundry outdoors.
- Move houseplants outside and avoid over-watering them.
- Redirect downspouts away from your home’s foundation.
- Use your air conditioner at a slightly higher temperature and switch on the fan if necessary.
- Insulate areas like windows, the attic, and pipes that act as entryways for moisture.
Best Humidity Level For Home And How To Achieve It
Maintaining the humidity of your home at 40-60% is ideal for your health, home, and air quality.
Unregulated air can become an ideal ground for the growth of unwanted visitors. Controlling the air quality in the home is especially important for people with respiratory issues and allergies.
Depending on where you live, you may have to get a humidifier, a dehumidifier, or both to set your home’s humidity within the perfect range.