For both comfort and health, most indoor environmental experts recommend you reduce humidity inside your home to the range of 30-50 percent. Here in Sarasota, however, the climate isn’t on your side. Throughout the entire year, average daily high and low outdoor humidity readings exceed that 50 percent upper limit. What’s worse, natural physics dictate that water vapor tends to migrate from a moist zone into a drier zone. That means your controlled indoor environment acts as a sponge to absorb outdoor humidity every time a door is opened and via myriad small air leaks in the structure. Despite these obstacles, however, the good reasons to reduce humidity in your home are still compelling.
Why Reduce Humidity Indoors?
Dry air is more easily cooled and heated and feels more comfortable. During summer, humid indoor air holds more heat energy and works against the cooling function of your air conditioner. It’s also more difficult for your body to naturally disperse heat in humid surroundings. You’ll find yourself turning down the thermostat for more cooling—even though temperature readings are already in the comfort zone. This extends the “On” cycles of your air conditioner and increases energy consumption and cooling costs. In winter, high indoor humidity means a cool, clammy environment that always feels chilly, even when you bump up the thermostat.
High humidity takes a toll on your home. Structural components warp and are more susceptible to rotting. Wooden flooring may swell, and cabinetry and drawers stick or refuse to shut. Cool window glass becomes a magnet for condensation that drips down and causes mildew or rots wooden window components.
A humid environment also promotes the growth of toxic mold activated by exposure to moisture. A variety of insect pests prefer humidity above 50 percent, as well. Bacteria growth is activated inside hidden areas like ductwork and the interior of wall voids where high humidity infiltrates.
How to Reduce Humidity Indoors
You can’t do much about the climate outdoors, but you can take steps to fight back against an overly humid indoor environment. From simple DIY strategies to investing in hardware designed to reduce humidity, the cumulative effect of these steps can help keep your home more comfortable and healthy.
- Make sure the house is as air-tight as possible to resist infiltration of humid outdoor air. Seal structural cracks and gaps with caulking and renew worn weatherstripping around doors and windows.
- During the afternoon hours, reduce humidity by limiting household activities that produce water vapor. Take shorter, cooler showers. When cooking, keep lids on pots of boiling water and use the microwave as much as possible to heat food.
- Moving air is drier. Keep indoor air in motion by the use of energy-efficient ceiling fans that sustain continuous air circulation and also enhance the perception of coolness inside the home.
- Humidity extraction is an important function of the air conditioning process. Schedule an annual air conditioner tune-up with your HVAC contractor. Routine services like coil cleaning and refrigerant measurement are vital to the dehumidifying function of your air conditioner.
- In zones where high humidity is unavoidable like the kitchen and bathrooms, install spot exhaust fans in the ceiling and make sure the vent ducts extend all the way to the exterior of the house. Venting water vapor into the attic is insufficient and simply allows humidity to re-infiltrate the home.
- Dehumidifiers range from portable models to whole-house units. Portable dehumidifiers are useful to condition air in limited spaces like a single enclosed room. They require daily maintenance and frequent cleaning. A whole-house dehumidifier permanently connects to your HVAC ductwork and removes humidity from the entire household air volume as it circulates through the ducts. These units are plumbed into your household drain system and maintenance requirements are generally limited to annual air filter changes.
For more information on strategies to reduce humidity in your home, check out Aqua Plumbing & Air’s indoor air quality solutions or call (941) 306-3715.
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