Humidity plays a major role in your body’s comfort. Humidity is moisture; it’s the wetness in the air, and we can feel it on our bodies, too. Often times we think of temperature as being a main factor in comfort, but as anyone in Minnesota will tell you, being cold is not as bad as being cold and wet (or being hot and sticky for that matter). That’s why we want to share with you some simple ways to achieve home comfort by controlling your home humidity levels.
Humidity: Know It, Control It
If you start by understanding where humidity in your home comes from, you’ll have a better understanding of how to control it. Basically, there are two main contributing factors of moisture in your home – humidity caused by outside air coming inside and humidity caused by people.
First, humidity can penetrate your home through cracks, crevices, open windows, doors, and really anywhere there isn’t a solid seal to the outside world. That means close your windows on humid days, to make sure your house is sealed up tight. Keith Hill, technical support manager for Minnesota Air, suggests making sure your home also has a vapor barrier.
“Obviously when it’s hot and humid outside, we would increase our indoor comfort by reducing the amount of air infiltrating our home,” he says. “Older homes may not (have a vapor barrier). There are some options using special paints that have vapor retarding qualities.”
Secondly, people generate a lot of moisture – and not just from sweating on a hot summer day. “It’s more from activities like cleaning, bathing, and cooking,” says Keith. “If you can limit these activities during hot weather your comfort level will increase.”
Think about the moisture put in the air when taking a hot, steamy shower, or even by boiling water to cook tonight’s pasta dinner. These are all factors that add humidity to your house. Keith says that many of these moisture-laden tasks can be remedied by using exhaust devices like a range hood or bathroom fans, but there is always a catch.
“Realize that every cubic foot of air exhausted also has to be replaced with outside air – the other source of humidity,” he says.
Other Humidity Helpers
Besides knowing where the source of your humidity is coming from in order to control it, there are many tools out there to help get moisture out of your home.
The most obvious – and least expensive choice – is a portable dehumidifier. This can be used in all seasons and can move from room to room if you have problem areas that are prone to moisture.
Another option is a whole-house dehumidifier, which will cost you more money to install and will require duct modifications so it can hook up to your HVAC system. The bonus is that they are self-draining, require only basic maintenance, and typically have a much larger capacity to dehumidify than the portable variety.
Finally, Keith says the best dehumidifier is your air conditioner, but also notes that some are better than others.
“Smaller is better when it comes to humidity removal. The air needs to flow over the evaporator coil for the moisture to form and that takes time to ‘rotate’ the air in the home,” says Keith, “but if the AC shuts off quickly because it satisfies the thermostat, then the dehumidification process stops.”
Because of the shutoff process, Keith suggests buying a two-stage or modulating air conditioner if you are in the market to buy new.
“Those are the best for humidity control,” he says. “They are undersized units that run longer when you only want dehumidification and only a little bit of cooling, and then ramps up when you need maximum cooling.”
If you are having humidity issues in your home, it’s time to call a pro – like the experienced technicians at StayComfyMinnesota.com – and get it fixed! Not only will finding the proper home humidity make you feel more comfortable, but it will help keep you healthier by stopping mold from growing, allergens from entering, and even your skin feeling less clammy.