When we think of humidity we often think of the summer and hot, sticky days. Humid summer weather can wreak havoc on your home, especially in the basement, with mold and fungus growth increased by the wet conditions which can cause breathing issues. But did you know you should also be paying attention to humidity levels in the winter? Too little humidity and your home can become too dry, with cracking in wood furniture and floors, dry itchy skin and increased susceptibility to colds and other viruses. So what’s the ideal humidity level for your house each season?
In the summer we want to try to keep humidity levels down as the hot weather is more likely to increase humidity as warm air can hold more moisture. High humidity in your house can increase levels of mold, fungi, bacteria, and mites which can aggravate allergies and asthma.
According to experts, you should keep humidity levels at 45% to 55% to help manage any health effects, though it can depend on your activity level and personal preferences. You can keep humidity levels as low as 30% or as high as 60%, above that and you’ll be running into too high humidity levels.
There are a few ways to help lower the humidity in your home. The first is to get a dehumidifier which pulls the moisture out of the air. There are standalone portable options which you can turn on and off as you need them and can be moved around the house to the areas most in need. You can also have one installed alongside your air conditioning system which will pull the moisture out of the air before it runs through the ducts and dehumidify your entire house.
If you don’t already have one, an air conditioner itself can help lower humidity, as cooler air holds less moisture.
Exhaust fans are another option, particularly for areas like the bathroom. They very quickly pull hot air out of a room, though they’re best for bathrooms that only get humid for short periods of time, such as after a shower.
Although Nova Scotia can be a little wet in the winter we still have to worry about humidity levels being too low. Cold air carries less moisture. Lowering the humidity may cause skin and airways to dry out, which can make asthma and allergies worse and make you more susceptible to getting a cold. Low humidity is also hard on wood furniture and floors, causing cracks that would potentially need to be repaired. As mentioned above the ideal humidity level is between 45% and 55%, and you’ll likely want it on the higher end during the winter months and on the lower end during the summer months for optimal comfort.
To increase humidity in your home you can consider getting a humidifier. Just like the dehumidifier, you can find portable options to move around your house where you need it most. This will add moisture to the air by releasing a fine mist. You may want to set it on top of a towel and away from furniture to avoid getting things damp. Many people find sleeping with a humidifier running in their bedroom can increase sleep quality through the winter. You can also add a humidifier to your HVAC system to add moisture to the air before it goes through the ducts if you want to raise humidity levels in the whole house.
House plants are great natural humidifiers and also have the added benefit of purifying the air as well.
Regardless of the season, paying attention to how humid your home is can help prevent damage to your home and keep you and your family healthy!