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What Is the Ideal Humidity for a Home?

woman-and-fanOne of the important services we offer at Red Rock Mechanical is installing humidifiers and dehumidifiers in Plattsburgh, NY and elsewhere in Northwest Vermont and Northeast New York. Finding the right balance of relative humidity helps a home in a number of ways:

  • Better comfort in both hot and cold weather
  • A reduction in costs to run the HVAC system
  • Improved health conditions, especially for allergy and asthma-sufferers
  • Fewer troubles with damage to building material

The current technology for whole-house humidifiers and dehumidifiers makes them energy efficient and quiet, and you can control them easily through a humidistat, which can be integrated into a smart thermostat for the house. You won’t have to worry about balancing humidity levels: your home will take care of it for you!

But What Is Balanced Humidity?

This is a good question. You don’t want your home to be either too hot or too dry during the year. It may sound tempting to drive humidity down during a roasting hot day, since it allows heat to escape even faster from the body. But dry conditions damage skin and can allow for the faster spread of illnesses between people—and they can lead to cracked wooden surfaces and peeling paint. Turning up the humidity during a cold day isn’t much better, leading to damp conditions that encourage mold.

The ideal balance when it comes to comfort varies from person to person, much the same way preference for temperatures varies. If you have humidity controls in your home, we recommend setting them to 45% as a starting point. Most people in your household will find this ideal for comfort, and it won’t lead to the problems associated with either dry or humid air.

If you do want to adjust the humidistat up or down to find a personal “sweet spot,” be aware of where the extremes are. Relative humidity lower than 30% is considered too dry, and relative humidity above 60% is too moist.

What Is Relative Humidity, Anyway?

We suppose people may not know what relative humidity actually means. It’s an effective measure of humidity levels compared to absolute humidity. Absolute humidity is the maximum amount of moisture the air can hold, and this changes based on temperature. The hotter the air, the more humidity the air can contain. Relative humidity is the current amount of moisture in the air as compared to the maximum amount, i.e. to the highest level of absolute humidity. At 100% relative humidity, the air can no longer hold the moisture, which usually (although not always) means rain.

Don’t Rely on Portable Units!

You can purchase small, portable humidifiers and dehumidifiers rather than having professionals put in whole-house solutions. However, we don’t recommend this. Portable humidifiers are useful for a single room, such as an infant’s, but they don’t do much good otherwise and aren’t easy to control when trying to find balanced humidity. A portable dehumidifier can also present fire hazards. If you want to stay safe and enjoy balanced humidity, make sure you work with indoor air quality professionals like ours!

Red Rock Mechanical, LLC serves Northwest Vermont and Northeast New York. Call us for a free estimate!

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