Winter and humidity in your home
Humidity is defined as the amount of water vapour in the air. Relative humidity, represented as a percent (% RH), indicates the amount of water in the air compared to the amount of water the air can hold at the current temperature. If the air contains half as much moisture as it can possibly hold, it is said to be at 50% RH. Condensation on windows in your home is usually an indication of high relative humidity levels. Warm air holds more humidity than cold air; therefore, humidity levels in your home are typically lower in the winter than in the summer. Relative humidity of about 35 – 40 percent is ideal for indoor living conditions.
During the winter months the dry winter air causes moisture to be drawn from our bodies, making us feel cold. Increasing the thermostat temperature may provide you with some relief but will not achieve an optimum level of comfort. It will however increase your energy bill. A balance of heat and humidity is the requirement for an ideal comfortable environment during the cold winter months. Low humidity levels in the home can result in dry skin, throat irritation, respiratory problems and static shock. Furthermore it can wreak havoc in your home by causing gaps in your hardwood flooring and wood trim.
One of the first steps in managing humidity in your home is to purchase one of the various types of humidifiers on the market. Your options include portable and whole house applications. Although both are effective, portable humidifier models are ideal for smaller isolated areas and are limited to the space they will add humidity to. A whole house application would be more effective to supply your entire home with humidity. The humidifier itself would be installed at your furnace and would have humidity transferred through the duct work to all the rooms in your home. This application also leaves you with choices such as forced air humidifier or steam.
A forced air humidifier application allows air to be blown through a moistened pad. This moisture is then distributed throughout the home through your homes duct work. There are different gallon capacities to choose from which would be best determined based on the square footage of your home.
Steam humidifiers are also installed at the furnace but work on a different principle. These units are self-contained and take tap water to a boil by using electric immersion heaters to create steam. As in the forced air application the steam is distributed through your home via the duct work. Both applications allow you to control the amount of humidity in your home by means of a control panel.
Both steam and forced air humidification methods will not only help you in achieving a comfortable humidity level in your home during those dry winter days but will also help in keeping your energy costs down.