Even when it’s warm and humid outside, it doesn’t have to be terribly sticky and uncomfortable inside your home. By understanding the conditions which relate to and affect humidity levels, you can make your home more comfortable and take a load off the A/C system.
The long cooling season in our region can really tax the energy budget with high cooling bills. The air conditioner can drone on for hours, yet the home may not reach a desirable comfort level. Humidity levels play a large role in the discomfort and stickiness you feel in your home, and the A/C’s inability to keep up.
The relative humidity level is affected by the temperature of the air. Warmer air is less dense than cooler air. Therefore, warmer air can hold more moisture than cooler air. As warmer air from outside the home is cooled by the A/C, the air condenses, which means it can’t hold as much moisture. So, the freshly cooled air in your home is now even more humid.
The comfort paradox that humidity creates works the opposite during the heating months. As cool outside air is warmed inside your home by the heat pump or furnace, the air expands, allowing it to hold more moisture. At the same time, the expanding warmer air feels very dry, which can exacerbate comfort and health issues.
Why Managing Humidity Is Important
Properly managing home humidity is important for comfort, which is obvious, but it's also vital for the health of occupants, keeping energy bills in check and the integrity of home structure, possessions and any porous objects in the home. Here’s why:
- Comfort - Overly humid air causes fatigue, affects comfort and mood, and it can be difficult to get a good night’s rest.
- Health - High indoor humidity is certainly uncomfortable, but it can also be unhealthy. Mold and mildew are always an issue, which affects indoor air quality and exacerbates respiratory ailments. Common allergens, such as dust mites, thrive in humid conditions, and high home humidity creates an atmosphere welcoming to bacteria and germs.
- Home - The porous wood structure and materials of home, furnishings and belongings absorb moisture from the air. You may notice doors are more difficult to close during the cooling months because they've swelled from absorbing moisture. Mold and mildew can form on and inside walls and other areas, which can be expensive to remedy.
- Energy bills - It's difficult to stay comfortable when indoor humidity is high. This may prompt running the A/C more frequently, which contributes to higher energy bills.
Steps to Take
The annual average relative humidity in our region is around 80 percent—about 30 percent above the ideal levels of 35 to 50 percent. Lifestyle modifications, mechanical means and home efficiency upgrades are necessary to effectively manage the high home humidity in our area. Here’s some comforting tips:
- Lifestyle - Household activities, such as cooking, cleaning and bathing, create heat and moisture. Try to do these activities in the late evening or early morning hours when humidity is high. Use ceiling fans daily. A ceiling fan can make a room feel about four degrees cooler with the wind chill effect. During the heating months, reverse the direction of the fan so that air is pulled up toward the ceiling.
- Lighting - Replace incandescent lighting with CFLs and LEDs. Energy-saving bulbs produce substantially less heat, and save 25 to 80 percent lighting costs.
- Air sealing and insulation - Seal air leaks around windows, doors, attic door, attached garages and your home’s exterior. Stopping air leakage is important to stabilizing indoor humidity, temperature and energy bills. When you plug air leaks, you stop air and moisture movement from outside and inside your home, making it easier to manage humidity.Make sure the attic and walls are well insulated. Insulation is more readily identified with colder regions, but ample insulation is important to keep you cool air conditioned air inside your home.
- Whole-house dehumidifier - Batting cleanup is the whole-house dehumidifier, which attaches to the air ducts. It effectively removes moisture from ducted airflow and distributes optimally humidified air throughout the home. Dehumidifiers also ease the burden on the A/C system, which reduces cooling bills. Operation is easy, too. Just set the humidistat to the humidity level you desire, and everything works automatically.
Home humidity is manageable with the right strategy. For more information, please contact Thermacon Service Company. We serve homeowners in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange, Vidor and the surrounding areas.