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Balanced Humidity in Your Home: Neither Too Moist Nor Too Dry

Humidity – the amount of water vapor in the air – has a major effect on indoor air quality, home comfort and personal health. Too high, and your home will encourage the growth of mold, bacteria and dust mites, which thrive in warm, moist environments. High humidity can also contribute to warming in wooden fixtures. And of course, a muggy environment can be clammy and uncomfortable. But if the humidity is too low, you might be looking at skin irritation, increases in static electricity and the associated shocks, and even difficulty breathing. It's also more difficult to keep dry air heated. This is why aiming for balanced humidity is so important; you avoid the pitfalls at either end of the range. Many experts find a a range of 40-60 percent relative humidity to be ideal for indoor environments, with the best indoor humidity changing with the outside temperatures. There's no single appliance that will perfectly control humidity in your home. Instead, you should look to the interactions of several systems, and tailor those to your specific living situations. Here are some things to consider:
  • Keep excess humidity from entering your home. Especially in the rainy South Bay winters, you should keep an eye on the air coming into your home. Seal your house against air leaks – humid air may bring moisture into small cracks and crevices, where mold can thrive.
  • Consider whole-house humidifiers and dehumidifiers. These appliances usually tie into your existing HVAC system (though some are stand-alone), taking advantage of air circulation to provide balanced humidity.
  • Use portable systems as needed. A portable or room dehumidifier won't have the power to take care of your entire house, and you'll have to monitor its tank and empty it manually. However, if you have problem spots that are more prone to moisture buildup than the rest of your house – a utility room with a washer and dryer, for example – they can handle that problem area for you.
  • Keep in mind that warm air holds more humidity than cold air. This is why air conditioners work to lower your indoor humidity, and why hot, muggy days can be so oppressive.

Visit our website at Valley Heating, Cooling & Electrical for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call at (408) 868-5500. We provide quality services to the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about balanced humidity and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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