People in our region aren't used to particularly high humidity in the warm months, but humid summers are not unknown. When it happens, it's good to know something about managing humidity levels.
Your Home's Relative Humidity
Some houses seem to hold in dampness more than others. If yours is like that, or if it seems your air conditioner has difficulty removing sufficient humidity from your home's air for your household to be comfortable, you can take remedial measures. Start by purchasing a hygrometer - an inexpensive device available at home stores.
Monitor your home's humidity. It should fall between 40 and 50 percent. It's best if it's in the lower end of the range in summer and the higher end in the winter. Warm air holds more moisture so in the summer, perspiration does not evaporate on the skin to cool us off as easily. Often, we must resort to turning down the thermostat so the air conditioning comes on more often to cool off. Thus, an excessively humid home in summer can actually account for higher utility bills.
In the winter, when it's cooler and the air is somewhat drier, we may need to add moisture to the home's air to prevent dry skin and the afflictions that come with a dry respiratory tract, such as more colds and flu, allergies and even asthma attacks. Dry air may also promote static electricity, which can harm electronics.
Changing the Humidity in Your Home
The best way to add humidity to your home is with a whole-house humidifier, plumbed through your HVAC system. However, if that seems like more technology than you need to mitigate occasional dry conditions, you can try a portable model, which will have to be moved from room to room, and requires refilling.
If your home is too damp in summer, you might try installing a whole-house dehumidifier, which can precisely regulate the relative humidity in your home. Portables are also available but don't do as good a job, and again, must be moved from room to room.
For more on managing humidity levels, contact Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar of Silicon Valley.
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).