Why Balanced Home Humidity is Important in the Cooler Seasons
Balanced home humidity matters any time of year. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends keeping indoor humidity levels in the range of 30 percent and 60 percent. That can be a challenge in all seasons as outdoor climate, as well as indoor factors such as human activity and HVAC equipment, influence humidity inside the house. Here are some reasons why maintaining balanced home humidity is important during cooler seasons. Low Humidity
- Cold air doesn’t hold water vapor efficiently so low humidity conditions are more common with cooler temperatures. Low humidity levels indoors cause a variety of physical symptoms such as dry, scratchy throat, coughs and eye irritation. In addition, recent medical research has proven that cold and flu viruses thrive in conditions of low humidity and are more easily transmitted in that environment.
- Low indoor humidity is often exacerbated by the use of central heating systems installed in most residences. Gas burners and forced-air circulation in these systems remove water vapor from the air and make indoor conditions drier than outdoors.
- The effects of low humidity in winter also extend to building materials. Wood flooring may shrink and splinter; deterioration such as dry rot in wooden structural components may be accelerated when humidity is low.
- Lack of humidity is why annoying static shocks are more frequent in winter than summer. Dry air acts as an insulator that allows electrostatic charge to build up in people and objects, causing a shock when they touch and the static electricity is suddenly discharged.
- High humidity may also occur because the house is closed up when weather is cold. Tightly sealed, energy-efficient homes are often under-ventilated. Household activities in these confined spaces such as cooking, bathing and simply breathing add water vapor to the air and may elevate indoor humidity above the recommended range. Condensation that forms on windows, as well as in kitchens or bathrooms, can trigger the growth of mildew or toxic mold.