How You’re Affected by Indoor Humidity

How You're Affected by Indoor HumidityHow clear is the link between indoor humidity and comfort and health? The first air conditioner patented in 1902 was actually designed primarily as a dehumidifier to reduce humidity. Cool comfort was just a secondary effect of lowering the amount of water vapor in the air.

The relationship between humidity and perceived comfort is well known to anyone who lives in a humid climate. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency deems 55 percent the maximum indoor relative humidity for a residence. For most people, however, around 45 to 50 percent is the actual upper tipping point for both optimum comfort and a healthy indoor environment.

What happens when indoor humidity creeps above 50 percent? Here are some ways your home is affected:

  • It feels warmer than it actually is. Because moist air holds on to heat energy more efficiently, a humid indoor environment feels hotter and less comfortable than the reading on the thermometer might suggest. Also, body heat doesn’t disperse into moist air as effectively as does into drier air. That physiological fact contributes to the ongoing sensation of being too hot.
  • Living micro-allergens thrive. Dust mites begin reproducing and dormant mold spores shift into active mode when the indoor humidity level gets up above 50 percent. Dust mites are considered the major cause of indoor allergic symptoms in susceptible individuals; active airborne mold spores are toxic to many people and may cause a wide variety of symptoms.
  • You spend more on cooling but get less. Though the feeling of being chronically warm in high humidity is caused by the water vapor content in the air — not the air temperature alone — most people instinctively bump the A/C thermostat setting down repeatedly in search of cooler comfort. This makes the air conditioner run ever-longer cycles and increases cooling costs. Also, the physical sensation that results from over-cooling a humid house is more of a clammy feeling, which is still not as comfortable as a drier, less-humid environment.

For techniques and technology to manage indoor humidity, contact Paitson Bros. We’ve helped make Terre Haute homes more livable since 1922.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about indoor humidity and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “422737/Pixabay”

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