The average annual relative humidity level in the Mid-Atlantic region is 60 to 75 percent, depending on your location. The humidity level inside your home can be higher due to activities and water sources that add moisture to the air. You’re aware that high humidity is sticky and uncomfortable, but it also generates higher cooling bills and contributes to poor indoor air quality (IAQ). Keep reading to learn practical methods for lowering humidity, and you’ll enjoy enhanced home comfort and take the sweat off your pocketbook.
Humidity, IAQ and Cooling Efficiency
In Addition to actual temperature, home comfort has a lot to do with the level of indoor humidity. Humidity is an element of indoor air quality that must be addressed if you’re to achieve efficient cooling and be able to relax comfortably.
Humidity levels above the ideal range of 30 to 50 percent hinder your body’s natural cooling function, making indoor air feel warmer. You may adjust the thermostat repeatedly in the hopes you’ll finally find a comfortable setting. This only leads to higher cooling bills, frustration and fatigue.
In addition to comfort and efficiency, high humidity provides moisture for mold growth and an environment conducive to dust mite proliferation — two microorganisms that trigger allergy and asthma symptoms.
Indoor Humidity Sources
There are many possible indoor sources that contribute to high humidity in your home, including activities such as bathing, cleaning and cooking. Additionally, damp basements and crawl spaces, air infiltration from a hot and humid attic, a leaky roof and even too many house plants all increase indoor humidity.
Home appliances, such as the clothes washer and dryer, oversized HVAC equipment and poor ventilation all contribute to increased indoor humidity, as well. Use the following tips for lowering humidity levels and your cooling bills:
- Reduce showering time and water temperature.
- Install plastic sheeting on dirt floors inside crawl spaces.
- Beautify your home with house plants that naturally dehumidify the air.
- Check the roofing and gutter systems. Leaky roofs obviously need attention. Leaky gutters should be repaired to prevent standing water.
- Make sure insulation is mold-free and up to Energy Star R-value recommendations.
- Add caulk and weatherstripping to leaks around windows, exterior doors (including the door to an attached garage), the attic hatch and wall penetrations.
- Use ceiling fans in occupied rooms to promote air movement, feel cooler and lower cooling bills.
- Invest in a hygrometer to spot-check humidity levels room by room.
Lowering Humidity With Ventilation
Ample ventilation is one of the most important factors for mitigating high indoor humidity. Natural ventilation is pleasant when the weather outside is nice; just open the windows and enjoy fresh air streaming through your home. For much of the year in the Mid-Atlantic region, natural ventilation isn’t practical.
For effective year-round ventilation, a mechanical whole-house heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) may be necessary, depending on the humidity level in your home. An HRV reduces the burden on your cooling system by more efficiently pre-cooling fresh-air intake.
Ventilation is also important when cooking, bathing and cleaning. Use kitchen exhaust fans to whisk away moisture. Continue to run bathroom fans after showering until the fog clears from the mirror. Check to make sure the clothes dryer vents outside the home.
Dehumidifiers are available in different sizes according to the square footage of the area to be dehumidified. Portable models work well for single bedrooms and a damp basement, but spot dehumidification has no substantial effect of humidity levels through the home.
A whole-home dehumidifier is an HVAC add-on system that removes moisture from airflow inside the air ducts. Your HVAC technician just needs a few hours to install the system, and then you can enjoy a comfortable home at optimal humidity levels. Moreover, you’ll save energy and reduce the A/C’s load.
To learn more about lowering humidity levels and cooling bills in your Baltimore area home, check out Griffith Energy Services, Inc’s indoor air quality and air conditioning services, or call 888-474-3391 to speak with an expert!