Homes that fight back
As flu season is in full force, it is essential to take steps to minimise the risk of infection. For some of us, this may mean getting the flu jab. For others, it may involve stocking up on vitamins or adjusting diets. There are also important measures we should take in our homes in order to prevent bacteria and viruses.
Sally Fok, co-founder and MD of EcoAir, reveals why it is crucial to check for excess moisture in the home. “Airborne microorganisms thrive in humid conditions. The survival and breed rate of bacteria and viruses will escalate as soon as humidity levels rise above 60% and this level of humidity is not at all uncommon in UK homes during the colder wetter winter months, especially in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, or garages.”
By turning on the heating and closing doors and windows during winter, we significantly reduce air circulation, causing moisture generated inside to become trapped indoors. Moisture from rain and melting snow can also enter our home through windows, floors or walls - particularly in older buildings. In the meantime, condensation is a major cause of trapped excess moisture in all homes throughout the winter.
The most essential measure to reducing humidity in the home, and thus reducing exposure to bugs and germs, is to ventilate. Good ventilation – especially in winter - will allow excess moisture to escape and is key to warding off illness. Open windows and use vent fans every time you are cooking and after taking a shower or bath. Allowing the air to circulate is a quick way to release trapped humidity.
For those looking for a more immediate and controlled solution, a dehumidifier can successfully restore and maintain the correct moisture levels in the home. As well as drying the air and preventing the breeding of bacteria, a dehumidifier will also help to cut energy costs. The higher the humidity, the harder it is to heat a home, which leads to higher energy bills. Once the moisture in the air has been reduced, our home heating systems will work much more efficiently as it takes less energy to heat less humid air.
Dehumidifiers are also widely used to dry laundry quickly indoors – many have dedicated laundry modes - and are far more cost-effective than using tumble driers. Damp laundry in the home will not only add significantly to the home's humidity levels but also provides a moist surface that bugs and germs will be drawn to.
Moisture levels can be measured by using a hygrometer (or humidistat). Any reading above 60% and it'd be strongly advisable to take steps to address the problem. A high reading indicates that not only your health may be at risk, but the excess moisture could also be causing significant and costly damage to your home.Back to articles