Ideal indoor humidity levels and how to control them at home
If humidity levels dip too low your furniture and house will deteriorate and certain germs will thrive. Let's talk about what humidity levels you should keep in your home year round, and different techniques to do so.
Ideal in-home humidity levels should hover around 45%. Anything under 30% is too dry, over 50% is too high.
How to gauge indoor humidity levels
You mean you don't have a sixth sense for humidity levels? Yeah, no, almost none of us do. But there are some simple ways you can determine if humidity in your home is too low or high:
Fogging and condensation accumulating on windows, moisture and mould occurring on walls and ceilings is an indication of too much humidity.
Increased instances of static electricity, dried and cracking millwork and paint indicate low humidity levels.
What to do if humidity levels are too low
During the winter, especially, humidity levels drop because cold air holds less moisture than warm air. Homes that utilise forced air heating have an exacerbated problem because furnaces use combustion to create hot air, thus burning out most of the water vapour that existed in the first place. To make matters worse, when humidity levels dip, the ambient air feels cooler than more humid environments, and we turn up the heat to compensate.
Low humidity causes static electricity, dry skin and hair, increased susceptibility to colds and respiratory illness, and can allow viruses and germs to thrive. Wood floors, furniture and millwork will split and crack, paint will chip, and electronics can be damaged because of low humidity levels.
Adding a humidifier to your home will remedy these problems; there are two standard types from which to choose:
Adding moisture to the air is as simple as placing a vessel of water on top of, or next to, a radiator or other air heating system (they make chic little containers just for this purpose). Leaving wet towels and clothes out to dry are other ways to introduce moisture into the air. This is a very low-tech and low power method, however the strength and humidity controls are limited, and available moisture is dependent on the size of the vessel used, and must be frequently refilled.
The most common type of humidifier is a portable one, like the type you set down on the floor or another surface. There are two types: cool mist and warm mist, both of which use a reservoir to hold water. The cool mist uses a wick to absorb the water and a fan blows air through a moistened filter as the air passes through the filter, it evaporates some of the water into the room. Warm mist humidifiers use a heating element that heats the water before dispersing it into the air. The pros of portable systems are that they are easy to use, a variety of styles and prices are available, and they can be moved as needed.
Whichever method you choose, re-introducing moisture to your home may be important in the cold spells to come over the winter, and Christmas. Ensure you and your family stay safe and comfortable by monitoring the levels and adjusting accordingly.Back to articles