Controlling humidity in the wintertime is more important than a lot of Rochester homeowners realize. We get some cold, dry winters, and keeping the inside of your home comfortable is essential. When it comes to humidity, a lot of people only think about the summer, and how muggy it can feel, but cold temperatures often result in your home not being humid enough. There are a few reasons for this.
To start, cold air simply can't hold the same amount of moisture as warm air. Think the exact opposite of a muggy hot and sticky summer day. The colder it is, the dryer the air tends to be.
Plus, one the cold starts to make it's way into your home, the heater turns on. This adds warmth to your home, which makes it possible for the air inside to hold more moisture. The issue is, being that the windows and doors are closed, no moisture can make it's way into your home.
This results in the air becoming even less humid than it was in the first place. A common sign that the air is dry is static electricity, which travels easily in the cold, dry air. Also, there are health concerns when it comes to the low humidity.
A house with low humidity can lead to dry, irritated skin and eyes, nosebleeds and more small coughs and colds in the winter. The cold air can even draw moisture from your tear ducts, leaving you with dry, itchy eyes. It also saps moisture from your skin, leaving your skin dry and cracked.
Even worse, your mucous membranes can also get similarly irritated, leading to nosebleeds. The same happens in your respiratory tract. This is why you’re more susceptible to colds and viruses entering the body at this time of year.
Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to control your home humidity in the cold of wintertime. Doing any of these little tricks can improve the comfort in your home, as well as your health.
Rochester is known for having some rough winters. You may not even realize that there are easy steps you can take to make sure these winters are more manageable inside your cozy home! If the humidity level is just slightly off regular in the winter, there are some simple things you can do around the house to adjust the humidity ever so slightly. Many of these cost very little, or even nothing, and take just a few minutes to set up.
First, try air-drying your clothes instead of using the dryer if you have the space and time. The moisture from the clothes will stay in the air. Also this would make one less appliance generating more dry heat.
Another idea is to try leaving bowls of water around the house. Eventually, the water evaporates into the air. Another quicker and maybe less messy solution, boil some water on the stove. This will get the water vapor into the air, and help adjust the humidity to where it should be.
Some of those DIY solutions may work for some, but not all will create enough humidity to improve your health or comfort. They also may just not be your style. Luckily, there is technology you can bring into your home for relatively little money that increase humidity in your home for the winter.
The first product is common, and kind of obvious: a humidifier! Most of the ones you buy for your home are “evaporative” humidifiers. The way these work is by turning moisture into mist and then pushing that mist through the air in a room. They range from roughly $10 to over $200, but really humidifiers around $20 to $50 will handle an average-sized room. If you are going for a bigger room with high ceilings, you may need a bigger humidifier.
A less conventional option is an indoor vent kit. They cost roughly $10 and can easily be installed on the end of your dryer’s vent hose. Normally, that hose leads outside, releasing heat, moisture, and lint from your dryer. The vent kit is basically a cap on the end of that hose. This way you can keep the hose in the house without the lint flying around.
This leads that moisture to circulate through the house, adding to the humidity. As an added bonus in the winter, the heat stays indoors too, letting your heating system work a little bit easier.
Of course, you don't want to have TOO much humidity in your home. It can be easy to go overboard when trying to adjust your home humidity in the winter. Too much humidity, or moisture in the air, and you can run into other problems.
You can see obvious signs over too much humidity in the air, such as anything from paint starting to bubble or wallpaper peeling. Fortunately, you can keep track of the moisture in your home to see how effective — or not — your improvements are.
For this, you need a hygrometer. This tool will measure the humidity in your home just as a thermometer would measure the temperature. A decent digital hygrometer with a thermometer costs around $20. Older, analog hygrometers can be as cheap as $5.
When using a hygrometer, however, understand that it’s giving you the “relative” humidity, and not the “absolute” humidity. Relative is the one you hear in weather reports, and is shown as a percentage. It tells you how much moisture is present in the air, in relation to how much moisture the air at that temperature can hold.
Remember, cold air holds less moisture than warm air. This means an amount of moisture in colder air results in higher relative humidity than the same amount of moisture in the warmer air. That’s because it takes up more of the colder air’s capacity.
For winter temperatures, you never want humidity over 40 percent. Just under that amount is perfect when it’s between 20 and 49 degrees outside. When the outside temp drops between ten and 20, keep the humidity under 35 percent. And, if it goes below zero, keep the humidity under 30 percent.