The ideal indoor humidity level affect your overall comfort as well as the stability of your home or other structure. Excessive humidity encourages the growth of mold, mildew, and similar contaminants along drywall, on wood framework, underneath carpet padding, and along other surfaces inside a home or office.
On the other hand, overly dry air is uncomfortable for breathing and can cause skin dryness and irritations. Excessively dry air inside your home or office also dries out wood framework and hardwood floors, causing the material to shrink, curl, and otherwise warp. In that case, it may be time to think about a whole house humidifier.
Generally speaking, indoor humidity levels should be kept above 30%, with ideal humidity levels in the 40% to 50% range. This should be adjusted throughout the year, to accommodate average outdoor temperatures that affect indoor humidity levels.
- What Does “Relative Humidity” Mean?
- Why Humidity Levels Are Important
What Does “Relative Humidity” Mean?
To better understand the ideal indoor humidity for your home or office, it’s good to understand what is meant by “relative humidity.” In simple terms, relative humidity refers to the amount of water vapor present in the atmosphere, compared to the amount of vapor needed to fully saturate the air.
To help you understand this point, a rainstorm is often measured in terms of 100% humidity. The air is nearly 100% saturated with water vapor when it’s pouring rain; when it’s only sprinkling outside, the humidity levels are lower.
This principle is true inside your home. When there are large amounts of water vapor in the air, your indoor relative humidity levels go up. During winter months, when water doesn’t evaporate and create vapor so easily, indoor humidity levels go down.
Why Humidity Levels Are Important
Note some additional information about why your indoor relative humidity levels are important to consider and control throughout the year. This will ensure you’re doing everything possible to keep your home and yourself safe and protected no matter the outside temperature or humidity levels!
Why You Need to Avoid Excessive Indoor Humidity
Excessive humidity is often more dangerous than homeowners realize and can damage a home in many ways. Note some reasons why you want to avoid excessive indoor humidity and maintain a more ambient humidity level in the home.
Why You Need to Avoid an Interior That’s Overly Dry
While excessive indoor humidity is damaging to you and your home, an interior that’s overly dry is not safe either! Consider some risk factors if your home or office is consistently dry throughout the year.
The Ideal Indoor Humidity During Summer
During summer, the humidity outdoors will typically be higher than average. In turn, it’s good to keep your indoor humidity levels lower than usual, to avoid trapped moisture and humidity in the home and to prevent your air conditioner from cycling on more than it should.
In most areas, it’s good to keep your indoor humidity at around the 30% to 45% mark during summer months. If your indoor humidity is higher, your home might feel hot and stuffy or even downright clammy. Adjust this range according to your own comfort levels and as the outdoor temperature and humidity adjusts as well.
The Ideal Indoor Humidity During Winter
Since air is typically drier outside during winter months it’s good to have a higher humidity level indoors during wintertime, although you want to avoid too much interior humidity. If a home’s indoor space is overly moist when the outside temperature is very cold, you’ll soon notice condensation on the windows and elsewhere. This can lead to water damage of window frames and the caulk around window panes, and even risk mold growth in the home!
Ideally, you might aim for a 40% indoor humidity level during winter months, and can adjust this level according to your own comfort. For example, if you tend to have very dry skin to begin with, you might need a bit more humidity indoors to ensure your skin is healthy during dry winter months. On the other hand, in areas where winter temperatures fluctuate consistently, you might prefer lower humidity levels, to compensate for added moisture levels outside the home.
How to Maintain Ideal Indoor Humidity Levels
The best way to maintain ideal indoor humidity levels throughout the year is to maintain your home’s heating and cooling systems properly. Your home’s air conditioner will remove moisture as it cools the home, so a high-quality A/C unit will help maintain proper humidity levels during summertime.
While a quality air conditioner will work to maintain humidity levels, note that an overly powerful or large A/C might cool the air before it can remove humidity! If your home feels cool but clammy during summer months, consider swapping out the air conditioner for something smaller and more appropriately sized for the home.
Many residential furnaces also have humidifiers attached so that they deliver some added humidity as they warm the air, keeping a home from feeling dry and stuffy during winter months. If your home’s furnace doesn’t have a humidifier, consider purchasing a stand-alone unit for various rooms of the house. These will add needed moisture through dry winter months and keep your home’s interior comfortable.
Additional Tips for Maintaining an Ideal Indoor Humidity
Consider a few additional tips for maintaining an ideal indoor humidity level throughout the year, and remember that you can discuss these tips with a residential heating and cooling expert who can also note added ways of ensuring your comfort throughout summer and winter months.