What Should My Home’s Humidity Level Be?

high humidity levels in the winterWhen it comes to heating and cooling, homeowners have many questions. We’ve heard them all – but one of the common ones we hear in the wintertime is “What should my home’s humidity level be?”  We also hear, “How do I measure my home’s humidity level?” Luckily, at Herrmann Services we have the answers. 

Why Is the Humidity Level Important?

Head colds, sinus infections, sore throats, coughs…they’re all more common in the winter. But did you ever stop to wonder why? Because our furnaces run all winter long, the air inside our homes gets drier and drier. Also, because we keep our homes shut tight to conserve energy and keep the heat in, not much fresh air enters your home in the winter. You may be surprised to learn that humidity plays a big role in keeping your family healthy in the winter. Low humidity affects the skin causing dryness, cracks, inflammation and peeling. Eczema flare-ups can be common as well. Low humidity is also associated with respiratory tract infections. (U.S. National Library of Medicine)

What Are the Symptoms to Look For?

If the humidity level drops too low, flu viruses are able to survive longer and be transmitted more easily between people. Mucous membranes in the nose and throat dry out, increasing your discomfort and susceptibility to colds. Breathing drier air can also contribute to sore throats and coughs as well as exacerbate symptoms of asthma and allergies. Dry itchy skin, cracked lips, and bloody noses are all more common in drier air as well. If you notice high incidences of static shock, your home is too dry. Look for any of these symptoms to tell you your home needs more humidity:

  • Itchy throats
  • Bloody noses
  • Dry coughs
  • Chapped and cracked lips
  • Dry, itchy skin and eyes
  • Dry, cracking wood and furniture
  • Static shock
  • Allergy and asthma flare-ups

Why Do Humidity Levels Drop in the Winter?

As outdoor temperatures drop during winter, humidity levels drop as well. Why? The answer is simple: Cold air has less capacity to hold moisture than warm air does and lower outdoor humidity levels translate to lower indoor humidity levels. This lack of moisture in the air is what creates low humidity levels. 

How Do You Measure Your Home’s Humidity Level?

Measuring the humidity in your home is easy. Simply head level is to head to your nearest home improvement store and purchase a hygrometer. Place this indoor humidity monitor in the room you want to test and follow the instructions. The hygrometer will show your home’s humidity level in a percentage.

What Humidity Level Is Best During Winter?

Problems are most prevalent when the humidity level drops below 30%. The ideal home humidity level is around 40-50%. This will reduce the symptoms listed above as well as lower the likelihood of static electricity. Your home will feel more comfortable and you can minimize the health issues that are commonly linked to low humidity during winter.

Whole-House Humidifiers Keep Humidity Levels Normal

Now that you know why, what can you do to raise the humidity in your home? Luckily, one of the easiest ways to add humidity back into the air in your home is to add a whole-house humidifier. A whole-house humidifier is installed on your furnace and adds moisture to the air every time the furnace kicks on. It’s virtually maintenance-free other than changing the pad at the beginning of the winter season.  

If you’d like more information about installing a whole-house humidifier in your home, give us a call at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online.