Indoor Air Quality: HVAC & Humidity

You probably know that humidity and comfort are related. Humidity and temperature combined are two principal factors in determining what you think would be comfortable, though individual preference is a large factor as well: some people like colder or hotter climates more than others. Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Humidity and temperature are directly related: how much water the air can hold, and therefore the maximum humidity, changes depending on air temperature, so humidity is usually measured in percentage form.

Humidity and Health

Humidity also has health effects. If it’s too high, it may not harm you directly, but it does foster growth of molds and other unpleasant things, which can then cause you harm (or your house, for that matter). If it’s too low, you may find yourself suffering from itchiness, general dryness, and possibly nosebleeds. Relative humidity levels are an important consideration for any homeowner.

Humidity Control

Now that you know what the possible side effects of high/low humidity are, how do you control it? That’s what we’re looking at here. In wintertime, relative humidity may need to be less than the 40% mark at maximum. Note that if you’re one of the unfortunate souls to suffer from nosebleeds due to low humidity, installing a humidifier in your bedroom may be a good idea; at Brock Heating & Air, we’ll be happy to help. Just try not to get the humidity up so high that you end up with health problems from molds instead. One function of your HVAC system is removing excess moisture from the air, which lowers the humidity; this is one way to control the relative humidity of your home. It won’t always be enough; how much it can handle depends on the system you have and what your climate is like.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) suggests that a range of 45% to 55% humidity is sufficient for managing health effects and possible illnesses.

What Can HVAC Do For Me?

When you think of winter, you probably think of needing to turn on or turn up the heat. If you have older styles of heating, you might be thinking of getting firewood ready for a wood stove, for instance. What isn’t so often thought about is that the relative humidity of the air you’re in affects how a given temperature feels. You need to set the temperature, true, but you also need to control the humidity. HVAC equipment is designed to be able to handle humidity problems and control.

If your air conditioning system isn’t working right, then it’ll be tricky to achieve the comfort level you want, even if the temperature is great, because it also affects humidity.

In wintertime, low humidity becomes a problem: if your furnace is active for large periods of time (as it often is in climates where the heat ends up running every night or two), the humidity may drop quite low. This makes the environment feel cooler than it really is, in addition to causing health issues. It may damage wooden fixtures as well. In winter, you’ll want to have a humidifier running to balance this out.

If this article helped you or you have questions, call Brock Heating & Air today and we can have a conversation about it.

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