Having trouble sleeping? Finding your doors sticky? Do the rooms smell musty? If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have high humidity (or too much moisture) in your home.
First, a quick rundown of why high humidity in hot weather causes so much personal discomfort. When your body is too warm, it produces sweat to stay cool. The moisture evaporating off your skin removes heat and makes you feel better. However, if the air is humid and already saturated with moisture, your sweat can’t evaporate, leaving you with a very muggy feeling.
The ideal humidity level for your home should be between 30 and 50 percent. During the summer, managing humidity is especially important for indoor comfort because warm air holds a lot more moisture than cold air. In your daily life, you experience this change in humidity levels when you shower, cook with uncovered pots on the stove, or leave standing water in a tub or sink (i.e. take a bath or wash dishes). To find out the humidity level in your home, you can use a hygrometer purchased from most home improvement retailers.
Let’s talk about air conditioners. ACs reduce humidity by drawing warm indoor air through a cold evaporator coil and condenses the water vapor from the air. The condensation is similar to the water beads that form on a cold drink. The water collected is then removed through a drain.
So, what if you’ve got the air conditioner running but your home still feels unbearably humid? It’s most likely because you’ve got an incorrectly sized unit or your equipment needs servicing. Having the right size AC for the job is crucial. Think about it this way. If you had a tiny window in a large room, or a huge window in a tiny room, you either have the window open 24/7 or you’ll find yourself opening and closing it constantly to reach a comfortable temperature. Neither sized window would be very effective. If your AC is too large, it will run for shorter amounts of time and stop before the length of time needed to dehumidify your home. If it’s too small, it can’t remove enough heat or humidity to reach the desired temperature and therefore runs all the time. The best thing to do is to get an assessment from a professional HVAC specialist who can calculate the appropriate size AC your home needs.
Just like temperature, having the right humidity level at home is imperative to staying comfortable. Understanding what comfort feels like to you will help you identify which systems you need and how you can make your space more energy efficient.