Dry air in homes during the cold winter months can affect overall comfort and health as well as damage valuable woodwork. As outside air temperatures drop, the air inside loses the ability to hold water vapor. The result is a decrease in relative humidity levels. Further, interior air expands as it heats up, causing an even more pronounced decline in moisture. When interior humidity levels are too low, it feels uncomfortable and can produce a variety of other issues.
Increasing Moisture in the Air
An increase in static electricity is usually the first indication of low humidity. Excessive friction produces shocks and can also damage electrical equipment such as computers and televisions. Dry air can exacerbate asthma and allergies, increase the frequency of respiratory ailments including the flu and colds, and create itchy, dry, and cracked skin. It can also result in peeling wallpaper, cracking drywall and plaster, and widening of gaps in wood paneling and floors. Here are six straightforward and creative ways to increase interior humidity.
- Install a whole-house humidifier. Homes with forced-air heating or central air conditioning may benefit from installing a whole-house humidifier from Wilmington Heating. These units connect directly to the heating or cooling system and utilize existing ductwork to distribute the added moisture throughout the entire house.
- Air dry dishes after running the dishwasher. Instead of using the dishwasher’s heated drying cycle, opening the door of the appliance allows the dishes to air dry and releases the moisture into the air, increasing the interior humidity and reducing energy costs.
- Stand-alone humidifiers. Depending on the size of the house, multiple independent units may help increase humidity and comfort levels when situated in different rooms throughout the home. The result is a warmer environment and a decrease in energy charges.
- Place bowls of water around the home. Place a metal or ceramic bowl of water on top of floor registers, sunny windowsills, or radiant heating units. The heat gently warms the water as it evaporates slowly into the air and naturally increases the humidity levels inside the home.
- Take up indoor gardening. Houseplants add humidity by continuously releasing moisture from their leaves and stems as vapor to regulate interior humidity levels. For homeowners without a green thumb, there are many hardy house plants available that also purify the air.
- Boil water. Boiling water in a covered pot is an effective, natural, and fast way to increase the moisture inside a home. As the water begins to boil, just remove the lid. A few eucalyptus or tea tree drops add a soothing effect and can also help kill airborne germs.
Most homeowners spend the cold winter months indoors. A few simple adjustments can increase interior humidity levels significantly and create a warm and healthy environment.
Understanding the Damaging Effects
The dry, frigid winter months can drain the relative humidity in homes by as much as 85 percent. This decrease in moisture can produce a variety of problems for homeowners. However, controlling interior humidity levels can reduce sickness, decrease energy bills, and protect valuable possessions.