It’s Not Necessarily the Heat, It’s the Humidity
We all know that uncomfortable, icky feeling produced by barometer-breaking humidity; where five minutes after you get out of the shower and already you feel like you need to get back in. Your clothes stick, your hair is frizzy, and you almost yearn for those arctic airstreams of winter. Well, it turns out that your house finds abnormal humidity distasteful, as well.
Today, the average 2,000-square-foot new home contains approximately six hundred gallons of water within its wood content. If the humidity stays constant at around 35% indoors, the wood will remain stable and strong. The modern homes of today are able to efficiently regulate heating and cooling when desired, however, these densely sealed and weatherproofed structures restrict the movement of moisture which can be problematic on several fronts.
During the summer there exists a host of specific problems caused by high moisture. Because the human body employs “evaporative cooling” to control its internal temperature, we still seem uncomfortable in humid environments because sweat doesn’t dissipate as easily. For example, though the temperature may be 65℉, at a relative humidity of 60% we would feel hotter than we would at the same temperature with a normal relative humidity level of about 30%. This is why lowering the thermostat is futile if your air conditioner can’t properly regulate moisture efficiently.
Summer air tends to be heavy and laden with moisture. Indoors, high humidity levels can cause hardwood floors to cup in places, while cabinet doors might not close completely, and paint is prone to peeling. What’s more, wet air is a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and other microscopic spores. Behind walls and inside vents are perfect for mold and mildew colonies which can be seriously harmful to your health. Dust mites also thrive in this setting, which can be harrowing to asthmatics and allergy sufferers.
The best summertime remedy to keep humidity within the recommended 30% to 40% range is undisputedly central air conditioning. When hot, moist air in your home engages the cold evaporator coil, liquid is then condensed out of the air, decreasing dampness levels. The moisture collected by the evaporator coil is then expelled outside. If your HVAC system is old or inefficient the attendant moisture levels may be cause for discomfort. You might be tempted to fiddle with the thermostat to feel better which would put undue strain on the system by making it work harder and longer, all the while driving up your energy bills. You can always purchase humidifiers, dehumidifiers, or humidistats. However, most new HVAC systems are already equipped with these, or similar mechanisms to bolster comfort, optimize air quality, and reduce structural or cosmetic damage. And it’s always recommended to err on the side of caution and consult an HVAC professional to diagnose troublesome and consistent humidity complications if you suspect humidity issues.