During our dry Southwestern Oklahoma winters, the humidity in your home can be uncomfortably low. Furnaces and other heating appliances can dry out your air even more, increasing discomfort and causing health problems. As such, it’s important to know how to counteract the adverse health effects of low humidity levels.
Cold air holds less water vapor than warm air, which is why humidity is usually lower during the winter than in the summer. A home’s ideal humidity level should be between 30 and 55 percent. In the winter, when temperatures are between 20 to 40 degrees outside, your home’s humidity should be 40 percent or lower to prevent condensation.
Effects of Low Humidity
Low humidity can dry out your skin, eyes and the mucous membrane that lines your respiratory tract. With its natural barrier compromised, your respiratory tract can be invaded by viruses and bacteria, which can lead to colds and other infections. What’s more, flu viruses actually survive longer when humidity levels are low. Low humidity can also lead to irritated sinuses, causing dry lips and skin to crack. Cracked skin offers another pathway for bacteria, which can lead to skin infections.
Combating Low Humidity
You can boost humidity by boiling a pan of water, growing house plants or misting the rooms in your home. The very best remedy for low humidity, however, is a whole-house humidifier. Plumbed into your HVAC system, whole-house humidifiers never need to be filled with water and require less maintenance than portable models.
Homeowners can choose between warm mist or cool mist types. Cool mist humidifiers are available in ultrasonic or evaporative models. Warm mist humidifiers are usually preferred during the winter because the steam produced by them can make your air feel warmer. These are also quieter than evaporative types, which use fans to disperse water vapor.
If your humidifier doesn’t come with a hygrometer to measure humidity, be sure to get one from the hardware store. You want to keep humidity within the recommended limits.
For more information on the health effects of low humidity levels in your home, contact Davis Air Conditioning in Southwest Oklahoma.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Lawton and Duncan, Oklahoma area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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