When Low Humidity and Your Health Collide
During the winter months when it gets chilly at night and you have to operate your heating system, the amount of moisture in your indoor air can drop. This happens because cooler air doesn’t hold as much moisture as warm air, and the heating system dries it out even more.
Excessively low humidity levels in your home can cause discomfort and health-related issues like:
- Dry, irritated eyes. Tears are your eyes’ natural lubricant and defense mechanism to flush out irritants and contaminants. When humidity is too low, you may not produce enough tears and your eyes can become irritated and more vulnerable to infections.
- Respiratory problems. The mucus membranes lining your nasal and respiratory passages can dry out if your air supply lacks enough moisture. This can cause chest congestion/coughing, nose bleeds or sore throats and aggravate conditions like asthma, allergies, chronic bronchitis and COPD.
- Skin issues. Low humidity also dries out your skin so it becomes scaly, irritated, itchy and prone to cracking.
- Greater risk of illness. Some viruses and bacteria thrive and spread easier in dry conditions, so there’s a greater chance of catching the flu, colds and upper respiratory/lung infections.
How to Deal With Low Humidity
The ideal range for indoor humidity in the winter is 30 to 50 percent. You can purchase an inexpensive device called a hygrometer to monitor air moisture levels, or download a hygrometer app on your smartphone. If you need to boost humidity at certain times of year, there are a couple of solutions worth considering:
- Table-top humidifiers. These units typically hold a couple of gallons of water. They’re ideal for use in a bedroom to make breathing more comfortable while sleeping
- Humidifier/dehumidifier combos. These devices can switch between adding and removing moisture as needed, so you can humidify when heating your home and dehumidify at other times. Most are portable floor models with removable tanks that hold a few gallons of water, so they have the capacity to humidify/dehumidify larger open spaces or multiple rooms.
For expert help solving humidity problems in your Orlando-area home, contact us at Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).