As if the short days weren’t bad enough, winter hits us with the one-two punch of cold and dry air. But there’s good news! Armed with a little know-how, and a few key tools for both measuring humidity and controlling humidity, you can turn your home into a winter haven.
When the temperature drops, we naturally crank the heat in our homes. But that can exacerbate the effects of dry winter air. How, you ask? The heating systems in typical homes not only circulate warm air, but also degrade indoor air quality by spreading around airborne pollen, germs, and dust.1
To make matters worse, your dried-out nasal passages have reduced ability to trap viruses and other harmful things. In other words, there are more things floating around that can make you feel bad, and your respiratory system is less able to deal with them.2 So not only do dry air symptoms include chapped lips, dry air nose bleeds, cracked, itchy skin and a dry air sore throat, you’re also more likely to get colds, sinus infections, the flu and/or suffer from allergies.
For most people, a home is their biggest investment. Therefore, it’s important to know dry air in your house can damage drywall, wooden trim, and hardwood floors.3
It can also potentially damage valuables and personal possessions. Things like musical instruments, books, and artwork are at risk when subjected to extended periods of dry air in your home in winter.
An obvious solution to dry air in your home is to run a humidifier. But you have to be careful about it. Too much humidity can result in equally harmful things like mold, bacteria and dust mites.
There are lots of articles and resources that teach you how to use a humidifier to control humidity. Practically every recommended method will involve using a hygrometer for measuring humidity.
Want to maintain optimal humidity levels throughout the winter? A precision humidity gauge, such as an AcuRite digital hygrometer, will be your best ally.
Used in conjunction with a quality, regularly-maintained and cleaned humidifier (NOTE: humidifiers can develop mold if not routinely cleaned), you can help ensure proper indoor conditions.
AcuRite's weather and environment products that track indoor humidity feature a humidity level icon, or home comfort icon, to easily convey a low, high or ideal humidity level for your health and home environment. The ideal humidity level, or home comfort, is determined through relative humidity (RH) levels.
LOW Humidity Level
Less than 25% RH Humidity level is low relative to the temperature. This makes for a dry environment.
OK Humidity Level
Between 25% - 55% RH Humidity level is OK relative to the temperature. This makes for a comfortable environment.
HIGH Humidity Level
Over 55% RH Humidity level is high relative to the temperature. This makes for a humid environment.
For accurate readings, place the temperature and humidity monitor away from windows, doors, vents, humidifiers, dehumidifiers and other direct sources of heat or moisture.
1Krisha McCoy, MS, "Regular HVAC Care Helps Control Allergy Symptoms," Everyday Health October 10, 2013
2 Reviewed by Lisa B. Bernstein, MD, “Manage Dry Indoor Air This Winter,” WebMD May 22, 2015
3 Darcy Logan, “How to Maintain the Proper Humidity Levels in Your Home,” doityourself