The benefits of humidification for your home and family
Humidification is an important yet often-overlooked aspect of your home’s comfort. You’ll certainly notice when the humidity reaches the 80 percent mark on those steamy summer days, yet you may not be aware of the detrimental effects of insufficient humidification (translation: dry air) during the winter season when the furnace is running.
If your home does not have a humidification system, you’ve probably noticed some of the symptoms, even if you didn’t realize the cause.
In fact, maintaining moderate humidity levels in your home is more important than ever, because the virus that causes COVID-19 thrives in low humidity conditions.
How humidification improves your home’s comfort
1. Prevents static electricity
In the colder months, do you and your family members get shocked every time you touch something metal in your home? Especially after walking across a carpet? That happens because of the electrical imbalance between your body and your surroundings, which is intensified when the air’s relative humidity is too low. When this happens to you all day long, it may begin to feel like you are part of somebody’s cruel science experiment.
Humidification adds moisture to the air which prevents the buildup of electricity and those painful shocks. In the cold weather months, your furnace can reduce the relative humidity in your building to as low as 15 percent. To prevent static, you want relative humidity levels of at least 45 percent in your space.
2. Improves air quality
Dry air (with relative humidity below about 30 percent) is associated with many air quality problems that cause discomfort, including sore eyes and problems with contact lenses, itchy skin, dry throat, sinus congestion and headaches. Odors are more noticeable in dry air. Low humidification levels can also make you feel colder, which makes it likely that your family members will be turning up the thermostat! Adding humidification in the winter saves energy and makes you more comfortable.
Related article: Read Green Building Advisor’s guidelines about humidification and indoor air quality
3. Keeps your family healthy (and helps prevent the spread of COVID)
Did you know that dry air can help multiply and spread the bacteria and viruses that cause respiratory infections (including COVID-19)? That’s one reason why it seems like you and your family members seem to catch every cold that goes around in the winter.
Dry air is particularly dangerous for people with asthma and other breathing difficulties, as well as for young children and the elderly.
Adding humidification to the air, and properly controlling the level so it remains at about 40 to 50 percent, can help prevent the spread of illness and keep your family healthier this winter.
4. Improves your sleep, mood and energy level
We all know that our moods can be affected by the weather (think seasonal effective disorder or even just irritability due to being uncomfortable on a steamy or freezing day). Yet you may be surprised to learn that humidification levels can affect your sleep, memory, emotions and energy levels.
If you notice that you’re sleepy, irritable and drained of energy in the winter, adding humidification to your home can help
5. Prevents damage to furnishings
Too-low relative humidity can damage more than your health and your emotional state. Your home’s furnishings can take a hit from exposure to dry air as well. Valuable things like furniture, paintings, floors and woodwork can dry out and crack when there is too little moisture in the air.
To protect your investment in your home’s décor, it pays to consider investing in a central humidification system for your home.
How central humidification can help
A central humidification system is attached to your home’s heating and air conditioning unit and your plumbing.
A device similar to a thermostat (called a humidistat) monitors the humidity levels in the air, so the air in your home can me maintained at the ideal humidity level for comfort (between 35 and 50 percent).
When the air is too dry, the humidifier adds moisture in the form of water vapor to the air being circulated throughout your home by your HVAC system. The humidification system uses water and the heat from your furnace to generate humidity, and circulate it along with warmed air through your home via your air ducts.
Unlike standalone humidifiers that work in only one room, a central humidification system controls the entire house, making it extremely efficient. You never need to worry about the safety of your children around hot steam. And the humidification equipment is completely out of sight, so you won’t be tripping over an ugly unit in the middle of your living room.
You never need to add water since it’s attached to your plumbing. You must have the unit professionally cleaned regularly, ideally at the same time you have your HVAC system serviced in the spring and fall.
Related article: Must-Have HVAC Features That Enhance Air Quality & Comfort
HVAC maintenance also helps control humidity levels
Regular HVAC maintenance helps keep humidity levels in your home at the ideal level for comfort and health. When your air conditioning and heating equipment is neglected and operating inefficiently, you can end up with humidity levels that are too high or too low.
A qualified HVAC contractor can perform an analysis of your HVAC system using ASHRAE guidelines to make sure the design is adequate for your home and your family. In addition, regularly scheduled preventative maintenance of heating and air conditioning systems is imperative for keeping your systems working effectively and keeping air quality at optimal levels.
To learn more about how to choose the right preventative maintenance agreement for your needs, grab a copy of our free guide to HVAC Preventive Maintenance Contracts: How to Find The Right One For Your HVAC Infrastructure.