What Is the Ideal Humidity Comfort Level for Your House?

Minnesota winter weather can cause extreme dryness. Learn how to improve your home’s indoor air quality and humidity comfort levels.

Woman holding her throat

What do pianos, plants, people, and even PCs all need to thrive? The moist air of course, but there’s a catch: too much moisture — or unhealthy moisture  — can cause serious problems. Interested in increasing your home’s air moisture without encouraging mold, dust mites or bacteria that can lead to or exacerbate respiratory problems? You’re in luck! This Standard Heating post and the next several posts to follow are devoted to this important topic.

Indoor Humidity Comfort Levels in the Winter

January is a good time to think about adding humidity to your home because indoor air in the winter can be especially dry. It’s not uncommon for indoor humidity levels to be as low as ten percent in the winter. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises maintaining the relative humidity in your home between 30-50 percent. The exception is when outdoor temperatures drop below 10°F—you should aim to keep your home’s relative humidity around 20-30%.

Too much moisture is also bad. Use these outdoor temperature guidelines to determine your ideal indoor humidity levels. “Humidity levels above 60 percent may allow moisture to build up indoors and condense on surfaces, where bacteria and fungi can settle and grow. You can measure humidity with an instrument called a hygrometer, available at your local hardware store,” notes the CPSC website.

Winter also is the time that many develop sore throats, which The American Academy of Otolaryngology advises can be alleviated through the use of a steamer or humidifier in the bedroom. Moist air helps soothe the irritation of nasal passages, the throat and bronchial tubes. This leads to better sleep and easier breathing.

Interestingly, the correct amount of indoor air moisture also can help prevent illness. The reason is that bacteria and viruses are more likely to filter out when your nose is moist and working optimally. (Say goodbye to dry sinuses and bloody noses!)

4 Reasons to Increase Humidity in Your Home

Here are a few other reasons to consider increasing the air moisture in your home:

  1. You will look, sleep and even sound better! Dry air can lead to snoring and poor sleep. Upping the moisture in your bedroom can eliminate this problem. Proper indoor moisture preserves your voice by keeping your vocal cords well lubricated and supple. Humidifiers provide moisture for your skin and lips too (drinking plenty of water helps too of course).
  2. Protect wood furniture and musical instruments by providing enough moisture to prevent the wood from splitting and cracking.
  3. Hydrate plants with adequate humidity and avoid dry brown tips on your indoor plants, especially those that originate in tropical climates.
  4. Protect electronic equipment, which can be damaged from static electricity due to dry indoor air.

These are just some of the many reasons to consider adding a humidifier to your home. Check back for our next post to learn more how to use humidifiers properly and how to avoid common pitfalls, such as improper maintenance or excessive indoor humidity levels. We’ll also review some air filter basics and the different varieties of humidifiers later this month.

Are you considering installing a humidifier? Installing a new whole-home humidifier, which is part of your overall HVAC (heating, venting, and air conditioning) system, is most cost-effective when it’s part of an overall new system replacement. Schedule a free in-home consultation for an estimate on your HVAC replacement cost. In the month of January, a premium system from Standard Heating includes a whole-home humidifier and air cleaner at no additional cost.

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