Heating the home often means more than just heating the home; it also means making the air dryer. This may seem like a small matter of consequence on the surface but it can have surprisingly wide-reaching effects. In our part of Texas, we’re accustomed to high levels of humidity for most of the year. The humidity reaches its peak during the wetter months of April and May and subsides branching out from there.
What Causes Low Humidity in a House?
However, during the winter, this humidity reaches a low point. This is because we run our heaters the most often during the cold winter months and heaters dry out the air by heating. The result is humidity levels in the home that are far below what we’re used to most of the year.
This can lead to certain undesirable consequences, mostly because our bodies simply aren’t used to this low level of humidity. It can have a number of effects on one’s health that shouldn’t be discounted. Luckily, there is a solution. Humidifiers can help you get back control of the humidity levels in your home and dial just the right amount so that you feel great. Take a look at the rest of this tip for some signs that you may need a humidifier.
Can Low Humidity Cause Health Problems?
Yes - there are several potential negative health effects that you might notice as the result of lower humidity levels in your home. Some of these effects can be extremely similar to other problems like allergies and colds, so this sign isn’t a surefire way to prove you have a humidity problem, but in conjunction with some of the other signs on our list it can be an indication that it is something to look into.
Low Humidity Health Effects
Some of the effects on your health you might notice in a dry environment are:
- A chronic runny nose
- Nose bleeds
- Sinus congestion
- Dry throat
- Cough from the dryness that may accompany a sore throat.
- Consistently dry skin and always finding oneself in need of lotion or moisturizer for your face or hands
- Chapped lips
- Dry eyes
- Hay fever, asthma, or allergy flare-ups
Of course, there could be medical reasons for some of these, but generally, they signal too dry an environment and these are common signs that your home may need added moisture. However, when it comes to personal health, you should always consult with your physician when you have medical-related concerns. If all of your health ailments are related to the dryness outlined above then it wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that dry air has something to do with it.
What Happens If You Have Low Humidity in Your House?
There are other effects that low levels of humidity might cause for the house and materials within the house in addition to the effects it has on the human body. Seeing both these types of effects in conjunction with each other is a telltale sign of humidity levels that are too low.
Signs of Low Humidity in House
Low humidity can affect the quality of some of the things in your home as well.
- You might feel an overall sensation of stuffiness in the air, like the air itself is just a little uncomfortable
- You find yourself getting shocked every time you walk across the carpet in socks. Everyone has experienced this sensation at one point or another but if it becomes a regular thing then it is worth taking note of.
- Your house paint and furniture are peeling or chipping earlier than you expected. This becomes a big problem because this means you need to spend extra money to repair them. A humidifier will help you prolong the life of the paint in your home.
- Your wooden furniture is dry and cracking or wooden instruments seem to be developing cracks at an unusual rate.
- Wooden rungs might even come loose and pop out due to the slight changes in size caused by lowered humidity.
How to Measure Indoor Humidity
Of course, all of these signs can be misleading as well. There is really only one perfectly reliable sign that there’s too little moisture in your household and that is the one gathered by measuring it directly. This is where the hygrometer comes in.
What Is a Hygrometer?
The only way to know for sure whether or not you need a humidifier or dehumidifier is to purchase a hygrometer. A hygrometer is a special thermometer that can measure the amount of moisture in the air. Ideally, your home should be between 30% and 50% humidity to be normal and healthy.
Do I Need a Humidifier or Dehumidifier?
- If your home is below 30% humidity, then you should consider investing in a humidifier.
- If it’s over 50% then a dehumidifier is your best choice.
You should measure the amount of moisture in the air in each room of your house at different times of the day. You may not need a humidifier or dehumidifier for your entire home (which is good, because that can be very expensive).
So, if you've noticed some of the previous signs discussed, you should use a hygrometer to test for sure and see if low humidity is a problem in your home. That way you can not only be sure that buying a humidifier is the right choice, but you can also find out just how much of your home is affected and to what degree. Knowing these things will influence what kind of humidifier you ultimately purchase and what size.
What Are the Benefits of a Humidifier?
If your home has low humidity due to having a furnace or other type of heater that dries the air out, combined with the natural low humidity environment of the winter, then you will likely see many benefits from the use of a humidifier. Even if you don’t yet notice any glaring effects caused by low humidity, you may benefit from looking into buying a humidifier, depending on the kind of HVAC equipment you have. For example, if you have a powerful furnace that pumps a lot of hot air into your home on a frequent basis, you probably need a humidifier. This dry, hot air can be very hard to breathe.
Primary Benefits of a Humidifier:
Of course, the main benefits of using a humidifier come from the reversal of the negative effects of low humidity.
- More humidity in the air means the air will feel warmer. This means that you can use your furnace less and still feel just as comfortable and warm as if you were running the furnace more.
- Using a humidifier can actually save you money on your energy bill and help prolong the life of your furnace as it will undergo less use and therefore less wear and tear.
- You will have a significant reduction in the dryness of your skin, eyes, and throat.
- You’ll see a reduction in allergy symptoms and asthma problems.
- You’ll notice fewer negative effects on the wooden objects in your home such as the furniture.
- There won’t be as much static build-up in the home.
- Your home won’t feel as stuffy and uncomfortable to be in.
Keep Your Home Comfortable This Winter with a Humidifier
Moisture is an important component of the health of the air in your home and shouldn’t be ignored. Winter is a time when there is naturally less moisture in the air. Combine this with the dehumidifying effects of a furnace or heat pump and you’ve got a case of unusually and uncomfortably low humidity in the home. This can easily be solved with the use of dehumidifiers.