Managing the humidity level inside a home is important for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment. High and low humidity can impact your comfort in different ways, and the best option for managing these issues is with either a dehumidifier or a humidifier.

The Effect Indoor Humidity Level Has on Your Comfort

The humidity level inside your home has a direct impact on your comfort level. Overly dry air can make you feel itchy and uncomfortable. That’s because dry air saps moisture out of your body, leading to your skin, hair, eyes and sinuses drying out. This is why many people use portable humidifiers when they’re sick to help prevent their throat, nose and sinuses from drying out as much.

Dry air can be a problem, but the much bigger issue in Florida is that many homes have an overly humid indoor environment throughout much of the year. While dry air does have an effect on comfort, the impact humidity has is far greater. You always feel much hotter whenever the humidity level is higher is because high humidity limits your body’s ability to cool itself through sweating. When the humidity level is lower, your sweat quickly evaporates and cools you off. When the humidity level is much higher, very little sweat can evaporate since the air is already quite saturated with moisture.

What Is the Ideal Humidity Level for a House?

How humid or dry you want your home to be is partly a matter of personal preference. That said, the majority of people feel most comfortable when the relative humidity is around 50%. Ideally, you always want to keep the humidity level in your home no higher than 55% or so. If the humidity is frequently above 60%, there is a much higher chance that condensation may form in various parts of your house. This can be a serious issue since the combination of this moisture and the warm air inside your house creates the ideal conditions for mold and mildew to start growing and spreading. Mold grows extremely quickly, and sometimes, it only takes a day or two for it to spread quite widely and create a serious infestation that requires professional mold remediation.

Trying to keep the humidity level in your home at around 50% or lower will also make your house feel cooler and more comfortable. That means you may be able to set your thermostat a few degrees higher than you would if your home was overly humid without your house feeling too hot. By doing so, you can reduce the workload on your air conditioning and save a bit on your energy bills.

Another thing to consider is that high humidity negatively impacts AC efficiency. That means that controlling the humidity level in your house will allow your air conditioning to work more efficiently so that your cooling costs stay as low as possible.

How a Whole-Home Dehumidifier Controls Indoor Humidity

Portable dehumidifiers can come in handy, but they generally aren’t an effective solution for controlling indoor humidity in overly humid places like Florida. Even if you constantly had a portable dehumidifier running in each room, there’s a fairly good chance your home would still be too humid at times. That’s because your air conditioning circulates moist air into every part of the home as it runs. AC systems do remove some moisture and dry out the air, but they’re only capable of doing so much since they typically only run a few times per hour. Another issue with portable dehumidifiers is that you frequently need to empty them or else they will automatically shut off when the water reservoir gets full.

All of these reasons are why a whole-home dehumidifier is the best choice if you have issues with your home frequently being overly humid and muggy. This type of dehumidifier works directly alongside a central air conditioning system. This means it will turn on when the AC does and then run for the duration of each cooling cycle. The dehumidifier is installed within the return air duct. This allows it to dry out the air being drawn into the air conditioning system before the air flows into the air handler where the AC evaporator coil is located. The unit also has a drain pipe connected to it. That is so that all of the water it collects either drains into your plumbing or to wherever your AC condensate line drains out. This means the unit basically requires no maintenance since all of the water drains away on its own.

Whole-home dehumidifiers are extremely effective, and most units can remove anywhere between eight and 13 gallons of water from a home per day depending on the size of the unit. The way the dehumidifier works is actually quite similar to the way your AC system works. That’s because it uses refrigerant and an evaporator coil to cool the air flowing through it. Once the air temperature decreases to its dew point, the water molecules in the air condense into liquid on the coil. The fact that the unit cools the air flowing through it means that there is less heat in the air that your AC has to remove. As such, the dehumidifier helps to lessen the workload on the AC system and allows it to work more effectively.

While a whole-home dehumidifier is primarily used alongside an air conditioning system, you can also use the unit when your AC is off. All you need to do is switch your thermostat so that only the fan runs. This way, the fan will continually pull air into the return duct to allow the dehumidifier to work and then pump the drier air back around your house. This is useful for cooler days when your home still feels overly humid but isn’t hot enough that your air conditioning runs all that much.

How a Whole-Home Humidifier Helps to Combat Dry Air

Dry air is a much bigger issue in colder climates because cold air doesn’t have as much capacity to hold moisture as warmer air does. In Florida, you’ll rarely ever need to worry about your home being too dry since even our winters are fairly warm and humid. Nonetheless, if you do find that your home feels too dry at times, then you should definitely consider investing in a whole-home humidifier. As with whole-home dehumidifiers, this type of unit runs alongside an HVAC system. That means it pumps moist air out into the ductwork so that the HVAC system then circulates it throughout the house.

The only issue is that most whole-home humidifiers work by using the hot air produced by a central heating system to evaporate the water inside them. This means that they’re not all that effective in Florida where you rarely need to heat your home. This is why a steam humidifier is your best option for humidification since it’s the only type of unit that can produce moisture independently without the heating system running.

Your Trusted HVAC Professionals

Erica's Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Restoration is a locally owned company providing expert air conditioning, plumbing and restoration services to customers in Boca Raton and throughout Broward and Palm Beach Counties. We specialize in AC, heat pump and ductless mini-split installation, repair and maintenance. As the area’s leading indoor air quality service, we’re also the company to trust for whole-home dehumidification, humidification and air filtration. For more information on the benefits of whole-home dehumidification or humidification, contact us today.

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