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Humidity and the Comfortable Home

humidity-airYeah, yeah. We know. It’s not the heat, it’s the ____. Trouble is, humidity works both ways. In hot weather, it makes us feel damp and miserable. In cold weather, it adds to the chill factor.

Humidity is not a bad thing, of course. You wouldn’t want to live on a high peak in the desert where the humidity is 10%. Skin dries and flakes. Hair and clothing pick up static electricity. Sparks fly.

So what’s the right level of humidity? Relative humidity (the amount of moisture content in the air) should be between 40-60%. This is a real concern in today’s well-insulated homes. One of our contractors told of a house where the owner went crazy with insulation, adding 12 inches to the roofline, walls, and the crawl space.

In fact, he was too effective. The vapor barrier contributed to the growth of mold and now he is tearing out the insulation— not to mention his hair.

Not too much, not too little


If don’t feel like de-insulating your home and humidity is a problem, you might want to consider a whole-house dehumidifier. Some people put these in the attic or crawl space. There is an Aprilaire model that can remove 12 gallons per day. Since the whole-home models are connected to your water supply (your HVAC guy can do this), you never need to worry about emptying the pan. The Apriaire model has a MERV (efficiency) rating of 8 and uses R410-A refrigerant (better than the old ozone-destroying ones). For more information on that product, here’s a link: http://www.comfortup.com/aprilaire-1850a-whole-home-large-capacity-dehumidifier.

Aprilaire also makes a smaller-capacity whole-home dehumidifier that is designed for a townhouse or a condo. If you need a portable, there are models that can be rolled around the house and will extract nearly nine gallons a day from the air.

Your air conditioner is designed to remove humidity, but it’s important that the unit is sized for your space. If you buy too big an AC, it will shut down before the humidity can be sucked out. Heat pumps are good dehumidifiers.

For instance, this one— http://www.comfortup.com/gree-crown-series-9-000-btu-single-zone-ductless-split-heat-pump-system-208-230-vac– is designed to heat, cool and dehumidify.

Many models have a humidstat; some are detachable so you can hang the gauge on the kitchen wall to keep an eye on the humidity level.

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