It’s no secret that the Midwest is known for humid summer days. That’s not always good news when it comes to indoor comfort. That’s because your AC unit will have to work overtime to get your humidity to a more reasonable range, which is considered to be around 30% to 50%.
There are health implications, too. Beyond feeling icky, high humidity can make you sick. This excess moisture in the air provides a perfect breeding ground for microbes. It can also cause damage to wood, paper, fabrics, and major mechanical systems like your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or even the toilets and pipes.
The good news? When you take an intentional approach to reduce humidity at home, you save on energy costs while enjoying better circulation and cooling of your home. Here’s a look at a few ways to get humidity under control in the summer months:
1. Invest in a hygrometer
You can’t control what you can’t measure. A hygrometer is a handy tool because you can leverage it to help you measure the relative humidity in your home. Easy to use, it’s a small instrument with a display that indicates the relative humidity in the room. If levels are off, you know it’s time to use either a humidifier or dehumidifier. Since humidity changes with the seasons, you will want to monitor it and make adjustments regularly.
2. Don’t forget ventilation
Proper ventilation is your first layer of protection against humidity. If you’re a fan of hot and long showers, you might want to rethink your habits. That’s because both release a significant amount of steam that can be problematic. To address this issue, always use a ventilation fan while bathing and open a window, if possible. Also, try to go easy on shower length and temperature. (It’s better for your skin and the environment anyway!)
Also, consider other household tasks like cooking and their impact on your indoor air quality. The steam from boiling can cause humidity, so be sure to use exhaust fans when appropriate. It’s also a good idea to cover all boiling pots and pans while cooking for the same reason.
In general, fans anywhere are going to help your cause, because they promote circulation that can reduce humidity and moisture in your home. Placing standing and portable fans in the most humid areas of the house can go a long way in keeping humidity at bay.
3. Cut back on laundry
You might not realize it, but your washer and dryer are major offenders when it comes to humidity. That’s why experts say it’s best to only use these appliances when you have a full load. Drying your clothes outside on a clothesline can help curb humidity. The same goes for making sure that your dryer’s ventilation is set up properly. If a dryer vents indoors, then you’re only doing yourself a disservice.
4. Monitor plants
Plants release moisture into the air, which is good in the cold and dry months. However, that can spell trouble if and when you’re concerned about having a damp environment. If you enjoy house plants, you might want to consider moving them to a patio or porch, as long as the weather allows. Also, take care to avoid overwatering, which can spell trouble. The same consideration applies to outdoor plants. Overwatering will create standing water near your foundation, upping humidity.
5. Get an AC tune-up
If you’re having trouble getting a handle on indoor humidity, you might have a larger problem on your hands. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a professional examine your AC at least annually, to ensure there’s nothing wrong, structurally. Your AC drain lines and drip pans are often an overlooked source of humidity. Make sure they’re clear of any blockages.
Controlling humidity means making sure it doesn’t get inside in the first place. Certain areas in your home are more prone to humidity than others. For example, windows, pipes, basements, and attics can harbor moisture. Insulating these areas can help decrease humidity and round out your energy bills year-round. It’s advised to use plastic wrap for windows and caulk to fill in wall cracks. The latter acts as another entryway for moisture but caulking can help keep it out. If you want a more aggressive measure, you can waterproof the walls of your home. Drylok and Xypex can be applied to your walls like paint and are effective in fixing cracks in concrete walls.
7. Keep surfaces dry
It might seem obvious, but the easiest way to control humidity in your home is to keep surfaces dry. You should keep this in mind when doing everyday tasks like washing dishes and brushing your teeth. Always make sure to wipe down the counters so there’s no water left on these surfaces. The end result can be mold and mildew, which can affect your health and indoor air quality.
If you are concerned that humidity levels are unmanageable at home, consult with a trusted, professional HVAC expert to ensure that your systems are keeping your indoor environment healthy, safe and comfortable. We’re ready and willing to answer your questions!