Lubbock is in a drought, and with this comes more dirt in the air, hotter temperatures, and drier air. No matter what type of climate you live in, varying levels of relative humidity in the air can directly affect the comfort of your home as well as the proper functioning of your heating and air conditioning units. Low humidity, like what we experience in Lubbock and surrounding areas, can be very hard on the structure of the house. The lumber in your home may crack and you may notice gaps around doors and windows. Your furniture may also dry out and you may notice things getting wobbly as the glue in the furniture joints fails due to wood shrinkage. Dry air will also dry out your lips, eyes and nose. Those with asthma and allergies may suffer more and some may notice nosebleeds and sore eyes if the air in your home is too dry. Adversely, too much humidity in your home can foster mold growth, which leads to various health issues and possible structural damage to your home. That’s why it’s very important to find your home’s ideal humidity level.
For those in areas of the country with a humid climate, the most efficient and reliable way to manage the moisture in a home is to have a professional install a dehumidifier which works with your AC system to pull excess water from the air before it is sent through the air ducts in your home. These can be installed in your new or old unit by an HVAC professional. During the summer months, the average humidity should weigh in between 30-45 percent (below the 50% mark). Winter may require lower than 40% relative humidity to avoid condensation on your windows. By staying in the proper ranges, problems can be prevented and keeping your home at the right level of humidity will help your home to feel cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) suggests an overall average range of 45% – 55% humidity to manage health effects and illnesses.
- Comfortable: 30% – 60%
- Recommended: 45% – 55%
- High: 55% – 80%
For west Texans, our issue is more often than not a lack of moisture in the air, which can irritate allergies and asthma and contribute to dry eyes, nose, and skin. A great start to resolving this issue is to add an appropriate amount of moisture to the air with a humidifier. Like a dehumidifier, this appliance can be installed right on your system to help improve HVAC performance. It adds moisture to air before it is passed through the ducts in your home. The result is a warmer, more comfortable home and a likely reduction in your energy bills. A stand-alone humidifier can also be purchased to add humidification to the home. Depending on the size of the appliance and the size of your home, you may need multiple units in different rooms of the house to feel comfortable.
A larger but more efficient option for adding moisture to the air in your home is getting a whole-home humidifier installed by a professional through SPECS Refrigeration. Whole-home humidifiers are the best and most efficient way to add needed humidity to your home’s air. There are a few different types of whole-home humidifiers that you can choose to have installed based on your home’s existing or new system.
- Bypass Humidifiers: Bypass humidifiers add moisture to warm air via a furnace. These types of humidifiers take warm air from the home’s heating ducts and pass it through a water tray. This allows the air to collect moisture which is then delivered back into the house.
- Fan-powered Humidifiers: The only real difference between a fan-powered humidifier and a bypass humidifier is that the former uses a fan to push air through the water tray for increased water evaporation. Fan-powered humidifiers are able to produce up to a gallon more of humidity per day compared to bypass humidifiers. They’re also more energy-efficient, as the internal fan uses the same amount of electricity as a 25-watt light bulb.
- Steam Humidifiers: Steam humidifiers work by electrically boiling water to create humidity in the form of steam. The steam is then picked up and pushed throughout the ventilation system. Steam humidifiers are the fastest and most efficient way to increase and maintain a good level of humidity in your home. Steam whole-house humidifiers also provide the purest and most natural form of humidity that you can have within your home. Steam humidifiers are able to run moisture regardless of the condition of your heating/cooling system.
In closing, adjusting and tracking the humidity levels in your home can help you maximize the comfort of your home, prevent common health issues and irritants, and even boost the efficiency of your HVAC unit. If you’re interested in this process and how it might fit in your home, call SPECS Refrigeration, Heating & Air for a consultation today.