We easily see the effects of dry winter air in irritating static electricity. However, the trouble low humidity levels cause stretch well beyond clinging clothes and the ability for kids to shock each other.
The Effects of Dry Winter Air
One of the major effects of dry winter air is a cooler feel to the indoor temperature. The optimum humidity for comfort is around 40 percent. When the relative humidity is below that level, you may be tempted to turn your thermostat up a few degrees to feel warmer. And for every degree you bump up the thermostat, you’ll see a 4 percent increase in your heating bill.
But your bank account isn’t the only place you’ll feel the negative effects of dry winter air. Low humidity levels can also have a negative impact on your family’s health. Some of the adverse effects of extremely dry indoor air include:
- Irritation to the body’s mucous membrane. We feel this as dryness and itching of the eyes, nose, and throat.
- Lowered immunity. The mucous membrane is the body’s first line of defense against infection. When the mucous membrane thins due to dry air exposure, you become more susceptible to colds, the flu, and other illnesses.
- Asthma. Dry air can make asthma flare-ups more frequent and severe.
- Skin irritation. Dry and scaly skin, especially on the hands and feet, can become severe, causing them to crack and bleed.
Long-lasting low humidity can also have a negative impact on your home. A few of the effects dry air can have on your home include:
- Flaking or peeling paint.
- Cracks in wooden surfaces, including floors, walls, ceilings, cabinets, and furniture.
- Excessive static electricity can cause damage to sensitive electronic devices.
Dealing with Dry Winter Air
Winter air is naturally dry because as outdoor temperatures fall, the air contracts. Because the air molecules are more compact, the air has less capacity to hold moisture. This dry air gets inside your home through open doors and windows and causes your home’s relative humidity to fall.
But dry indoor air doesn’t have to be inevitable. There are steps you can take to restore relative humidity to a comfortable level and help protect your home’s interior and your family’s health.
Sealing Gaps and Cracks
First, seal cracks and gaps around doors and windows. Adding weather stripping to tighten door seals and caulk to seal cracks around windows, will go a long way to keeping dry winter air outdoors.
Other Small Ways to Increase Humidity
You can also add moisture to the air by allowing water to sit and evaporate into the air after you take a bath or shower. You can also leave bowls of water out to provide moisture as the water evaporates. Add a few drops of essential oil to the water to give a nice scent to the air in your home. Cooking on the stove can even help increase indoor humidity levels.
Add a Whole House Humidifier
One of the best ways to maintain comfortable humidity in your home is to have a whole house humidifier. A whole house humidifier works with your existing heating system to add moisture to the air inside your home.
Once installed by a qualified HVAC technician, a whole house humidifier brings water vapor into the duct system through a distribution tray. In this way, it helps adjust the indoor humidity level. You can monitor and control the level of humidity with simple adjustments to your thermostat.
For more information about how a whole house humidifier can work for you, contact your local HVAC professionals.
Dry winter air is a serious concern that should not be ignored. However, there are steps you can take to maintain humidity and protect your home and your family. Follow these steps and be comfortable all winter long.