According to ENERGY STAR®, the ideal indoor humidity level is between 30 and 50 percent. In addition to just making you uncomfortable, high humidity levels can pose a threat to your home’s structure and surfaces. Help clear the air with these tips for reducing and controlling humidity at home.
Why Home Humidity Matters
Managing indoor humidity levels can:
- Improve personal comfort.
- Control moisture that can damage your home’s wood, paint and siding.
- Prevent mildew growth and odors in clothing and belongings.
- Improve indoor air quality by reducing dust mites, mold and other allergens.
- Reduce pest infestations.
- Improve the energy efficiency of your air conditioner.
How to Help Reduce and Control Humidity
Some Southern homeowners use their air conditioners year-round to combat humidity. Theo Etzel, CEO of Conditioned Air Corporation of Naples, Inc. in Naples, Florida, has these recommendations for more effective continuous use of your cooling system:
- Set the fan to automatic. (Keeping it in the “on” position actually re-humidifies the space by blowing air over a wet coil when the condenser cycles off.)
- Invest in a unit with a variable-speed air handler.
- Consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier.
- Don’t automatically lower the thermostat. Etzel says turning down the thermostat to reduce humidity can actually be a sign of an oversized air conditioning system.
Ways to Help Cut Excess Humidity
Etzel notes that air-conditioning systems can only keep up with the moisture they’re designed to remove, whether the systems condition fresh incoming air, recirculating interior air, or both.
Here are ways to help keep additional moisture and humidity from infiltrating the home:
- Vent clothes dryers to the outdoors.
- Install vent fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
- Run a dehumidifier.
- Cover dirt floors in crawl spaces with a plastic vapor barrier.
- Seal air and duct leaks.
- Select houseplants that absorb moisture from the air, such as Boston ferns.
- Keep air-conditioning drip pans and drain lines clean and unobstructed.
- Avoid activities that add moisture to the air on humid days, such as taking hot showers and boiling water on the stove.
- Take measures outside. ENERGY STAR suggests keeping gutters and downspouts clean, extending downspouts further from the house, watering plants only when needed and sloping soil away from foundations to keep water from pooling.
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