What is Humidity and How Does it Effect Home Energy Savings?

What is Humidity and How Does it Effect Home Energy Savings

by Don Ames,   www.detectenergy.com

We all know what humidity is - it is the cause of the mold on the ceiling in the bathroom. Humidity is what happens to the bathroom mirror during a shower. Humidity is why we have an exhaust fan in the ceiling of the bathroom. Humidity is why a hot summers day in Georgia is murder and a hot summers day in Denver is not too bad.

Perhaps, what is humidity is not the best question, it seems we all know about humidity and what it can do to a summer vacation or an overheated bathroom, but what does humidity have to do with home energy savings?

The main expense involved with a home, besides the mortgage,  has to do with heating and cooling and keeping the occupants of the home comfortable. Seems like there is always someone in the home that is either too warm or too cold. The reason people are too warm or too cold is because the temperature outside the home varies noticeable from the desired temperature inside the home. The outside temperature keeps trying to get in with the sole purpose of making us uncomfortable.

The humidity of the air inside the home determines how much heat the air in the home can hold. The higher the humidity at a given temperature, the more heat the air can hold. Therefore, humidity is a very important comfort factor since it determines how fast sweat will evaporate from the skin.

Too maintain comfort inside the home, the humidity inside the home must be controlled along with the temperature of the air. Consider a warm summers day, if the humidity inside the home increases, the air will hold more heat and the air conditioner will need to run longer to offset both the humidity and the warm air.

Temperature and Humidity

Likewise, on a cold winters day, the heating system will work hard to maintain a comfortable temperature in the home. If the humidity in the home drops too low, the  furnace will need to work even harder to maintain comfort because air with low humidity can not hold as much heat.

Here are some tips to help you control the level of humidity in the home so both the furnace and the air conditioner will have an easier time maintaining your comfort temperature.

To maintain indoor comfort concerning humidity:

1.   Install a small weather station that allows you to track temperature and humidity for both outside and inside your home.

2.   Keep indoor humidity between 30% and 45% during summer months.  To increase humidity install a humidifier.

3.  Keep indoor humidity between 45% and 55%  during wet winter months.  To lower humidity install a dehumidifier.

4.  Increase moving air currents during summer months by using fans to stabilize humidity and help the body cool itself.

Right Humidity Saves Energy

5.  Decrease moving air during winter months by air sealing the homes exterior.

6.  Use ceiling exhaust fans to remove unwanted humidity during baths and showers. Leave the fan on for 20 minutes after you leave the bathroom.

7.  Use range hood fans that exhaust to the outside to control unwanted humidity during cooking.

8.  Set an open pan of water on a wood,  gas, or pellet stove to add humidity to the room.

Humidity effects home energy savings by requiring the heating and cooling systems to work longer to overcome the negative contribution that too high or too low humidity brings to the interior of a home. Our skin is going to tell us when we are too hot or too cold. By maintaining the proper humidity, we can keep our skin happy without turning on the furnace or the air conditioner. When the furnace and air conditioner is not running, they are not using energy or costing us money.

What is humidity? It is moisture in the air that can reduce or increase our heating and cooling needs.

Thanks for stopping by Detect Energy, hope you will come back soon, but I won't leave the light on for you...

More from Don Ames and Detect Energy at www.detectenergy.com

 

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Tags: and, cooling, efficiency, energy, heating, humidity, relative, saving, temperature

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Comment by Don Ames on January 15, 2012 at 12:20am

Bob,  Thanks for the Oklahoma insight, as you can tell, I don't live anywhere near Oklahoma.  Don Ames

Comment by Bob Blanchette on January 14, 2012 at 11:01pm

In Oklahoma the reverse is true. Humidifiers are needed in WINTER, Dehumidifier in SUMMER (except last summer, it was crazy dry).

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