I began noticing it a few days ago, but a quick run through the Weather Channel or flipping through a few webpages confirms it. July is here, and for the 4th, he brought friends – heat and humidity. While most of us weather these conditions with varying degrees of sweatiness, high humidity can present a unique set of challenges throughout the summer, and if not properly managed can lead to insects and mold throughout your home.
_Relative humidity levels across the country are starting to spike into the 65-78% range, and typically you will notice high humidity in the mornings. This is a perfect example of how temperature can effect relatively humidity. If the moisture is constant but the temperature sinks, that same amount of moisture represents a larger portion of the overall moisture that the air can hold at that particular temperature. (Who said Bill Ney the Science Guy wasn't educational?)
_During warm summer months, the moisture levels in your home can increase. As the moisture in the outside air increases, so too does it in your home. Many of us run air conditioning throughout the summer months, and while this does wonders to alleviate higher temps, it can actually cause the relatively humidity in a home to increase. This is why you can sometimes be indoors but still feel ‘sticky’ during the summer.
_Air conditioners use refrigerant to cool the air while a fan or blower pushes it throughout your home. As the air passes over refrigerated coils, the temperature is driven down and moisture will precipitate out, which is why you almost always have condensate lines running from any style of refrigerant air conditioner.
_Where the air conditioner can falter a bit is in the moisture removal process. While some moisture precipitates out, the lower temperature in the home means that the remaining water in the air makes up a higher percentage of the relative humidity. This where a dehumidifier, working in conjunction with your air conditioner can help.
_Refrigerant style dehumidifiers, work on the same principles as an air conditioner EXCEPT, instead of putting cold air back into the room, the air is warmed before it exits. This warmed air acts like a magnet for moisture and as it recirculates through the dehumidifier, makes the drying process more efficient.
_In specific areas of the home, like your basement, ground floor or even crawlspace, the air can feel particularly damp, though cool. In these spaces a dehumidifier can remove excess moisture and actually make the cooling process of the air conditioner more efficient.
_Whether you use a room dehumidifier like a Danby or opt for a unit that ties directly into the HVAC like an Aprilaire whole home dehumidifier, both can increase cooling efficiency in the home and better reduce humidity than an air conditioner alone. This is important because not only can mold thrive in conditions of 50% relatively humidity or higher, but insects LOVE moist air. When they're thirsty they cannot simply saunter up to the faucet and pour themselves a refreshing glass of water. Instead, they are constantly absorbing moisture through their skin. So by reducing the humidity in any given space you make that space less hospitable for insects.
_So as the 4th of July approaches, don't let heat and humidity invite even more friends to the party (mold and insects). Unwanted guests are simply that, unwanted, and these two in particular can tend to linger well after the festivities end. If excess moisture is a problem in your home or your home feels cool but still sticky, consider a dehumidifier to help remedy the problem.
_Author: Kevin Gilmore