The temperature is dropping, and winter is almost here. This is when the humidity levels start to go down. We also increase the heat indoors so we can stay warm. All of this means indoor moisture levels get pretty low through the winter. Find out why that’s a problem, and how to increase indoor humidity in winter.
- What Causes Low Humidity?
- How to Increase Humidity in your House Quickly
- How to Raise Humidity in your House Naturally
- 1 // Lower the heat on your thermostat
- 2 // Cooking without lids
- 3 // Air-drying freshly washed dishes
- 4 // Releasing evaporating water from the bathroom
- 5 // Air-drying your washed laundry inside
- 6 // Keep decorative water bowls or fountains
- 7 // Use an essential oil diffuser
- 8 // Bring in houseplants
- 9 // Spray water from a bottle
- How to Reduce Humidity in your House in Winter
- Save Energy This Winter
What Causes Low Humidity?
Our indoor heating and cooling systems suck the moisture out of the air. Add poor ventilation to that, and the indoor air can become quite dry. Cold air is able to hold less moisture than warm air. So when outside temperatures drop in the winter, and we turn up the heating and make our homes more airtight, humidity levels go down even further, and can cause a lot of health issues.
What are the signs that your home is too dry?
Dry ambient air can weaken your body’s immune response. Are you or your housemates experiencing dry or itchy eyes, or nose bleeds? Or throat problems? Allergies? Dehydration and cracked lips or skin? These are all signs of being in an atmosphere that’s very dry. You will also notice increased static electricity in your freshly laundered clothes and dry blankets.
Look at the wood inside your home. Is it cracking, or coming apart where it’s been glued? Your indoor air is too dry if it is! In fact, if you have wooden floors, they may crack, and, unfortunately, your manufacturer’s warranty may have a clause that voids it due to “inappropriate humidity levels.”
What is the best humidity level for your home in winter?
Low humidity is generally measured under 35 percent. But according to the Mayo Clinic, the Goldilocks zone of humidity levels inside your home should be between 30 and 50 percent. Lower than 30 percent causes dry air and all associated issues. Higher than 50 percent causes excess moisture in the air, leading to symptoms of high humidity such as growth of mold, bacteria and dust mites – and condensation on your windows.
What is ideal is a relative humidity level between 30-40 percent.
What is relative humidity?
The percentages we have been discussing are all relative humidity levels. Relative humidity is defined as the amount of water vapor in the air compared to the amount of water vapor the air can hold. If you have a reading of 100 percent relative humidity, it indicates that the air is completely saturated with water vapor and cannot hold any more moisture at that temperature.
How to measure humidity in your home?
You can easily measure the humidity in your home using an inexpensive hygrometer. If you have a humidifier with a built-in hygrometer, you could use that, but they are not very accurate due to their proximity to the humidifier itself.
So, you’ve got a hygrometer and measured the humidity in your home, and it’s pretty low. How can you increase the humidity in your home?
How to Increase Humidity in your House Quickly
The quickest way to increase humidity indoors is with the help of an eco-friendly humidifier. A good humidifier can raise the humidity in a room to a comfortable level in about 10 to 15 minutes. For the entire house, depending upon the size of the house and the level of dryness, a humidifier will take from three to 24 hours to increase humidity.
A humidifier is basically a tank filled with water that emits a cool mist or a warm mist, depending on the setting. Small humidifiers work for individual rooms, and there are large humidifiers that can work for the entire house.
Remember to empty and clean your humidifier regularly; it may become a source of mold if allowed to!
How to Raise Humidity in your House Naturally
Want to see how to increase humidity in the house without a humidifier? Try out these very cheap or free methods and habits to increase indoor humidity!
1 // Lower the heat on your thermostat
Central heating can dry out the air rather quickly. You can slow down this process by turning your thermostat down for a while. The US Dept of Energy recommends a toasty 68 degrees F for ideal conditions.
Other ways to increase humidity in the air is to do stuff that releases moisture into the air. These are normal, everyday activities, such as:
2 // Cooking without lids
You’re going to cook anyway, and cooking creates a lot of moisture. Try to cook without covering the pots, and let the steam escape into the ambient air. Turn off your chimney for a few minutes so the moist air is not immediately sucked out. (This will mean using up more energy, but it’s a trade-off depending on what problem you are trying to solve!)
3 // Air-drying freshly washed dishes
Here’s one way to save energy while increasing humidity! After the washing cycle of your dishwasher, open the dishwasher door and let the dishes air-dry. The escaping hot steam from the dishwasher will help humidify the indoor air. Dishwashers anyway use a lot of energy in the drying cycle, so this is a win-win option.
4 // Releasing evaporating water from the bathroom
During dry, winter days, when you’re taking a hot shower, keep your bathroom door open so the steam can spread throughout your apartment. If you’re taking a long, soothing bath, do the same thing: keep the bathroom door open so the evaporating water will humidify the air. Also, once you’re done with your bath, let the bath water sit for a while (don’t drain it). As the warm water cools, more of it will evaporate into the air and increase moisture.
5 // Air-drying your washed laundry inside
Get a clothesline or drying rack inside your home, and let the washed clothes hang there and air-dry. This will increase the humidity (and also save you some money on the electric bill).
Apart from such regular activities, here are some more easy tips that will increase humidity levels inside:
6 // Keep decorative water bowls or fountains
Place water bowls around your home, especially near heat sources. The water will evaporate due to the warmth, and increase humidity in your home.
If this seems a bit silly, or you have dogs or cats to take into consideration, consider having a flower vase filled with water and placed in the sunlight (window sill would be great). Add flowers, of course, and make it as pretty as you want!
Alternatively, you could just splurge on an indoor fountain (bonus: happy cat!).
All these options basically work on the principle of evaporating water adding extra moisture to your indoor air.
7 // Use an essential oil diffuser
While a diffuser isn’t as effective as a humidifier, it can still impact the humidity level with the bonus of refreshing aromatherapy. Large essential oil diffusers work better than smaller ones for this purpose, so unless you already have a large diffuser lying around that you can use as an emergency humidifier, it doesn’t make sense to buy it for humidity purposes. If you want a nice smelling home, though, go ahead.
8 // Bring in houseplants
This is the best tip. Thirsty houseplants are ideal for increasing humidity levels (and also for purifying indoor air). Plants are natural humidifiers that absorb water through the roots and release moisture through the stems and leaves. Choose carefully, though, which plants would work well for you. Spider plants and aloe vera are the most effective for increasing humidity.
9 // Spray water from a bottle
Tough times call for absurd solutions. Or, well, easy solutions. Just like you’d spray your plants’ leaves with water, or the flowers in a pretty bouquet, just do it to your home. Go around your home and spray the air with a fine mist of water. Ignore anyone who’s laughing,
How to Reduce Humidity in your House in Winter
Ok, so now you have the opposite problem. There’s too much humidity, and you feel like you’re sweating inside your home in winter. It happens. But what do you do?
Well, if you’re using a humidifier, adjust the settings so it lowers the ambient humidity. Or, you could open a window or two, and let dry air in from the outside.
You could try or using a dehumidifier, or, if it isn’t cold, you can reduce indoor humidity by using an air conditioner.
Save Energy This Winter
Once you know how to increase humidity levels, you can do the opposite to reduce humidity levels (use your dryer and dishwasher; don’t leave the bathroom doors open while showering; use slightly cooler water for your shower if you can bear it).
Humid air feels warmer than dry air, so you can lower your thermostat when it’s humid, and vice versa. It’s like mini-climate control in your home, done manually. And can help in lowering your electric bill this winter.
Hope you are able to use these tips to have a cozy, comfortable winter ahead.
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