Published August 2, 2019
The summer’s high humidity levels can affect not only the way you feel but also the condition of your home, and could potentially increase your energy bills.
High humidity can increase moisture in your home, especially when dealing with unintended leaks that allow moisture or water vapor to move in and out of homes. This can lead to costly repairs over time, as high humidity levels can deteriorate flooring and furniture and exacerbate cracks, leading to mold growth and allowing drafts to enter your home. High humidity also makes us feel warmer in the summer (and colder in the winter), causing us to cool (or heat) our homes more than we tend to do in drier conditions.
Maintaining appropriate humidity levels can prevent damage and eliminate the possibility of hazards that may go unnoticed. Indoor relative humidity should be below 60 percent and ideally between 30 and 50 percent. You can use a humidity gauge to measure humidity levels.
Below are some tips to keep your moisture levels down:
- Seal any cracks or holes. Air movement accounts for more than 98% of water vapor movement. Cracks or holes can allow air movement through unintended paths in and out of a house, potentially increasing the amount of moisture entering the home. Sealing any cracks can help reduce air movement and control ventilation.
- Improve your drainage system. This includes extending downspouts from gutters away from the foundation of your home, ensuring gutters and downspouts are clean, and keeping soil sloping away from the foundation.
- Increase appropriate ventilation. Run exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen, especially during and after cooking or taking a shower, to remove excess humidity. If you have central air conditioning (A/C), make sure you are replacing furnace filters regularly. Clogged filters will make the A/C have to work harder and use more energy to cool your home. Clean filters allow your air conditioner to remove moisture more easily and use less energy in the process.
- Take colder and shorter showers. Consider buying a low-flow shower head or showering under a less powerful stream to maximize water efficiency and reduce the amount of water vapor produced.
- Consider an energy-efficient dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers can help reduce and maintain levels of humidity, especially for homes without air conditioning. You can by a portable or a whole-home dehumidifier depending on your home and your budget. If you can, aim to buy a dehumidifier that is ENERGY STAR-certified, as they use 30% less energy than conventional dehumidifiers.
Sometimes, moisture is a bigger problem that requires a more involved solution, with professional support to diagnose the problem and offer solutions. Here are some examples of bigger investments that may be required to get at the heart of a moisture problem.
- Insulation. Insulation can help reduce heat transfer and flow. Consult a qualified builder and/or contractor for specific moisture control measures that are tailored to your home’s construction style and type of insulation and the local climate here in Minnesota.
- Replace your carpet. Carpets can retain moisture, increase the amount of moisture in your home, and hide mold. If moisture is continually a problem, you may want to replace your carpet with another type of floor covering.
High humidity can affect not only your personal comfort but also the safety of your home. Appropriate measures that fit your budget can help you stay comfortable and healthy during these super humid summer days.