High humidity and hot temperatures make summers in Woodbridge, Virginia, feel sweltering, while low humidity causes a different set of discomforts in winter. Understanding how humidity works will make it easier to manage your desired optimum comfort levels in any season.
How Humidity Occurs
Humidity is the presence of water molecules in the air. High humidity levels are more likely in warm air, because it can hold more water at higher temperatures. If the air in your home is warm, it will also have the capacity to hold a lot of moisture. It’s up to you to determine how much moisture is available to the air. You will increase humidity levels in the home by:
- Cooking in uncovered pots on the stove
- Leaving standing water in a tub or other container
- Running a humidifier
If you avoid performing any of these activities, the humidity levels in your home will likely stay low, even if it’s warm.
Cold air can’t retain as much moisture, so high humidity is less common in chilly weather. It’s unlikely that you’ll struggle with high humidity and cold temperatures inside your home. To get this combination, you typically need a steady drizzle falling outside.
The air won’t retain much of the moisture itself, so it must come from another supply. Inside your house, lowering the temperature is an effective way to minimize humidity to a certain extent, because the air simply can’t hold on to the same level of moisture when it’s cooler.
Humidity in Hot Weather
When you’re in a warm environment, your body produces sweat to stay cool. The moisture evaporating off your skin will make you feel cooler. This is effective if the humidity is low enough, but high humidity can have a damaging effect on this mechanism.
If the air is already saturated with water, the sweat on your skin can’t evaporate. This will leave you feeling sticky and warm, even as the body tries to cool down. High humidity in hot weather will only worsen your discomfort, as the moisture simply sits on your skin unable to evaporate.
Humidity in Cool Weather
In cold weather, high humidity levels will make you feel colder. Clothing keeps your body warm by trapping a small layer of warm air around you. Your own body temperature warms the air, but your cozy sweatshirt is what keeps it close.
If the air is humid, it has a high water content. It’s more difficult to transfer your body heat to water than it is to air. As mentioned previously, the process of moisture evaporating off your skin naturally cools you down. Your body won’t sweat when it’s cold, but humidity from the air can place moisture on your skin and give you the same chilly effect.
If the humidity levels are extremely high, the moisture can saturate your clothing. This leaves chilled water molecules against your skin and makes a cold environment feel even chillier. High humidity and cold weather will leave you feeling colder than if humidity levels were low.
Humidity Considerations in Your Home
It’s important to maintain comfortable humidity levels in your home. If the humidity is too high, you’ll feel hot and sticky. Dust will cling to surfaces more effectively, and hazards like viruses and bacteria will find a more welcoming environment.
If humidity levels are too low, you’ll face a different set of problems. Low humidity contributes to dry and cracked skin, dry and itchy eyes, and uncomfortable sinuses.
Installing a whole-home indoor air quality system is the best way to manage humidity. A humidifier can add moisture to the air if you struggle with symptoms of dry air, while a dehumidifier will have the opposite effect in a persistently humid home. With the right system or combination of systems, you can stay comfortable in any weather.
If you’re looking for an effective way to handle humidity in your home, contact Brennan’s Heating & Air Conditioning at 703-763-0399. We can help you find the indoor air quality solutions that are best for your situation.
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