Maintaining the proper humidity level in your home is more important than you think. Indoor air should be fresh, clean and normally have a humidity level between 35-45%. After all, we spend over 90% of our time inside. It might be more like 99% this time of year.
If humidity levels in your home are too high it results in an increase in airborne pollutants like mold, bacteria, fungi and dust mites. If the level is too low, most likely the case here in Calgary, it can cause respiratory issues, nosebleeds, skin irritation and damaging static electricity. It’s not just your health that is effected, but all of the belongings in your home including furniture, clothing, windows and doors also feel the impact of humidity.
The Right Level of Humidity and How To Get It
Calgary has one of the lowest average relative humidity levels in all of Canada. It is one of the things I find tough about living in this city having moved from a coastal climate. Calgary’s relative humidity consistently falls below 50% while cities like Vancouver have average levels of 75% or higher. This explains why Calgarians apply gallons of moisturizer, experience far more breathing issues and suffer from serious skin conditions each winter season when humidity levels plunge even lower.
While humidity levels outside obviously impact what is going on in our home, advances in HVAC systems allow us the luxury of creating our own little eco system inside. This is a little more challenging with older homes as they are not as energy efficient and it is far more difficult to prevent unwanted outside air from entering the home. It can still be done though. Whole home humidifiers have come along way and make a significant impact on the humidity level in a home. Choosing the right type and size is incredibly important. Believe it or not, you can actually over humidify your home – even here in Calgary, I made this mistake after moving into our new, energy efficient home with a brand new steam humidifier. Warped hardwood flooring and window frames were the result! Consult with a quality HVAC pro before installing a humidifier in your home to ensure you have the correct one.
Balancing Cold Temperatures and Humidity
Here in Calgary we have the added pain of dealing with huge temperature variations. These fluctuations present challenges when setting humidity levels in our homes. Relative humidity of the outside air decreases dramatically as the temperatures decrease, and we must also lower our indoor humidity settings to follow.
If you forget to adjust your humidifier setting, you will be reminded by the obvious build up of condensation and ice on the inside of your windows and doors. If this is the case, there will be also be unseen moisture gathering in places like the walls and attic. If you ignore this issue, you may very likely experience damage like cracked window casings, warping window frames, and over time rotting building materials. Some HVAC systems read outside temperature, and humidifier settings automatically adjust, but many require homeowners to make the change themselves and they should.
Guidelines for Humidity Levels
Outside Temperature Indoor Humidity Setting
|-30 or lower||15%|
|-30 to -24||15% to 20%|
|-24 to -18||20% to 25%|
|-18 to -12||25% to -30%|
|-12 to -6||30% to 35%|
|-6 to 0||35% to 40%|
This is easy and kind of fun to do as you can watch what happens to humidity when our outside temperatures plunge from -5C to -30C. A hygrometer, which measure humidity, is available at Home Depot and is very inexpensive. Some of the indoor thermometers have a hygrometer included. Pick one up next time you are there.
Looking for an experienced HVAC professional to spec and install the right humidifier for your home? Check out Who To Call or just call us – we will point you in the right direction.