Drying for Comfort; And More
- Paige Freeland, Allen Haybarger, Tom Christensen
With a steamy summer climate soon here, the annual maintenance check on your air conditioning unit is also an ideal time to discuss reducing relative humidity (RH) in your home. As you many know, the air conditioner is not the ideal humidity-reducing solution. A whole house dehumidifier solution is best.
In addition to offering increased comfort, the addition of a whole-house dehumidifier can also help reduce your monthly energy bills. By reducing a home’s indoor moisture while outdoor temperatures are high, you will feel cooler and turn the air conditioner down.
Warmer summer air is able to hold more moisture; indicated by dew point. High summer temperatures combined with a higher dew point reduces the atmosphere’s ability to evaporate perspiration from the skin (necessary for cooling the body), correlating to a higher level of discomfort for your clients.
Although a home’s air conditioning system removes moisture while reducing the temperature, the system stops when the desired temperature is met. Humidity remains high in the cooled space and your humid discomfort relatively unchanged. If one were to run the air conditioning unit until desired humidity levels were reached, it would probably feel like they were living in an igloo instead of a home. Only a system dedicated to moisture removal can solve humidity problems; a whole house dehumidifier.
Any region experiencing a summer dew point average above 55°F could benefit by a whole house dehumidification system at some point. For example, the average RH in Florida during summer months is 89. We normally think of Florida more humid than most states, but even in Michigan the average RH during the summer is 88. Connecticut sees an average RH of 86.
Finding the Right RH
For ideal health and comfort, indoor relative humidity range should be somewhere between 40 to 60 percent. Outside that range (above or below), conditions can be adversely affected.
Leading literature on allergens recommends keeping RH to less than 51 percent to deter dust mites, since they can thrive at temperatures between 59° to 95°F and the RH is between 55 and 85 percent.
Dew point is the atmospheric temperature below which water droplets begin to condense. It varies according to pressure and humidity. The relative humidity is the amount of water vapor present in the air, expressed as a ratio compared to saturation at the same temperature.
The Ideal Combination
From a human comfort perspective, the worst combination of humidity and dew point is a dew point above 65°F combined with a high RH of 70 per cent or more. The most comfortable combination is reported to be a dew point of around 60 and an RH of between 40 to 60 percent.
The Other Reasons
Clearly summer season humidity is not the only reason to install a whole house dehumidifier. Clothes and bedding might feel moist and sticky. Allergy and asthma triggers may intensify because mold and mildew growth has accelerated. The pest population may increase, due to excess moisture that attracts moisture-loving spiders, ants and other pests. Installing a dehumidifier can reduce annoying musty smells, inhibit mold and mildew growth, prevent corrosion of metal and prevent wood from warping. A dehumidifier is also used to control unwanted pest populations and excess moisture in a crawl space. In fact, low humidity can extend the life of bug sprays!
Folks living in humid places like Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Portland, Myrtle Beach, or Charleston may feel humidity year-around and find great relief by installing a whole house unit.
Why Whole House
Room units generally only treat only the space in which they are located, often require emptying, cleaning, and other maintenance that whole house models do not. In addition they take up valuable living space, are not always attractive, and can be noisy. Even if they are in the basement, home owners may not wish to run up and down stairs to empty water bins. Whole house units treat the whole house and often work faster to reach the desired comfort level in the home. With either choice, offering options that work to a home owner means long-term satisfaction.