Finding the Perfect Relative Humidity in Cold Temperatures

Most experts agree that the ideal relative humidity for proper health and comfort during the cold winter months is somewhere between 40-50%. Some believe the range is closer to 40-60% depending on your climate. However, once humidity levels raise to the higher end of the spectrum, you may battle issues with too much moisture in the home. Keep these tips in mind and you will stay comfortable (and so will your home!).

Shocks and Ice
Here in Arkansas, as we head into the coldest months of the year–traditionally January and February–you may notice more static electricity in your home. If you find yourself getting shocked (or shocking those you live with), the air in your home is too dry. Adding a small humidifier to your living spaces generally adds enough moisture to the air to resolve this issue.

However, on the coldest days, check your windows. If you find condensation or ice forming, it is a good indicator that it is time to dial back the humidifier. Too much humidity in the air doesn’t hurt anything, but over time, moisture will accumulate in the walls or attic spaces. Too much moisture can cause these materials to deteriorate and rot.

Stopping the Cold Air Assault
Older homes especially develop air leaks. You will find drafts blowing through and around window jambs and frames, door ways and ventilation spaces. Before the really cold weather hits, be sure to inspect your living space. Caulk any windows or openings where air flows freely. Install weather stripping around doorways to reduce the flow of cold, dry air into the home.

Invest in New Windows
Over the years, it is worth your time to plan and invest in high-quality windows. These will be sealed and provide UV protection which will help you save money in both the summer and the winter. Double-paned windows help avoid condensation during the very coldest weeks of month.

Final Rule of Thumb
The final tip for maintaining comfort in the cold temperatures is that the colder the temperatures drop the lower your humidity should be. For example, if the temps dip under 40 degrees Fahrenheit, make sure the humidity in your home hovers at 40% or below.

Following these tips and keeping an eye on the humidity will help your home stay warmer and more comfortable during the ruthless dry and cold days of winter.