Your skin and respiratory system are usually the first to alert you that low humidity comes with the cooler temperatures of fall. As temperatures fall, the air is less capable of holding moisture, and turning on the furnace dries it out even more.
As good as cooler weather feels, the lower humidity can have a damaging effect on your body, including:
- Winter itch
- Cracked or chapped skin
- Irritated nasal and respiratory passages
- Nose bleeds
- Faster transmission of viruses and bacteria
The skin infections caused by chapped or cracked skin and greater susceptibility to infectious diseases are reasons enough to increase indoor humidity. When the air dries out, the protective outer coating of cold and flu viruses dries and by the time they reach your tissues, they’re more likely to cause infections.
Ideal Indoor Humidity Levels
The ideal levels lie between 30 and 50 percent for indoor environments. If you’re not sure if your home has low humidity, consider buying an inexpensive humidity meter found at home improvement centers.
If it’s on the low side, you may be able to increase it naturally by not running the kitchen and exhaust fans as you cook or bathe. If that doesn’t help, you may need to use portable humidifiers to prevent the discomfort that comes along with overly dry air.
Portable steamers and humidifiers improve humidity levels in small spaces, but if your home is large, you may want to consider a whole-house humidifier. It attaches to the air handler and sends water vapor through the ductwork.
A humidistat, similar to a thermostat, controls the humidity level indoors and central humidifiers fill automatically. They need cleaning once a season, unlike portable units that should be descaled and disinfected weekly. Central units are quiet and pose no tripping hazards, unlike portable devices that use electric cords.
The low humidity that comes with cooler weather can cause physical distress and harm to your body. For more information about keeping the humidity level healthy in your home, contact Beyer Boys, providing HVAC services for San Antonio homeowners.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Antonio, Texas area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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