What is it?

In simple terms, humidity can be defined as the amount of water vapor in the air. The air can hold a certain amount of water vapor at a given temperature and pressure without causing condensation. This is known as saturation. Humidity is the ratio of the air’s current amount of water vapor to its maximum amount, or saturation level.

Humidity is directly affected by temperature and air pressure. If the temperature rises, there is more air evaporation, which results in a decrease in humidity. When the temperature drops, humidity increases, resulting in wetter air. Humidity changes are also linked to changes in pressure – a higher pressure will result in a higher humidity level or wetter air.

Why do we need to monitor it?

There are two important reasons why humidity is important: optimal levels keep us comfortable and healthy, as well as preserve the quality of our products, equipment, and homes. When humidity levels aren’t right, indoor air quality is poor, leading to discomfort and health problems. Too low or too high humidity levels may cause the following problems:

Indoor Environment Issues Caused by Poor humidity levels:

    • Mold growth
    • Warping, Cracking, Bubbling Paint on Walls
    • Musty Smells
    • Shrinking doors and window frames
    • Faulty Electronic Equipment

Health Issues Caused by Poor Humidity Levels:

    • Skin, eye and nose irritations
    • Respiratory problems, aggravation of asthma and allergies
    • Fatigue and Difficulty in breathing
    • Dry eyes and hair, chapped lips
    • Susceptibility to harmful pathogens in the air such as viruses and bacteria

The optimal humidity range is dependent on many factors such as geography and climate as well as individual preference and levels of physical activity. ASHRAE and US EPA suggest maintaining humidity at 30-50% for health and thermal comfort.

What are the benefits of regulating relative humidity?

Improve Indoor Air Quality

Poor humidity levels in your home can cause muggy conditions and even disrupt your daily activities and sleeping patterns. High moisture levels can encourage mold growth. Mold can trigger asthma attacks as well as cause irritations of the eyes, nose, and throat. Those suffering from other respiratory disorders or allergies may also experience aggravated symptoms if indoor moisture is excessive. We can improve indoor air quality by controlling humidity and maintaining it in accordance with established standards. A healthier indoor environment reduces the spread of harmful viruses and improves quality of life.

Prevent the spread of diseases

Many bacteria and viruses easily transmit through low humidity, making contagious diseases even more dangerous (Normando et al., 2020). Studies have shown that in dry conditions, water droplets that are potential carriers of viruses decrease in size and flow freely in the air because of being less dense. However, in humid conditions with high humidity, the droplets not only increase in size quickly but also fall quickly, hence reducing their chances of being inhaled. So, airborne diseases such as influenza and COVID-19 are likely to spread more in dry and cold environments. (Normando et al., 2020). Managing humidity levels along with temperature and pressure minimizes the risk of virus survival and transmission in the air.

Preserve your Home

Poor humidity levels can cause costly, if not irreparable damage to your home’s building structure. Too much humidity can cause condensation on windows, wet stains on walls and ceilings, moldy bathrooms, a lingering musty odor in rooms among others. A house that experiences prolonged periods of high humidity is also susceptible to moisture-induced rot and structural damage.

What can be done to regulate humidity?

Remove moisture at the source

Some possible sources of moisture could be the kitchen, water leakages, damp ground, and gas heaters. Using a range hood in the kitchen and exhaust fans at such locations can help in controlling humidity. Air conditioners can also help in reducing excess moisture.

Use humidifiers in colder seasons, dehumidifiers in hotter seasons

It’s a good idea to have a plan to deal with humidity with the changing seasons. In the winter, low humidity becomes the primary problem in many homes as cold air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air. You can add moisture to the air with the use of a humidifier. With the hot, humid months of summer, you may consider installing a dehumidifier to work with your air conditioning system to pull excess water from the air.

A wide variety of humidity-controlling products are available on the market. It is best to consult an HVAC professional to get advice on what system is best suited to your home.

Allow cross ventilation

Cross ventilation by opening windows and allowing fresh air to pass through is also an effective way to manage humidity. The air containing high moisture content mixes with the outside atmosphere, normalizing the air quality.

How does uHoo help in regulating your humidity?

uHoo provides accurate real-time readings of humidity in your home. In case of any deviations from the ideal range, you can get an instant notification to take the necessary measures. Moreover, it can integrate with systems responsible for regulating this parameter, such as your heating and cooling equipment and exhaust fans. The humidity levels are measured and monitored, and the data is relayed to you in an easy-to-understand layout on the uHoo mobile app.

uHoo can help you manage and take control of your indoor air quality:

    • Measure and monitor all the important air quality parameters so you can create a healthier and safer home.
    • Provide a real-time risk assessment of virus survival and transmission in the air with the uHoo Virus Index
    • Easily integrate with your heating, ventilation, and air cooling systems to manage your IAQ

References

M.M. Derby, M. Hamehkasi, S. Eckels, G.M. Hwang, B. Jones, R. Maghirang, D. Shulan. (2016). Update of the scientific evidence for specifying lower limit relative humidity levels for comfort, health, and indoor environmental quality in occupied spaces (RP-1630). Sci. Technol. Built Environ, pp 30-45.

Normando, D., Mecenas, P., Moreira Bastos, R. T. d. R., & Rosário Vallinoto, A. C. (2020, September 18). Effects of temperature and humidity on the spread of COVID-19: A systematic review. Plos One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238339

Quest Climate. (2019). Relative Humidity Defined by the Experts. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.questclimate.com/what-is-relative-humidity-and-why-does-it-matter/

Wargocki, P. (2013). Productivity and Health Effects of High Indoor Air Quality. In Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. :10.1016/B978-0-12-409548-9.01993-X

World Health Organization. (2009). WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould.