Now you have probably heard about humidity, and maybe even know that having the right humidity level in your home is very important, but what is humidity? Why and how does it happen? How come some days appear hotter and some colder than the temperature would suggest? How do we measure humidity? What is high humidity? How can you control humidity and keep your home healthy and comfortable?
In this article, we will offer answers to all those questions. Although you might have some basic knowledge of humidity, learning more will benefit your health and quality of life. In the sections below, you will find the most important information about humidity, and what impact it can have on your everyday life.
What Is Humidity
Although we can’t see it, in almost all weather conditions, some amount of water vaporizes and liquefies, completing the cycle. After the water vaporizes, it rises and spreads into the air as water vapor.
Simply put, humidity represents the amount of water condensation in the atmosphere. Bigger masses of water evaporating in a particular area mean more water mist into the air, which further implies greater levels of humidity for that area. Areas with higher temperatures usually hold more humidity compared to the colder ones, since heat makes water evaporate quicker.
What Causes Humidity
Now that we know what humidity is, let’s focus on why and how it happens. As you know, water in liquid form is great! It’s necessary for plants, animals, humans, and all other life forms. On the other hand, evaporated water doesn’t do anything besides making you sweat more. Or does it?!
As crazy as it might seem, the presence of water in the atmosphere has an extremely important role on planet Earth. It’s function is so essential that no life could exist without it.
We mentioned the water cycle before. It’s nature’s way of transporting water to places and beings. The process of evaporating water from liquid to water vapor represents one-third of the water cycle. Without this process, there would be no clouds, and even worse – there would never be rain!
How to Measure Humidity
Different uses require specific ways to calculate humidity. There are a few different ones, both in absolute and relative terms.
Simply said, absolute humidity is the amount of evaporated water present in a particular area, no matter the temperature. Scientifically speaking, absolute humidity is the most precise calculation of humidity, because the total mass of water condensation in the air makes a direct impact on humidity. Absolute humidity is measured in grams of moisture per cubic meter of air. However, this probably doesn’t really tell you how warm the air feels unless you’re a weather expert. Now, this is a spot where other measurements such as relative humidity and the dew point can be useful.
What Is Dew Point?
Specific air temperatures determine how much water vapor needs to be present in the air in order for it to condensate. The condensation process requires vapor to condensate in less time than it needs to evaporate.
The temperature at which water can condense and evaporate equally fast is called the dew point. In case it matches the air temperature, it means that the air is exactly as humid as it can be before it precipitates. For condensation to form, the air temperature needs to be below the dew point. When the air is warmer than the dew point, the water will evaporate in a shorter time so the condensation process won’t happen.
What Is Relative Humidity?
Now that we know what the dew point is, we can move on and talk about relative humidity. To calculate relative humidity, the dew point is also needed.
The relative humidity is the amount of water vapor saturation divided by maximum saturation and then multiplied by 100 to get the percentage. Simply said, relative humidity lets us know how close the air temperature is to the dew point. Having the relative humidity at 100% implies the air temperature has come to the dew point.
The relative humidity got its name because it doesn’t exactly calculate the amount of water vapor present in the air. On the contrary, it determines how much water vapor is there compared to the maximal amount of water vapor that the same amount of air can hold. The bigger the dew point the more humid will the air feel.
What is High Humidity
Both outdoors and indoors levels of humidity largely impact your comfort and health. Too high humidity levels can imply mold and allergy issues. Too low humidity levels, on the other hand, cause dry skin and lips, and annoying static electricity. This being said it’s clear that the optimal humidity level makes the open air feel fresh, while the indoor air feels comfortable.
Different times of the year mean different humidity levels. Air is usually more humid during summer than it is in winter since higher temperatures cause more water to evaporate. Keeping the relative humidity below 50% is optimal in general terms, but achieving the ideal humidity level depends highly on the outside temperature.
Humidity is considered high when relative humidity sits above 60%. High humidity levels can cause numerous health issues since high humidity enhances the growth of bacteria, mold, viruses, and fungi, which are all factors of unhealthy air quality. These microorganisms can be very dangerous and lead to severe health problems, especially for people with asthma or allergies. High humidity is also destructive for your home since it can cause your wall paint to peel, your floors to warp and deform, and even cause serious structural problems to your house.
Ideally, during summer, you want to keep relative humidity somewhere between 30% and 45%. The optimal humidity levels will help you cut down the electricity bills since you won’t need to use the air-conditioner as much.
What is Optimal Humidity
Before saying more about what is considered high humidity, we need to make sure we know what humidity levels are optimal, based on the outdoor temperature. Here’s a brief list of outdoor temperatures and what humidity levels fit them the best:
- Over 50°F: indoor humidity levels should be below 50%
- Over 20°F: indoor humidity levels should be below 40%
- From 10°F to 20°F: indoor humidity levels should be below 35%
- From 0°F to 10°F: indoor humidity levels should be below 30%
- From -10°F to 0°F: indoor humidity levels should be below 25%
- From -20°F to -10°F: indoor humidity levels should be below 20%
- AT -20°F and lower: indoor humidity levels should be below 15%
Keep in mind that all percentages bigger than these levels are considered high humidity.
How To Regulate Humidity Levels
Now that we know what humidity is, and what humidity is high, we can focus on resolving the issue. The simplest way of handling the high levels of humidity is to use a dehumidifier. These devices aren’t that expensive anymore, so purchasing a small portable one can be a great choice during summertime.
Using a dehumidifier will allow you to keep the humidity level under 50%, but always remember to make sure that the drainage is not interrupted. In the best-case scenario, the indoor humidity level should sit between 40 and 50% during the summer.
Some portable dehumidifiers don’t drain constantly, so you might have to empty the water bucket manually when full, or else the device will turn off automatically. Also, some portable dehumidifiers won’t allow you to accurately control the humidity levels. Even so, a portable dehumidifier will help you keep the indoor air more comfortable, and let you use your air conditioner way less. To learn more about dehumidifiers, make sure you check out our article about them.
This concludes our post on what is high humidity. We hope you like the article and find it helpful. If you still have questions that need to be answered, feel free to post a comment below, and we’ll get back to you in no time.