Although your mind may drift to far-off shores and dense rain forests whenever humidity is mentioned, it’s an ever-present in our atmosphere. Despite being about as natural as things get, humidity in the home can pose problems - both at the high and the low end of the scale - which begs the question, What should humidity levels be in the home?
We’re going to find that out in today’s post, as we explore humidity’s impact on our lives and what causes it to rise and fall inside our properties.
Let’s get started, shall we?
What is humidity?
In the most basic terms, humidity is a measurement of how much water vapour is present in the air.
Humidity is vital to Earth’s ecosystem, as it forms an essential stage in the planet’s overall water cycle. Generated by evaporation and distributed by condensation, humidity naturally occurs as the liquid from water sources vaporises and enters the atmosphere.
Higher air temperatures are capable of holding more moisture than colder climes, hence the reason why we often think of tropical scenes whenever humidity is mentioned. However, with the advent of central heating and improved insulation, we are inadvertently creating our own microclimates indoors, and that can cause multiple issues to our health and the structure of the buildings we inhabit.
What’s the ideal humidity level in a UK home?
The range in which optimal indoor humidity is achieved is, thankfully, quite broad. If you’re getting a reading somewhere between 30 and 60%, you’re in pretty good shape. That being said, it can prove to be tricky to maintain such levels, so constant monitoring is a good idea. This can be done by way of a hygrometer, which can be purchased online for under a tenner.
As one would expect, the changing seasons mean changing humidity levels. The difference, though, is relatively slight. Both winter and summer levels fall within the 30-60% range, with a 10% variation at the appropriate end of the scale:
- Optimal indoor summer humidity levels: 40-60%
- Optimal indoor winter humidity levels: 30-50%
Very high readings are considered to be anything above 70% humidity, while low humidity is anything below 25%. These should be addressed regardless of the time of year.
What causes high humidity in the home?
As we’ve already discovered, humidity is essentially water vapour in the air. It stands to reason, then, that high humidity is an excess of water vapour that is basically trapped inside your home, but where does it come from?
Yep, we’re usually to blame. Just living our modern-day lives creates an enormous amount of moisture. For example, The Institute of Specialist Surveyors and Engineers state that everyday activities generate moisture at the following rates:
- Sleeping: 40g of water per hour, through perspiration and exhalation
- Doing housework: 90g of water per hour, through perspiration and exhalation
- Cooking on a gas cooker: 3,000g per day
- Cooking with an electric cooker: 2,000g per day
- Using a dishwasher: 400g per day
- Washing your clothes: 500g per day
- Drying your clothes inside: 1,500g per day
As you can see, it doesn’t take much for humidity levels in the home to soar, and you need to find a way to get rid of it. Take a look at our guide to stopping condensation for some top tips to keep your indoor moisture levels in check.
It’s also worth pointing out that something altogether more sinister could be at the heart of your high humidity problem: a leaking pipe. Keeping an eye on your home’s humidity levels can be an early warning system for larger issues.
What causes low humidity in the home?
The other end of the humidity scale is usually a rarer occurrence, but it can happen. Common causes are excessive use of air conditioning systems and/or dehumidifiers, but it can also come about when we overheat our properties when the mercury drops outside.
Heating removes some of the air’s moisture and as the cold air from outdoors is already carrying very little water vapour, low indoor humidity can occur pretty quickly.
Three signs your indoor humidity levels are either too high or too low
As we’ve already mentioned, buying a hygrometer will take all of the guesswork out of things, but there are a few telltale signs that your indoor humidity levels may be suboptimal. These are:
- Respiratory issues - If you’re having difficulty breathing or find that you often have a tight chest, humidity could be the root cause.
- Poor sleep - Humidity levels that are either too high or too low will affect how you sleep. Dry air will irritate your throat, while high humidity will cause the body to work harder while you rest.
- Poor body temperature regulation - If you’re always too hot or too cold, you may find that your indoor humidity levels need adjusting as much as your heating.
How to manage humidity all year round
The biggest tip is...ventilate. Circulating the air inside our properties is absolutely vital if you want to keep condensation at bay and maintain healthy humidity levels inside your home all year round, so throw open those windows. Yep, even in winter.
All that’s required is 10-15 minutes of fresh air from several open windows, so you get a ‘through-draft’, and you’re done. This will remove a lot of the trapped moisture and allow you to let other nasties, such as Volatile Organic Compounds (or VOCs, for short), to escape as well.
Looking to buy or rent in Wanstead or the surrounding areas but don’t know who to turn to for advice? Come to Petty’s! We have over a century of experience in E11 and beyond, so no other agent knows the local area quite like we do. Give us a call to find out more.