Temperature and Humidity and Your Comfort

Lots of rain this year. I don’t believe I’ve had a piece of dry grass in my yard all summer. On top of that we’ve had quite a few days when the outdoor temperature has been well into the 80’s. Let’s just say it’s been a Hot and Humid summer so far. Maintaining a correct level of temperature and humidity in your home or business is essential to providing you with a “Comfortable Space”. In addition one needs to maintain a proper indoor Temperature and Relative Humidity (TRH) level so as to reduce the effects of unwanted conditions associated with poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).
What is a comfortable TRH level in the summer and why is proper humidity control essential? A summer indoor air temperature of 75F is recommended and keeping in mind that 0% is no moisture in the air and 100% is lots of moisture in the air, people tend to feel most comfortable in the area of 45% to 50% Relative Humidity. At the same indoor air temperature, too much humidity reduces comfort and at very high humidity levels can cause an increase in biological pollutants, like mold, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and dust mites that can trigger respiratory health ailments.
So how do I know what the TRH level is in my Home or Business? I found a good digital temperature/humidity gage at Lowes made by Acutite (see picture). It was less then $10.00 (9 volt battery not included) and also shows the range of each which is updated periodically. I tested these by setting up six in a row and found them to read within a degree of each other – so – I deem them to be quite accurate for a gage in that price range.
If you have an Air Conditioning (AC) System in your Home it will provide some dehumidification as it cools; in fact, most of the newer Central AC Systems have humidistat’s built into the wall thermostat and will work to maintain the humidity level you specify. That said, you need to keep in mind that AC Systems are designed to hold a set temperature and will not necessarily hold a set humidity. A good example of this is your basement which is usually cool with a high level of humidity. The basement is already cool – so – an AC system can’t help. You will need a Dehumidifier. It’s job is to hold the humidity you specify. Mold can easily grow in a high humidity basement so the use of a dehumidifier is essential. If you dehumidify your basement it will help reduce the humidity in your house.
You can choose a Central or Room Dehumidifier with included humidistat. Both are readily available with a Room Humidifier being the most popular primarily due to cost and minor installation required. Most all use the same electrical / mechanical principle and are relatively economical to operate. Very little maintenance is required. Be sure to size the unit to the square footage of the area you want to dehumidify Standard units remove moisture from an area efficiently when that area is at a temperature of 65F degrees or higher. If the area you want to dehumidify is colder then 65F a low temperature unit should be considered.
Temperature and Humidity Control is an essential part of Good Indoor Air Quality. If you don’t currently have it in your Home or Business consider including Humidity Control in your budget for 2017/2018.
Curt Bierly is president of the bierly group incorporated of which Stanley C. Bierly is a division. He is chair of the Penn College HVAC Advisory Board. You can contact him at his business in Millheim (814-349-3000, cbierly@bierlygroup.com).