Managing your home’s Humidity

Posted by on Jan 5, 2024 in General, home improvement, Safety, Seasonal | 0 comments

The level of humidity in your home will affect your health as well as the health of your home.  If you have asthma, allergies or have had respiratory infections, humidity that has been very high or very low is a contributing factor.  These factors will also have an impact on the condition of your home. Humans are most comfortable and healthiest in an environment where the humidity is maintained at a level around 40% (Every home should have a hygrometer). When levels drop below 20% humidity, it means the air is very dry.  There is an increased level of dust and allergens in the air, our skin becomes dry and you begin to get a lot of static in the air.  Dragging your feet on the carpet is sure to give someone a shock.  This is also hard on your home.  Wood starts to dry out, hardwood floors creek and wood in expensive cabinets and furniture starts to shrink. When levels climb above 60% humidity, it means the air is very damp.  Humidity above 60% is ideal for the growth of mold which will start to grow within 48 hours.  Mold will irritate health concerns such as asthma, allergies and respiratory infections.  Mold will also deteriorate wood and over time weaken the structure of a home. In today’s modern home a lot has been done to improve insulation and energy efficiency.  High efficiency furnaces, hot water heaters and fireplaces combined with new windows and doors built to seal up a house, means very little fresh air gets in.  During the winter (and summer if you have central air conditioning), you trap the air inside the home.  In our daily activities, bathing, cooking and even breathing you introduce humidity into your home.  Consider how much humidity you introduce into your home during that big family Christmas dinner. If you notice your homes humidity above 50% (remember every home should have a hygrometer) it is time to take action!  Newer homes have a built in whole house ventilation system.  In this case turning it on will remove some of that humidity.  If you don’t have that luxury, running your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans will help remove the stale damp air.  Both of these solutions work very well in the cooler winter months.   During a damp summer the outside air can be even more humid than the inside air.  Ventilation alone may not help, consider getting a dehumidifier for the house.  A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air eliminating the possibility of mold growing in your home. When you notice the humidity is below 30% it is time to take action.  Most homes are built with a central humidifier on the furnace.  If you have one make sure it is clean and functioning properly.  This however, is not my favorite way to add humidity to a home (see my blog on humidifiers for more information).  Run portable humidifiers, in most cases one console unit is enough but smaller units can be used to humidify isolated areas.  You can also run those bathroom fans for a shorter period of time after a bath or shower.  In this case putting moisture back into the air is good for your health and your home. Winter creates another challenge with humidity.  When temperatures become very cold (in Alberta it is not uncommon to have temperatures below -30c) to much humidity in these conditions can create moisture problems which includes condensation and frost on your windows, condensation and mold on your exterior walls and frost build up in your attic.  When you hear extreme cold weather is on its way turn your humidity settings down.  20% or lower may...

Read More

10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home

Posted by on Oct 22, 2010 in General, home improvement | 0 comments

Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, we want to change that. Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons: It saves money. It costs less to power a home that has been converted to be more energy-efficient. It increases indoor comfort levels. It reduces our impact on climate change. Many scientists now believe that excessive energy consumption contributes significantly to global warming. It reduces pollution. Conventional power production introduces pollutants that find their way into the air, soil and water supplies. 1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house.  As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems: Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners, which require a large amount of energy. Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters. Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Specifically, they should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70°F (25° C to 21°C), for example, saves about 10% on heating costs. Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs. Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces. At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room. 2. Install a tankless water heater. Demand water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don’t produce the standby energy losses associated with storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Demand water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. Therefore, they avoid the standby heat losses required by traditional storage water heaters. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water. 3. Replace incandescent lights. The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), can reduce energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs: CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy. LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury. 4. Seal and insulate your home. Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and...

Read More