Reducing Indoor Humidity in the Summer

With summer heat in the Mid-Atlantic region comes humidity. Humidity can be damaging to both health and buildings. If the humidity inside a building is too high, people will feel hot and sticky in warm weather. Reducing indoor humidity is important and can be beneficial for numerous reasons.  In addition, high humidity inside an office can promote the growth of mold and mildew, and can promote structural damage through condensation on walls, ceilings, and other internal structures.

Condensation occurs when warm, humid air encounters a colder surface. The temperature of the air in contact with the cold surface drops suddenly, reducing the amount of moisture the air can hold. You’ve probably seen this effect in action when you pull a soda can out of the refrigerator and water droplets form on the outside. Condensation is more visible on non-insulated, heat-conducting materials such as glass or metal. However, it does occur on all surfaces (wood, drywall, etc), and can become visible in the form of staining or mold growth.

As a rule of thumb, indoor humidity levels should be kept at 30-50%, with the ideal level being 45%. However, most thermostats only regulate interior temperature and not humidity. Tools such as humidistats can be used to measure indoor humidity, allowing you to monitor interior humidity levels.

Humidity can be controlled through a number of different factors. These include:

  • Cross-ventilation via opening windows
  • Remove moisture at its source; e.g. use an exhaust fan in the restroom
  • Bring in moisture-loving plants such as succulents and ferns to collect excess moisture in the air
  • Install proper insulation, thereby reducing the number of cold surfaces that air comes into contact with. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of condensation forming on that surface.
  • Invest in a dehumidifier. These come in one-room and whole-house/whole-office models, and they filter the air and regulate the amount of moisture that’s in your home or office. When filtering, the dehumidifier converts moisture in the air back into a liquid, and stores the water in a tank.
  • Run your air conditioner even if the interior temperature is the same as the outside. Air conditioning units remove heat and moisture from the air through the process of condensation, so air will be dried and cooled at the same time.

These are great tips for trying to beat not only the heat but the humidity. Many of them are simple and quite effective. If you have any questions or need assistance with summer cooling efficiency, contact The Severn Group.