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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

indoor humidity

Temperature is the conditioning factor that we most often think about with indoor air comfort and quality, as well as those nasties that you air filter removes. However, indoor air humidity is one of the unseen forces that make our home comfortable. Humidity also affects the wood in your home, it can cause shrinking and cracking of floors and furniture.

Humidity, especially in the South, is an important element in our air. In the summer the humidity can make it oppressively hot and sticky. In the winter our skin and other systems, so used to the humidity, can revolt when the indoor humidity drops below 30%. According to ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55-1995 Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy, the optimal humidity for the indoors is a range between 30% and 60%. ( ANSI/ ASHRAE stands for American National Standards Institute and American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air/Conditioning Engineers.) You will need a hygrometer to measure your humidity, but a zap from the door knob will let you know there is a problem. Many digital thermometers also measure the humidity.

So, how do we achieve a humidity level in the optimal range? A common suggestion is to leave to bowls of water sitting around the house, which is the slow boat method. And, your pets might be drinking the water instead of letting it evaporate. I prefer a less passive methods, check out my list below!

Top 7 ways to increase humidity in your home
** denotes Eco-friendly ideas

1. Use a humidifier. Place it in the room you are occupying and near the heat vent. The vent will aid in distribution.
2. **Hang your clothes to dry indoors. Purchase a rack or two to hang sheets, towels, or all you clothes to dry. Not only will this add humidity, it will save on you energy bill.
3. Misting. This only might seem a bit odd, but I like to mist my face, I have very dry skin, with a hydrosol or rose water. It's very hydrating and smells nice.
4.**Steaming, instead of ironing, is a great way to remove wrinkles in your clothing, increase you air quality, and save on energy. Irons eat electricity!
5. **Winterize your home. Make sure windows and doors are not bring in cold dry air.
6. Make soup and hot teas. Not only does this nourish your body and soul, stave off a cold and stock the freezer, but boiling liquid adds steam to the air.
7. ** Add plants. Plants are the lungs of the earth as we all know, but they can also be the lungs of the home, taking in carbon dioxide and giving back oxygen and humidity.

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