It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity

Indoor comfort is a complicated matter. There are many factors in play that can affect comfort and most of them are invisible to our most relied upon senses.  Comfort is also a subjective feeling and we can all experience comfort in our own unique ways.

Today I want to discuss how the humidity levels in your home can affect your overall experience of comfort and discuss how to manage the humidity in our homes.

First, here’s an important concept that is rarely discussed or explained when dealing with home comfort:

The amount of humidity in the air affects how our bodies react to the air as well as how the air is able to hold heat.

This is an important concept that is not commonly understood by the occupants or even the technicians that work on comfort equipment.  Too often we are focused on the temperature – a number on a digital screen (or on our smartphone) that may or may not represent the actual level of comfort in our homes.

Let’s look at the first part of my statement above.  How does the humidity level affect how our bodies react to the air?  What does this mean?  Our bodies are in a constant state of thermoregulation which means that we are naturally trying to maintain our core temperature at an optimum level.  The most commonly understood role of humidity in the air deals with sweating – when we are overheating we sweat and our sweat evaporates to cool us down.  If the air is too humid then our sweat can’t evaporate, and we will be uncomfortable – this is why a humid room feels “stuffy”.  The same works in reverse – if the air is too dry then any sweat that is on our skin evaporates too easily and has the opposite effect in that the room feels “draughty”.

Let’s put this together and look at our thermostat at 21 degrees again, this time adding humidity to the number.  A dry 21 degrees can feel cold and a humid 21 degrees can feel too warm.  Note that I am saying “can feel” here, as everyone experiences comfort differently, but building science tells us that an indoor humidity level of around 40% feels comfortable, for most people.

So now what do we do about this?  We have to look at managing humidity which means ensuring we don’t have too much or too little humidity in the air.

A properly designed, installed and maintained system can do all of this – and this is what professional HVAC companies do. They install and maintain a wide range of humidifiers and ventilation products to keep you comfortable and healthy. Contact HVAC companies in Calgary if you are looking for humidifier installation in Calgary.


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