High humidity in summer is extremely uncomfortable. The more humid it is, the harder it is for the body to transfer heat to the air.
Unfortunately, San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area are among the top 10 cities in the United States where the average humidity is above 72.5%. According to the World Data Center for Meteorology, the average humidity for the San Francisco area is around 74%.
If you live in any of the most humid areas in the United States, it’s important understand the dangers of humidity and what to do about it.
“Feels Like” Really Hot
It’s because of humidity that we get “feel like” temperatures instead of the actual temperature. As relative humidity increases, the air feels warmer than it actually is because sweat doesn’t evaporate as fast, which is the primary way we regulate temperature.
If there is less humidity in the air, sweat can evaporate faster, thus cooling the body. Click here for a chart that shows the relationship between air temperature and relative humidity.
Your indoor humidity is affected by many things, including outdoor humidity levels, indoor humidity sources (bathroom, kitchen, etc.), ventilation, and more.
Air Conditioning and Dehumidification
Simply running your air conditioner will lower your humidity naturally; when warm air hits your cold evaporator coils, liquid condensate drips down to the pan below and gets transferred outside via the condensate drain line. An air conditioner is very similar to a humidifier.
In fact, Willis Carrier originally invented the air conditioner to solve a humidity problem for the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in New York. While temperature control had been around, there was no existing method for controlling the humidity. Learn more about the history of the air conditioner.
Most people put the comfortable humidity level somewhere between 30% and 60%. We like to think of the ideal indoor humidity level as somewhere between 35% and 50%. Your ideal indoor humidity level, however, will depend on your preferences. Just make sure you don’t go below 30% or above 60%.
High Humidity Problems
In addition to making you feel warmer, humid conditions cause a lot of other problems around the home, including mold, mildew, and property damage.
- Fatigue, headache, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke
- Poor sleep
- Pest and insect risks
- Higher blood pressure
- Mold, mildew, and moisture
- Worse allergies and asthma
- Dust mites
- Peeling paint and wallpaper
- Damaged electronics
- Sticky doors and windows
- Wilting and smelly plants
- Respiratory issues
Even though an air conditioner naturally cools the air through its refrigeration cycle, you may be in need of extra dehumidification power.
- A humidifier adds moisture to the air, normally used during dry, winter weather.
- A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air.
- A whole-home humidification system (aka central humidification) does both. Using a built-in humidity detector (hygrometer), the humidification system removes and adds moisture as need.
Some air conditioners come with the option to increase moisture removal, however, if you want true humidity control, a central humidification system is what you need. They are installed into your system to humidify and dehumidify your home uniformly.
Types of Dehumidifiers Available
A dehumidifier reduces and regulates the humidity in the air. They can be used for single rooms and apartments or large commercial areas, such as swimming pools and storage warehouses. The type of dehumidifier you choose will depend on your budget, home, and preferences.
Although we highly recommend a whole-home humidification system to maintain ideal indoor humidity levels, there are a number of choices available to you.
Dehumidifiers can usually be grouped into one of four types:
- Heat Pump Dehumidifier – These dehumidifiers need a fan, heat pump, and heat exchange coils to remove moisture from the air. Using a fan, air gets sent past the heat exchange coils, which are extremely cold. Moisture then condenses and collects. Prices range from around $150 to over $1,500.
- Dehumidifying Ventilator – Similar to how it sounds, this humidifier works by using an exhaust fan to expel air outside. It uses a sensor and exhaust fan and is most often used in basements, attics, and crawlspaces.
- Chemical Absorbent Dehumidifier – Also known as desiccant dehumidifiers, they consist of hydrophilic materials, such as silica gel. Many residential units contain single-use desiccant-type cartridges, gel, and powder.
- Homemade Dehumidifier – If you’re the MacGyver type, there are many ways to build your own dehumidifier. While we don’t recommend it as a permanent solution, it might help in the short term. Homemade dehumidifiers can be made out of charcoal, road salt, or a special kind of de-icing salt. Learn natural ways to lower the humidity in your home.
Some dehumidifiers come with filtration in order to convert condensate into potable drinking water.
One significant disadvantage of using a portable dehumidifier, no matter the size, is that you will have to empty the full bucket of water constantly. When the bucket reaches a certain level, the unit will turn off. There are, however some dehumidifiers that can connect to a drain hose to dispense the water outdoors.
Learn more about how dehumidifiers work.
If you have a significant humidity problem, like mold, condensation, or cracking and warping wood, speak with a professional about addressing the real problem.
The easiest and best method for adding or removing humidity from the home is a whole-home humidification system. They monitor the home for proper humidity and then turn on the humidifier or dehumidifier as needed to bring the entire home to the ideal humidity level.
We highly recommend a central humidification system if you want to protect your furniture, art, and other parts of your home from mold, rust, pests, warping, and cracking.
Keep in mind that whole-home humidification systems cost more and require regular maintenance. Still, if you want the best, you want whole-home humidification.
Every type of humidifier and dehumidifier has upsides and downsides so speak with a Champion first.
Speak with the professionals at Service Champions to find out which humidification system is perfect for you and your home.
Service Champions is known for trustworthy, on-time home service throughout the East Bay, South Bay, and Sacramento areas.