When it comes to the summer months with all the fun, outdoor activities, and vacations, it is humidity inside a room that can make that long summer a miserable one. Why do I still feel soaking wet after my shower and I dried myself with a towel?
So as humans it is not just about the relatively cool temperature we need, lowering the humidity even on the hottest of days can make a tremendous difference.
I experienced this when I first moved to a semi-arid part of North America many years ago. Having grown up in a northern mid-west state and then living in Germany for 7 years, I only experienced hot and humid. That was my spring and summer life.
Then I moved to Colorado because I wanted to find out what this Rocky Mountain High was all about. I was not there very long; in the summer months I went to a friend’s home noticed his outdoor thermometer showed something north of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I honestly thought my day was in the high 70’s. That is what a lack of humidity can do for you.
Do not get me wrong, hot is hot no matter what, but lowering humidity can go a long way to enjoying the “comfort zone” in your house. We will discuss cooling the house in the semi-arid parts of the country towards the end.
Lowering Humidity Without The Machines
So before you run up your electric bill maybe it would be a great idea to look at some of the ways to lower your humidity in your home before you employ a dehumidifier or air conditioner. Here are some ideas.
One way is to use rock salt. Yes I know, you already stored the leftover salt for winters melt right? Well pull it back out and here is what you do. You will get two plastic 5-gallon buckets from any DIY home improvement store.
- You will drill holes in one bucket on the bottom.
- Then place this hole-drilled bucket inside the other non-hole drilled bucket. Put in rock salt and put it in the part of your room that you want to dehumidify.
- Then empty the bucket in a few days that has water in it and add or change the rock salt.
There are also products on the market you can buy such as:
Simply follow the directions on these products to help reduce the moisture in your room.
Keep your home well ventilated even in the summer months. This does mean opening some windows slightly to let the airflow in and through your living areas.
If your home is a newer home, it already has vapor barriers built into it such as house wrap and faced insulation. If your home is older, then updating these issues might be worth the cost over the long run. These building practices can help with the moisture ruining parts of your home.
Also, make sure that there are no leaks, even small ones in your home, including a toilet that seems to always be filling with water. Get them repaired.
What About Fans
This is where you start with the machines. Even with Air conditioning, using your ceiling fan(s) to continuously move air through your home is a great idea. You do not want moisture just hanging out on the walls and other places. Make sure the air is moving throughout your home.
Also, when taking a shower, use your exhaust fan, try taking a little colder shower and keep it to a minimum time in the shower. After the shower, keep the bathroom exhaust fan running for 5 to 10 minutes after you finish your shower to get that moisture back outside.
For those of you with a second-floor use that attic fan that is installed in your hallway. If you do not have one, invest in one and have it installed. A good hallway attic fan will pull air up from your downstairs, up the stairway and into the attic that should have ventilation built in that will force this air out of the house.
You can also use a small electric fan space heater to heat the room slightly with dry heat. This will help lower the humidity.
How Do Dehumidifiers Work
Okay, now we are getting to the machines. A dehumidifier is a machine that does exactly what the name implies. It will literally pull moisture out of the air and convert it back to liquid water. Here is a brief description of how they work and where to use them.
What makes people miserable is relative humidity. This is defined as the amount of moisture air can hold (a fixed amount) at a given temperature. The ratio of the fixed amount of moisture that air can hold at a certain temperature compared to the actual amount that it is holding at that temperature.
A moisture monitor in your house will tell you this.
Basically, if the humidity is making you feel miserable, then it is too high. Simple as that! So here is how de-humidifier works. It is similar to the condensation you find on the outside of cups of soda or water on a hot day.
- A de-humidifier will use a fan to draw air into the unit.
- This air then pulled over cooled coils, like a refrigerant coil where the condensation forms.
- The condensation drops to the internal bucket and then the de-humidifier forces hot air back into the room in the form of dry heat.
This water bucket will need to be emptied from time to time or on some models will have the ability to attach a garden hose to the unit and allow the water to flow out of the unit to a nearby drain. Some come with a humidistat to sense the humidity in the room. You can then set it to the desired humidity.
So depending on the size of your unit and the room size will determine the effectiveness of your dehumidifier. Most people will use a de-humidifier in a basement apartment or in their actual basement while the rest of the house is using an air conditioner.
How Do Air Conditioners Work
One might think that de-humidifiers and air conditioners do the same function but that is not exactly correct. Air Conditioners will cool the air. The basic principle is that cold air cannot carry as much moisture as warm air.
Here is how it works.
When liquids convert to the gas they absorb heat. This is called phase conversion. So similar to your refrigerator, the air conditioner uses compounds in a closed coil system that continuously evaporates and condenses.
These compounds are called refrigerants and their properties will not be covered in this article except just know that they work in this closed system.
- So an air conditioner has a fan that moves interior air over these closed system coils.
- These coils absorb this heat as they change from liquid to gas.
- A compressor will then be used to force the coil system to go back to liquid from the gas state.
- This creates unwanted heat and a second fan moves this air through a second condenser coil to the outdoors.
- The cycle begins again and again as long as the air conditioner is running.
- Basically, an air conditioner moves cold air back into the room and hot air to the outside while dripping moisture that is now liquid to the outside as well.
There are a few other things an air conditioner will accomplish. It works as an air filtration system using a filter that works like a de-humidifier and brings cooler air back into the room. That is the basics of an air conditioner to cool your home.
Larger air conditioners for your home and even in commercial buildings work a little differently but the main principles are in play.
You can look up how a de-humidifiers and air-conditioners work, along with learning about how almost anything works at this site: https://www.howstuffworks.com/
So if you took some of the ideas here in reducing humidity you should be able to enjoy your spring, summer, and autumn on those very hot and humid days.
Of course, there are places that are hot as down under but have low humidity. Hot is still hot no matter the air moisture content. How can I enjoy my home if I live in these areas during the summer months?
What About Swamp Coolers?
Well, this name is somewhat deceiving as we do not really want to cool a swamp or help alligators enjoy their life in the murky waters now do we? So let’s see how these units work.
On the outset, these units only work well in lower humidity by a very hot climate.
The western and southern states in America such as Colorado, New Mexico, Southern California, and Arizona are great places for these units to work and keep your home at a nice temperature.
Swamp coolers are also known as evaporative coolers and use the principle of air flowing through the water of moist objects to produce humid cool air. Say what? We are making humid air. Well yes in this case.
Just work with me on this one.
Hot air passing through water will cool off. This has been known for centuries and if you put a wet towel close to your room fan the hot air will pass through it and have cooler air on the other side. So here is how it works.
- An evaporative cooler will pull hot air from outside through a reservoir of water that is part of the unit.
- It does not really go through the water reservoir but actually through a pad saturated by water from this reservoir.
- As the hot air is forced through this saturated pad, then cool air comes out the other side (with humidity of course).
- So this in effect takes your very hot dry heat inside your home and converts it to much cooler air that has a higher humidity content.
This is basically the opposite of what the air conditioner or even de-humidifiers will accomplish. So when and where would you use these units?
First, you would never use them in conjunction with an air conditioner or de-humidifier as they would simply cancel each other out and then you have a high electric bill and a miserable living environment as well.
Secondly, they only work well in arid to semi-arid regions so not needed in the northeast or southeast of the USA. However, a good example of where to use them is in Colorado as I have personally experienced their use during the summer months when I lived there for 13 years.
Wrapping It Up!
In this article, we have covered several ways in which you can use to keep cool and lower your humidity in your home. It does not matter where you live, what you want to achieve is a relative humidity of about 40% to 50%.
That is what humans like, prefer and is a healthy level.
- So living in high humid regions you want to cool the air and remove humidity from your living area.
- If you live in high dry heat areas of the country you want to cool the air and add some relative humidity back into your living area.
- When you employ these solutions with intelligence and some manner of common sense and climate management you can achieve a quality of life level no matter what your economic status is.
- You have learned how to lower humidity and how to increase your humidity to achieve the optimum level of relative humidity in your home.
To sum up, know what region you live in. Start with the more economical methods first and then employ the use of the machines as needed. It would be your responsibility to employ climate controls to achieve the most cost-effective solutions.
To your health, your comfort and a higher quality of life!
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