Have you ever heard someone say “It’s not the heat that gets you, it’s the humidity?” This popular adage refers to the fact that an 80 degree day with a high humidity level can often be more uncomfortable than a 100 degree day with low humidity. But why is this the case? How can humidity have such a dramatic impact on your comfort level, and even result in negative health effects in large amounts? In order to answer this question, we first need to learn what humidity is and what it does.
Humidity & You
Humidity is the term for the amount of water vapor present in the air in a particular area at a given time. When water evaporates, it doesn’t just disappear, but instead turns into water vapor and enters the air around you. Depending on a few things, including the temperature, the air can hold a certain amount of water vapor; generally, warmer air can hold more vapor than colder air. More moisture in the air means it can hold less and therefore less water is able to evaporate. Your body relies on evaporation to dispel heat, and evaporation is limited or impossible, your body remain stuck with the heat.
Have you ever noticed how getting your hands wet makes them feel cooler? This is evaporative cooling in action: as water evaporates into vapor off of your skin, it removes some of the heat with it. This is how sweat keeps you cool: when you sweat, your body is trying to use evaporative cooling to remove heat from your body. This is also the same reason why jumping into a swimming pool feels great during hot summer days.
However, when the air is already full of water vapor, the sweat your body is constantly producing cannot evaporate, which means your body heat has no way of escaping. This is how a cooler day can actually feel scorching hot, even though the temperature is actually lower than a warm day with dry air.
Indoor humidity is a nuisance that can be difficult to control, particularly on a warm day with humid outside air. High indoor humidity can lead to things like mold growth, rotting wood in your internal structure, and more. It can also lead to negative health effects, such as triggering of asthma or allergy attacks. Plus, nobody likes to feel sweaty and uncomfortable inside their home.
However, if you have an air conditioner, you already have arguably the best tool for combatting humidity. Air conditioners work by using an evaporator coil, which forces humidity to condense on it and then evaporate again when air is forced over it with a fan (all of which takes place in the outside unit). In the condenser coil inside, the air is cooled yet again by being passed over a condenser coil, which further removes humidity from the air. As a result, the air that enters your home should be cool and dry, which keeps you more comfortable.
However, if you live in an extremely humid area or have an older A/C system, your home could need a little bit of extra help, particularly in areas where more damp air tends to occur naturally, such as near your washer and drier. In these instances, you may want to consider investing in a de-humidifier, which is a specialized machine designed to remove moisture from the air. This can help keep your home comfortable, but also will require extra electricity. If you think your air conditioner alone should be able to solve the issue, speak with a Raleigh air conditioning services expert to find out how you can improve your home’s HVAC system to increase efficiency and remove humidity.