IS DRY AIR FROM WINTER HEATING UNHEALTHY?
Why is winter air so dry?
A lot of people suffer moderate symptoms from dry winter air in Connecticut. You may have itchy eyes, chapped lips, cracked cuticles, and dry sinuses, but why?
The cold outdoor air is drier in the winter, and the indoor air can be even drier! This can be explained by relative humidity and heating. Cold air is dense, and warm air expands. A simple way to think about it is that as the air expands, it creates more room for water vapor to exist. Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor present in the air divided by the maximum amount that parcel of air could hold at the same temperature and pressure. When you take cold air and heat it, the numerator (amount of water vapor) stays the same, but the denominator (maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold) increases, so the relative humidity decreases. In the following example, pretend each square can hold one unit of water vapor (represented by the blue droplet)
The blue square represents the cold, unheated air, and has a relative humidity of 55.5%. The red square represents the warm, heated air. When you heat your home, you are increasing the number of squares, but the number of water droplets stays the same. In this example, heating decreased the relative humidity to 31%. This heated dry air will suck moisture from anything: you, the wood in your home, your plants, etc. It's really no different than a hair drier.
Everyone agrees that dry winter air is uncomfortable, but not everyone knows that it is actually bad for your health. The relative humidity in your home should be between 30%-60%. You can monitor the relative humidity in your home with a hygrometer
What problems are associated with high and low humidity?
If the relative humidity is too high, you may have mold problems or dust mites, but this is rare in the winter so we will focus on low relative humidity. According to a study prepared by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (May, 2000) 'air that is too dry (below 30% relative humidity) can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation.' It can also make you more susceptible to cold and flu viruses. The mucus that exists in your nose is there to trap any viruses and release them before they infect you. If your sinuses dry out, your mucus membranes cannot do their job. Other negative effects are nosebleeds, sinus irritation, and dry skin.
How can you increase the humidity in your home? Certain home improvement projects ct can reduce the need to heat. We have some other quick fixes as well!
Insulate so that you don't need to heat as much!
The more you have to heat your home, the drier the air will be. If your home is well insulated, you won't need to heat as much to maintain the same temperature. There are several ways to insulate your home. Most homes have insulation in the walls, roof, and attic. Insulated siding CT helps creates a building envelope that does not conduct heat and has a higher R-value. Certainteed Mastic and Alside manufacture quality insulated siding ct homes can really benefit from. These products are known for energy efficiency and reduced heating costs, but that reduced heating also reduces dryness!
A leaky roof ct means lost heat, and more heating. The same goes for doors, windows, and attics. A well sealed home is definitely more energy efficient, but requires proper ventilation. Consult an expert or your roofing contractor Connecticut homes require special systems because it can be hot and humid or dry and cold. An inappropriate ventilation system can draw moist summer air into wall cavities, which can cause moisture damage and mold growth that affects your health. In the winter, indoor air may leak into the walls and ceiling and if it is cold enough, the water vapor will condense, resulting in the same problems. If you suspect a problem with your ventilation system, refer to our roof inspection checklist or call Fiderio and Sons, your roofing contractor Connecticut.
Doors are a source of heat loss because they are often not sealed perfectly, and they are frequently opened and closed. Therma Tru manufactures doors that insulate well and they have fully integrated weatherstripping to ensure a tight seal (one of the many reasons they have such great reviews)
Windows in Connecticut can also be a major source of heat loss because glass does not insulate as well as insulated home siding, for example. Leaky windows in Connecticut homes are very common because wooden window frames change size as humidity changes. The dry winter air sucks moisture from wooden frames and causes them to shrink. We strongly recommend vinyl window frames because they are custom fit and vinyl does not change with humidity. Sunrise Windows manufactures beautiful window frames that come with energy-efficient glass. Some people are afraid vinyl won't match their traditional CT home, but Sunrise windows has engineered a material that you really can't distinguish from wood. If you need replacement windows, don't wait. Old window frames increase winter dryness, cost you money on your heating bill, and are often a breeding ground for mold. Mold irritation coupled with dried out sinuses will prevent you from having a joyous season. Sunrise windows also allow you to keep your home more moist without unwanted condensation.
There are a few things you can do in addition to any of these home improvement projects ct to increase the humidity in your home. A humidifier is obviously a quick fix, but it can also be a breeding ground for mold. Make sure to clean your humidifiers regularly!! Buying some plants also increases humidity in your home. Plants release water into the air through transpiration, and they are a nice touch to make your home a cozy pleasant place!
You may not have been expecting health tips from your Roofing Contractor Connecticut, but we really want you to stay well this season. If your home is on the dry side, buy a plant and a humidifier, go through our roof inspection checklist, feel for leaky doors and windows, consider insulated siding, and don't forget to stay hydrated! Please call us if you need further assistance.