Living in Arizona during the summer can be somewhat of a luxury when you consider the perks of dry heat. Humid environments feel significantly hotter and are much harder to cool off in because the air can’t absorb any more water. Outside of the scorching pavement and vehicle-ovens, most of us would agree that the dry air here is a lot more bearable.
Who wants to deal with sticky skin at the end of a hot day? Why would you want to struggle to style your hair or constantly deal with frizz? Who likes finding mold growing under their kitchen sink because of excess moisture? What’s enjoyable about feeling like you can’t breathe?
All of these questions probably remind many of you why you chose to live in the desert. But what if we were to tell you that more humidity would improve your comfort levels? What if you came to realize that dry air actually hindered your health and appearance? Well, before we explain, let’s talk a little bit more about what humidity is.
What Exactly is Humidity?
Simply put, humidity is characterized as the amount of water vapor that’s present in the air. The term itself is broken down into two sub categories. Absolute humidity is measured by the amount of moisture in the air no matter the temperature. Relative humidity is a percentage of the total amount of moisture that can be contained in the air at a specific temperature.
How and Why to Measure Humidity.
When assessing an indoor environment, relative humidity will always give you the best depiction. This is important to point out because people are usually most comfortable when the percentage is 40-60%. A dry climate like Phoenix averages (12-33%) throughout the year. So, if you’re looking at absolute levels, you’re not going to be able to adequately balance your indoor environment.
Moreover, things within your property could be decreasing humidity levels even more. HVAC performance, ventilation levels, appliances, plants and even the time you spend cooking all play a role. In other words, the dry air here isn’t as comfortable as it may seem. While it may be better than Florida in the summer, you could be leaving a lot to be desired.
Dry Air Has Its Disadvantages.
Due to the lack of natural humidity in Phoenix, the dry air pulls moisture from any place it can – including your body. While it may be nice to not sweat profusely, dehydration can sneak up on you quickly. Since perspiration immediately evaporates in a dry climate, it can be difficult for many of us to notice how much water we’re losing.
Not much changes when our annual heat wave passes. The cold weather and the hot air coming from your furnace often create condensation which also forces the air to draw moisture from your body and surroundings. In fact, the decrease in the air’s humidity is what causes most of the country’s health problems during winter months – not the cold temperatures.
How Does Dry Air Impact Our Health?
Because of the low amount of moisture in the air, your nasal passages and respiratory system dry out a lot faster. This is especially true for people that are extremely active. It’s why so many local runners and hikers get cottonmouth. While this is certainly annoying, the decrease of moisture in your skin, throat, and sinuses also weakens the levels of mucus in your body.
When this process occurs, you become a lot more susceptible to harmful viruses and germs. As a result, you’re more likely to experience a sinus infection, sore throat or cold and flu-like symptoms. Recurrent allergic reactions that result in coughing, scratchy throats, itchy eyes or even asthma flare ups are also common effects of dry air.
When germs, allergens and viruses aren’t the culprit, the natural effects of dry air can also take their toll. Cracked lips, itchy skin, dry scalp and even nosebleeds are frequent occurrences for many living in a climate with low humidity. All of these things can also affect your pets.
Additional Consequences of Dry Air.
In addition to your health and appearance, your personal belongings can also suffer from a dry climate. Magazines, books, artwork, collector items and even drywall can easily become brittle over time. The expedited cracking of wooden floors, furniture and utensils is also a common consequence.
One of the overlooked elements of dry air is the increase of static electricity. While this is usually associated with a literal shock that catches you off guard, it can also irritate your skin and worsen headaches (or other ailments). Aside from staticky clothes, the added surge has also been known to damage musical instruments, ruin paper items and warp wood furniture.
Improving Your Heating and Cooling.
We mention all of this because most people in Phoenix don’t ever consider the importance of healthy humidification. For the most part, it’s easy to only consider the temperature advantages of a dry climate. But at the end of the day, dry air and relative humidity both have adverse effects on your health, living environment and overall comfort.
According to the EPA, a healthy indoor climate should maintain a humidity level between 30% and 60%. These levels vary because outdoor temperatures fluctuate throughout the year. Nonetheless, there are a number of reasons why they make this recommendation. Outside of air quality, increasing moisture in the winter improves warmth and lowers energy expenses.
While it may seem unpleasant to add humidity to your home or workplace during the summer, it’s not going to make you more sweaty. Your indoor temperatures are a lot cooler. Doing so also gives you the opportunity to better hydrate while cooling off on a hot day. In the long run, a balanced environment will do wonders for the lifespan of your heating and cooling systems.
Knowledge Helps You Make Good Decisions.
No matter how you go about managing your indoor climate, working with a professional is key. One minor detail can make a big difference in the comfort of your property. For example, an air conditioner that runs an excessive supply of BTU’s (because it’s too big) will make your air exceedingly dry.
Basic knowledge and a willingness to ask questions can help you ensure your HVAC equipment is efficient and reliable.
Whole Home Humidifiers Can Help.
If you’re considering the idea of healthy humidification, a whole home humidifier gives you the ability to control and manage indoor moisture levels. Unlike individual products, these are installed directly into your heating and cooling system and draw water from your main line before adding it directly into your airflow.
While adding moisture to the dry air may not seem like a life and death situation, it can clearly improve your quality of life and well-being during a pandemic. Whether you hire us or not, your comfort is our priority.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our certified technicians.