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Why Is Low Humidity Such a Problem in the Winter?

We live in the Salt Lake City, UT area, which means that none of us are strangers to the problems caused by low humidity. A desert atmosphere, high elevation and cold winters combine to make our air dry as a bone, and here in the middle of January, you can feel it more than ever. Why is low humidity such a problem in the winter, and what can you do about it? The answers can be found below.

Family warming up hands over electric heaterRelative Humidity

We measure humidity in terms of relative humidity, a percentage charts the amount of ambient moisture in the air. At 100%, you’re looking at rain. At 0%, there’s no moisture in the air at all (something that almost never occurs on Planet Earth). Human beings are usually comfortable when the relative humidity levels sit between 30% and 50%. When it drops lower than that, it becomes a problem.

Salt Lake City has two blows against it on that front. Our high elevation and desert environment means that our air is very dry to begin with. That gets worse in the winter, when low temperatures cause the ambient moisture in the air to coalesce into droplets, leaving the air itself much drier. The issues that creates can have devastating ramifications for your home.

What Kinds of Problems Does Dry Air Create?

The problems associated with dry air are numerous, and usually involve the following:

  • Dry, itchy skin. Low humidity levels can pull moisture from our skin, resulting in that dry, itchy feeling, as well as chapped lips.
  • Static electricity. No one likes that nasty shock when we touch a piece of metal in the winter. Static electricity gets worse when the air gets drier.
  • Greater risk of illness. Low humidity levels will dry out your sinuses, leaving your body more vulnerable to colds and flu bugs. This is compounded by the fact that we leave our homes closed tight in the winter, allowing those germs to circulate through the home.
  • Greater strain on your heater. Dry air feels cooler than it actually is, which means your heater will have to work harder to warm up your home. Not only will that raise your monthly bills, but it will increase strain on your system which raises the risk of a breakdown in the future.

Whole-House Humidifiers Are the Solution

The good news is that there’s a “magic bullet” for dealing with low humidity levels: a whole-house humidifier installed in your HVAC system. It’s a simple system: a wick or pad connected to a water reservoir, with a fan that blows across the surface to send moisture vapor into your home. That cuts down on the problems caused by dry air tremendously, and restores your home to the comfort levels your family deserves. Humidifiers are easy for a trained professional to install and can last a long time provided you keep the reservoir filled.

The friendly technicians of At Your Service are standing by to install a new humidifier in your home. Give us a call today!

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