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How Humidity Affects Your Heating and Cooling Systems

Too much or too little relative humidity is always a source of discomfort in the home. For this reason, HVAC contractors want homeowners to know that they should also be concerned about how relative humidity can affect your heating and cooling systems.

What is Relative Humidity?

Relative humidity pertains to the percentage of water vapor per volume of air compared to the highest amount of water vapor that the air can hold at a given temperature. Warm air can hold more moisture than cool air.

How Relative Humidity Affects Your Cooling System When It's Hot

Our bodies perspire to cool us off through the evaporation of moisture from our skin. But when the air is humid, the evaporation rate slows down because the air is already holding so much moisture. Therefore, we feel hotter even if the actual temperature isn't that high.

As a result, we set the air conditioner to a much lower temperature to keep ourselves comfortable. In addition, it's harder to cool an area with higher relative humidity, as water vapor retains more heat than dry air. As a result, in humid conditions the air conditioner works harder than it should and your energy bills soar.

How Relative Humidity Affects Your Heating System

When the relative humidity in your home is too low, you'll feel much cooler than it actually is, and you might compensate by cranking up the thermostat. This results in your system having to work harder. Also, as the air heats up, the relative humidity also decreases when there's no other source of moisture in the area.

Before considering a new heating system installation, first check if the humidity levels in your home are causing your system to work harder.  For the best comfort levels, maintain a relative humidity of around 30%-50%. You can monitor relative humidity with a hygrometer.

For a long-term solution to humidity problems in your home, you may want to consider adding a dehumidifier or humidifier to your HVAC system.

WM Buffington Company is the one HVAC company you can trust for HVAC installation services and plumbing needs. For a free, no-obligation estimate on a complete system replacement or repair and maintenance service, give us a call at (717) 657-2451 or fill out our contact form for an estimate. We serve clients in Harrisburg, PA.


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