How dry air affects our health and home

Feeling dry and uncomfortable? Find out what causes dry air, signs of dry indoor air, and solutions to combat low humidity indoors for a more comfortable home.

How dry air affects our health and home

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The dryness of the air in our homes can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms. From dry skin and irritated eyes to increased allergies and cracked furniture, combating dry air is an important task. 

Fortunately, there are several simple methods you can use to increase moisture in the air of your home and make it more comfortable. This article will address why your indoor air may be dry, issues caused by dry air, plus tips on how to combat low humidity in the home.

Why is my home indoor air dry?

In Australia, it is common for the air in our homes to be dry. This is due to a combination of environmental factors and lifestyle choices.

Australia is known for its dry climate, especially during the hot summer months when the sun is at its strongest. For many Australians living through the summer, it can be a difficult time as temperatures soar, leaving them looking for ways to stay cool indoors. Staying inside in Australia's dry climate is usually the best way to beat the heat and stay comfortable.

Furthermore, when we heat our homes during the colder winter months, this dries out the air further as warm air holds less moisture than cooler temperatures. Additionally, using evaporative cooling systems and running the air conditioner can also reduce humidity levels in our homes even more. 

Issues caused by dry air at home

Dry nose and throat

Dry air at home can lead to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. Cold, dry air pulls moisture from your mouth and nose, leaving your nasal passages dried out and your throat dry. Scratchy throat or nasal passages can also happen due to excess mucus production in an attempt to moisturize the area. Plus, dry nostrils are more likely to crack and give you a nosebleed. 

Getting sick easily

Because your nose needs mucus to trap viruses and other icky invaders before they can get you sick, dry nostrils can also make you more vulnerable to colds, sinus infections, and the flu. This is especially a problem in winter, when bacteria and viruses can tend to linger longer in the dry air after someone coughs or sneezes.

Breeding ground for COVID-19

In addition to that, studies have found that dry air is a breeding ground for COVID-19. Studies have shown that as humidity levels decrease, it makes it easier for smaller particles carrying coronavirus in the air to travel longer distances and stay airborne for longer periods of time. This means people who are exposed to low levels of humidity could potentially be more vulnerable to infection than those living in areas with higher humidity levels.

Dry, itchy skin

Another common symptom associated with having dry air in the house is itchy, flaky skin. Dry air causes moisture to evaporate from the skin faster than usual and leaves behind scaly patches. People with eczema or other conditions may find their symptoms worsen when exposed to dry air for extended periods of time. 

Allergens in the air

When you turn up the thermostat in your home, your heating system kicks up clouds of dust, pollen, and other allergens that can inflame your sinuses. Cold, dry air plus those allergens can also irritate your airways. Cold and dry air can also be problematic for some people with asthma, as it irritates their airways and nasal passages.

Damage to the home

Low humidity can also wreak havoc on a home, causing damage to the building structure and to home contents. Wood is especially vulnerable to the effects of low humidity since it absorbs moisture from the air around it. When the atmosphere is dry, wood contracts and shrinks as it loses moisture, creating cracks that weaken its structural integrity. In addition, window panes and door frames made with wood tend to warp or move out of place when exposed to prolonged periods of dryness.

Damage can also occur with wooden instruments such as guitars and violins; as well as books that lose their shape when stored in areas with inadequate air moisture. Other than that, electronics such as computers and stereo components are also at risk due to static electricity generated by excessively dry air. Dry air can also desiccate wine bottle corks, causing them to crack, shrink, and let in wine-ruining air.

How to increase humidity in your home

Ideal humidity levels can vary from person to person, however, most experts agree that comfortable humidity levels range between 30% and 50%. Keeping your home's humidity level within this range can help make you more comfortable, as well as reduce the likelihood of health problems such as allergies or asthma attacks.

At lower than 30%, many people report feeling dryness in their eyes and throat, while higher than 50% can cause condensation on windows, promote mould growth and exacerbate respiratory issues. It is important to regularly monitor humidity levels with a hygrometer to ensure they remain within the ideal range.

If you have excessively dry air at home, increase humidity levels with some simple methods below:

Ensure your home is sealed

Because¬†dry homes are attributed to¬†how much outside air sneaks into your home, a ‚Äúleaky home‚ÄĚ will dry out faster than a well-sealed home. That‚Äôs why it is of paramount importance to seal up¬† your house. This helps your home¬†retain more moisture within.

In order to do this, look for cracks in the foundation, gaps around windows and doors, and if you have an attached garage, don’t forget about the service door. This door is especially important to seal, as it may also allow fumes from your automobile to enter your home.

Use house plants to increase indoor humidity levels

Get houseplants

Houseplants are a great addition to any home. Not only do they look beautiful, but they can also help to increase the humidity in your house and improve the air quality by releasing oxygen into the environment. 

Transpiration is the process by which moisture evaporates from the leaves and stems of plants, adding much needed humidity to the air in your home. A dry home can be tough on houseplants as the battle for humidity wages, so be sure to keep them well watered.

Place vases in sunny places to increase indoor humidity levels

Place vases in sunny places

Another method is to place vases filled with water in sunny places around your home. When placed in direct sunlight, the evaporating water in the vase will add extra humidity to your home’s air supply. This is especially beneficial for those who live in hot climates where temperatures rise during summer months and tend to stay hot throughout much of the year.

Cook or boil water indoors to increase low humidity levels indoors

Stove-top cooking

Cooking or boiling water indoors is an effective, low-cost way to raise indoor humidity levels. Boiling a pot of water on the stove or using an electric kettle can provide a quick boost in moisture content.¬†The use of steam from cooking or boiling increases airborne moisture, making the air feel warm and more comfortable. In fact, this method can effectively add several points of relative humidity inside your home ‚Äď around 10% to 20%.¬†

Shower with the door open to combat dry air or low humidity at home

Leave the door open when showering

Showering with the door open is a simple and cost-effective way to increase the humidity in your home.¬†Doing this will allow steam to escape into the rest of the house instead of getting trapped inside the bathroom. Additionally, consider increasing your shower time slightly so that more steam is released into other areas of your home ‚Äď just make sure to close any other doors so that warm air doesn‚Äôt escape.¬†If baths are more your bag, don‚Äôt drain the tub when you get out. Instead, wait for the water to cool first to take advantage of the residual heat to add a little humidity to the air.¬†

Hang dry laundry indoors to increase humidity levels at home

Dry laundry indoors

One of the simplest ways to increase humidity at home is to hang damp laundry indoors. This method requires very little effort but, depending on how wet the laundry is and how much space you have available, it can make a significant difference.

Hang up damp towels or bedding near radiators or other heat sources for maximum effect. Line-drying your clothes inside will encourage the moisture that evaporates from your clothes as they dry to humidify your home. You'll be able to see an instant change in humidity levels as well as feeling a noticeable difference in comfort levels throughout your home.

Use a humidifier to increase humidity levels indoors - Ionmax ION90 Humidifier

Use a humidifier

Although the above solutions may be a good idea, using a humidifier is an effective way to increase humidity indoors - especially if you're located in the drier regions of Australia, such as certain areas in WA, and especially in the center of NT. They're easy to carry around, easy to operate, and best of all: they're always constant and humidifying.

Humidifiers work by adding moisture to the air through evaporation. It works best when placed near windows or vents where air flow is highest. This will circulate moisture throughout your space more efficiently. When selecting a humidifier, make sure it has an adjustable setting so that you can control the amount of humidity being released into the room. Additionally, you should clean and maintain your humidifier regularly to ensure optimal operation and prevent mould growth.

 

Dry air at home can cause harm to our health and our home if not addressed. It is important for anyone suffering from dry air at home to be aware of the symptoms of dry air and take steps to improve the humidity levels in their homes. By incorporating the simple tips above, homeowners can prevent such issues from occurring. 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from professionals according to your needs.

Ionmax Australia

Ionmax Australia

Founded in 2003, Ionmax Australia has received numerous awards and accolades for its innovative products and commitment to customer satisfaction. Ionmax dehumidifiers and air purifiers have been recognised for their effectiveness in reducing indoor air pollutants and improving air quality. The company is committed to researching and developing new and improved products that meet the needs and expectations of its customers, making it a trusted name in households across Australia and beyond.

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