Adjusting humidity levels to outside temperatures

When temperatures drop, the right humidifier setting can keep a home comfortable.

Okay, so you bought a new humidifier this holiday season. But, now that you've set it up, you're seeing mixed results. You followed all the directions on the box (hopefully) and checked to make sure the chord is plugged in (believe me this has happened even to me), but you're still not seeing the desired affect. Well, just like a new car, a humidifier takes a little getting used to. (I remember when I bought my first automatic vehicle and kept trying to stamp on the clutch…)

I've received more than few emails about this topic this week, so I thought I'd begin by addressing another factor many of you eager readers are missing out on. Mainly, that a humidifier works best when it's set at a level that contrasts well with the air outside. Now, most experts say that a home should be kept at a humidity level of between 20 and 40 percent (and this is certainly a good place to start adjusting your levels), but this can vary based on the temperature outside.

In my experience, I've found that the colder the temperature, the lower you want your humidity levels in the winter. For example, when it's above 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside, I'd advise sticking to a 40 percent humidity level. This will help decrease the condensation that appears on your home's windows and reduce the risk that your residence is then adversely affected by mold or harmful bacteria.

When the temperature drops to 10 degrees Fahrenheit or below, adjust the humidity levels to be around 25 to 30 percent. However, some houses (old ones in particular) aren't good at keeping in humidity, while newer residences may hold in moisture well, so you should tweak these settings until you're seeing the desired results.

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