Midwest summers can be brutal. Though the average temperature during Chicagoland summers is a mere 85°F, the humidity level averages around 70%. With seventy percent of the air saturated with water vapor, it’s no wonder walking outside can feel like walking into a steam room!
Living in a humid climate can be uncomfortable, sticky, and--if you have hair that’s prone to frizzing--frustrating. But it’s not just an inconvenience: humid environments can lead to serious home and health issues. Allergens such as bacteria and mold thrive in humid climates, and both of these contaminants can have effects on your body and home.
While it’s impossible to control the humidity levels outside, it is possible to limit the humidity levels in your indoor environment. Generally, indoor humidity levels should be around 30-50% during the summer, depending on each family’s preference. Air conditioners are designed to reduce humidity levels in your home, but they can have trouble keeping up with the demand if they are older or improperly-sized. If you like to keep your windows open during the summer, the constant influx of humidity into your indoor air can also be difficult for your A/C to handle.
Portable dehumidifiers are a great option for homeowners looking to reduce the humidity level in their home, but they can only be used in one room at a time. They are also loud and require daily maintenance, which isn’t always ideal for busy homeowners.
Whole-home humidifiers, on the other hand, provide the same benefits as portable devices but without the constant maintenance and noise. They connect directly to your HVAC unit and automatically control the humidity levels in your home throughout the year.
Because Chicagoland can get so humid during the summer, we often recommend whole-home dehumidifiers to customers dealing with home and health issues as a result of the moisture in the air. Here are the top three benefits you can expect from using a dehumidifier:
Less Mold and Mildew Growth
Mold and mildew thrive in damp environments. Leaky roofs, windows, wet carpet, pipes, and any other area that gathers moisture can all foster the right conditions for mold and mildew.
While finding mold and mildew in your home can be a bit icky, it can also have negative effects on your health. For starters, mold is an allergen trigger. It can cause uncomfortable symptoms for those that suffer from allergies, including coughing, wheezing, itchy eyes, nasal irritation, and even hives. People with compromised immune systems or lung diseases in particular face the risk of a serious lung infection when exposed to mold or mildew.
The CDC recommends keeping the humidity levels in your home no higher than 50% in order to prevent mold growth. By installing a whole-home dehumidifier, you can ensure that the humidity levels in your home are kept at safe levels all day long without constant maintenance.
It’s important to note that removing humidity from the air won’t kill mold spores that are already living in your home. While a humidity level at or below 50% prevents mold spores from growing or spreading, any mold that is already hiding away in your house will need to be cleaned. Warm, soapy water or household cleaners containing bleach are both easy ways to remove existing mold from your house.
Improved Allergies and Asthma
Mold and mildew aren’t the only allergens that can be reduced with the help of a dehumidifier. Dust mites, one of the most common allergen triggers, reproduce rapidly in humid environments. These tiny bugs feed off the skin cells we shed and can live for up to eight weeks, taking residence in our furniture, beds, and carpet.
A single dust mite can produce up to 20 droppings a day, which contain allergens that make us sneeze and itch. Their bodies are composed of 75% water, and they need to maintain this water balance to reproduce—hence why dust mites thrive in humid environments.
When dust mites are faced with dry conditions (such as a home using a dehumidifier), they either die off or clump together for survival. In both conditions, the dust mites are unable to reproduce, which reduces the number of allergens in your home.
A whole-home dehumidifier also helps reduce asthma symptoms by keeping the humidity levels in your home at a comfortable level. Air that is too humid or too dry can exacerbate your airways and make it harder to breathe, which can be dangerous for those that suffer from asthma.
Lowers Energy Costs
If you’re familiar with humid climates, you know that humidity can make a hot day feel even hotter. Warm, sticky air makes it difficult for your body to evaporate sweat and slows down your cooling process.
Your home’s A/C removes humidity from the air in order to help cool it. When your air conditioner is faced with a particularly humid day, it has to work much harder to remove moisture and cool the indoor air to your desired temperature. A humid day forces your A/C to run longer and use more energy in the process. Over time, this wears down the unit and can lead to more frequent repairs and a shorter lifespan.
Higher energy use also means higher utility bills. In Chicagoland, where humidity can be a common summer complaint, your energy bills could suffer month after month. A whole-home dehumidifier will not only improve the quality of your indoor air but also reduce the amount of humidity your A/C has to filter out. Your energy bills will decrease, and your A/C will fare better in the long run.
Whole-home dehumidifiers are the best way to achieve a healthy indoor humidity level throughout your entire home. They don’t require any daily care, they run quietly, and they are the most-efficient way to reduce humidity in your indoor air.
If you’re noticing signs of excess moisture in your home, including water stains, condensation, musty smells, or visible mold spores, it’s time to take action. Call Four Seasons for a free estimate on a whole-home dehumidifier that will improve both your home and your family’s health this summer.