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Dry Air in Winter: Facts and Solutions

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One of the main troubles you may encounter with your indoor air quality in Indianapolis, IN during the winter is the air that’s too dry. Humidity in the summer is an annoyance that makes the warm weather feel worse. Dry air may sound like a relief, but it brings its own set of problems—and during the winter months these problems can make life in your home much worse. We want you to know some basic facts about dry air in winter, the problems it causes, and what can be done about it.

Dry Air Harms Winter Comfort

The same way that humid air makes hot weather feel worse by trapping heat inside your body, dry air makes cold weather feel worse because it allows heat to rapidly escape from your body. Neither changes the actual temperature of the air, it just makes it feel hotter or colder. 

Air is considered too dry when the relative humidity drops below 30%. This can make the temperature in the house feel 8° to 10°F colder. Not only will you feel worse on a cold day, but you’ll have to run the heating system for longer to make up the difference, and this can lead to steeper energy bills.

Dry Air Creates Health Problems

You’ve felt the direct effects of dry conditions before: itchy, scratchy, flaky skin, irritated eyes and nose, cracked lips. Aside from these problems, dry air makes it easier for illnesses to spread around a household because it dries up mucus and sinus membranes, a body’s vital protection against the transmission of colds and the flu.

Although not an actual health problem, dry air increases the amount of static electricity in a house, which is annoying and may damage electronic equipment. 

Does a Gas Furnace Dry the Air?

This is a question people often have about dry conditions in a house because they’ve heard that a gas furnace pulls moisture from the air. This isn’t true, but older gas furnaces can lead to drier air because they draw on the air in the house for combustion purposes. This leaves a deficit in the air in the house, and outside air—which is drier than the indoor air—rushes in to replace it. Modern furnaces with sealed combustion don’t have this effect on household air. 

The Whole-House Humidifier

There are a number of ways to improve the humidity level in your house, such as replacing older heating equipment. But if you already have an effective heating system, the best way to combat dry air is with a whole-house humidifier.

This is an add-on to the HVAC system, not a separate appliance plugged into the house in a room. Our technicians can integrate a humidifier into the HVAC system that works in conjunction with the heating system so that it never makes the house too humid. You control the humidity levels from a device on the thermostat called an aquastat. This allows you to balance humidity levels around an ideal 45% relative humidity. 

To find out more about what we can do to combat dry conditions in your home this winter, call our experts.

Your Comfort is Vital—so call Vital Heating & Air. We offer many indoor air quality solutions, such as adding a humidifier to your HVAC system.

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