How to Balance the Humidity in My Home?
Besides making you feel really uncomfortable, high humidity levels can also make you sick and wreck damage to the things in your home. But don’t go buying too many thirsty hippos just yet—having too low humidity levels isn’t ideal either. In this guide, we tell you why, and show you some solutions to strike a balance in the humidity levels in your home.
Why too much or too little humidity isn’t great
Humidity, in essence, is the amount of moisture in the air at a given period of time. Here in Singapore, temperatures are often high, which is conducive for holding water in the air. This is why we are always experiencing high humidity levels.
In high humidity, our body is unable to cool off quickly when we sweat, as the high moisture in the air prevents the moisture on our body from evaporating. So this is the reason we feel hotter when humidity levels are high.
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Discomfort aside, high humidity levels also provide a conducive environment for breeding all sorts of allergens, such as mould, mildew and dust mites. These can lead to allergies and respiratory symptoms, and are harmful to our health, but they can also damage the things in our home.
While high humidity levels are bad, low humidity levels aren’t great either, although in Singapore, that is not often a pressing issue. In low humidity, viruses like the flu, for instance, often survive longer. The dry air can also cause other physical health problems including itchy and dry skin, dry throat and eyes, and dry nasal passages which can lead to a worsening of respiratory symptoms.
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Low humidity levels are also similarly harmful to furnishings and furniture at home, and can also lead to an increase in static electricity. Those little shocks you sometimes get on door knobs? Yep, low humidity.
Signs your home may be too humid or too dry
Things at home that are particularly sensitive to humidity levels
Wine bottles: The best humidity levels to store wine is between 60 to 80 percent. Too high and your bottle labels get damaged. Too low and your corks dry out, letting the air in and leaving you with damaged wine. A wine chiller with humidity controls will take the guesswork out of storing your wine bottles.
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Leather bags: Best kept at around 50 to 55 percent humidity level. Keeping them in areas with too high a humidity will cause them to get damaged over time, while too low humidity will cause the leather to dry out and crack. Make sure you air your bags by taking them out of storage every few months.
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Camera and lenses: In high humidity environments, problems with fungus can occur with camera and lenses that are not properly stored and left unused for a long time. You want to store them in humidity levels of between 45 to 50 percent. Consider investing in a dry cabinet to make storage more stress-free.
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Artwork: For precious artwork, you’ll want to maintain the humidity levels at around 60 percent. Display them in areas where humidity levels are general consistent with little fluctuations. Turning on your air-conditioning for a few hours a day will also help preserve your art pieces.
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Musical instruments: Wood instruments are particularly susceptible to humidity levels. Often, the wrong humidity levels can cause cracks, playability problems and tuning issues. Keep to humidity levels between 40 to 60 percent.
How to strike a balance in humidity levels at home?
1. First, determine the humidity level at home using a hygrometer: A hygrometer is an instrument you can buy to measure the amount of humidity in the air. It may sound like an industrial grade instrument, but places like Muji carries them. You’ll want to use it to measure humidity at different spots at home, because not all areas have the same level of humidity. A good healthy range hovers around 45 to 50 percent.
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2. Ventilation is key: If your home has excessive moisture, make sure you are constantly ventilating your home by opening your windows and doors as well as using fans. Areas like your bathroom and kitchen are also more prone to high levels of humidity so you might want to consider using an exhaust fan to help get rid of excess moisture fast.
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3. Make use of plants: There are some plants that actually help in reducing humidity levels at home by absorbing moisture in the air. These include the peace lily, English ivy and Boston fern. If you don’t have green fingers, consider the Tillandsia (air plant) which is easy to care for.
4. What to do when humid levels are too low: In the event that there are areas in your home that have humidity levels that are too low—not very likely in humid Singapore—consider investing in a humidifier. This is also a good option for areas in the home that are constantly exposed to air-conditioning.
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5. Get a dehumidifier for very damp spaces: In areas of the home where you can’t get rid of excess moisture through ventilation or turning the air-conditioning on, you might want to invest in a dehumidifier. There are various types out there, depending on your needs and space, with some doubling as a dryer and an air purifier. Thirsty hippos or chargeable and portable dehumidifiers are sufficient for smaller areas like your closet.