Our winters stay pretty comfortable here in South Florida, and it’s common for daytime highs to approach 80 degrees. However, we get some cold snaps where the overnight temperatures drop down to 40 degrees. Because we’re so used to the heat, these chilly nights feel pretty cold to us.
We sometimes see a drop in humidity with these cool nights, especially if you’re running your heater. However, we’re also used to humidity, so a decrease in air moisture can make the typical Floridian uncomfortable. That’s why we recommend considering using a humidifier in wintertime, at least on the coldest nights of the year. Let’s cover the top reasons why!
- Reduces Static Electricity
- Keeps Your Skin from Drying Out
- Provides Relief for Congestion and Coughing
- Reduces Snoring
- Protects Wood Furniture and Flooring
Cold Air Means Dry Air
As air temperature decreases, so does its ability to hold moisture. In colder climates where the temperature regularly stays below freezing, the air is arid and uncomfortable. Our coldest overnight lows in Florida are between 30 and 40 degrees, which can still create uncomfortable dryness inside our homes and buildings. However, the problem is compounded further by running your heater.
Dry air is uncomfortable, and it can also cause some health problems. When the air is dry, it causes the mucous membranes in your nose and throat to dry out, leading to an increased risk of infection. Dry air can also worsen respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergies. Additionally, dry air can cause your skin to become dry, cracked, and itchy.
There are several ways to combat the effects of dry air, both inside and outside your home. You can use a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home. You can also take shorter showers with cooler water and use a moisturizing body wash. Outside, you can limit your time in dry, windy conditions and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
How Humidifiers Raise the Humidity
It’s pretty simple: humidifiers pump moisture into your home’s indoor environment. There are two common types of humidifiers today. Warm mist and cool mist humidifiers. The typical warm mist humidifiers are pretty simple.
They use a heating element at the bottom of a water tank to heat the water until it evaporates into steam which is released out into the room. These humidifiers are often used in children’s rooms because the steam can help soothe a cough or cold.
Cool mist humidifiers don’t use any heat to evaporate the water. Instead, they rely on an ultrasonic vibration (which creates a cool mist) or a fan (which blows the cool mist into the room). These types of humidifiers are often used in larger rooms or for people who have allergies because they don’t use heat which could potentially aggravate allergies.
However, warm mist humidifiers can work with your heater to help heat your home. Increased humidity, in general, makes it easier for your heat pump or air handler to do its job and operate efficiently.
Flu and Allergy Considerations
Everyone knows that wintertime is flu season, but not many realize the rise in flu is in part tied to humidity. When indoor humidity levels are low (less than 25%), three-quarters of airborne flu viruses can infect humans. However, when humidity levels are raised over 40%, about 80% of airborne flu viruses can infect a new host.
There are a few reasons for this. First, low humidity leads to drier mucous membranes in the nose and throat. These drier surfaces are more susceptible to viral infection as they cannot trap and kill viruses as effectively. In addition, low humidity also decreases the production of infection-fighting antibodies. It reduces the activity of white blood cells that help to fight off infection.
On the other hand, high humidity air can trap more viruses and make it harder for them to become airborne. In addition, high humidity also helps to keep mucous membranes moist, which makes it harder for viruses to attach and enter cells.
While there is no guarantee raising indoor humidity levels will prevent everyone in your household from getting the flu, it can certainly help to reduce the spread of the virus. In addition, keeping indoor humidity levels between 40-60% can also help reduce other respiratory infections and, allergies, and asthma symptoms.
Dry air also dries out and irritates your skin, nose, and throat, breaking down your first lines of defense against viruses and making you uncomfortable.
The same goes for the effects of allergies, which may feel more severe if your body is already irritated. If you and your family struggle with the flu every year, consider investing in humidity to supplement your annual flu shot.
If you are a chronic allergy sufferer, be sure not to allow your indoor humidity to rise above 50%.
While the humidity level needed to feel comfortable varies from person to person, it’s usually reasonable to shoot for levels between 40 – 50% during the Florida winter.
Consult the Indoor Comfort Experts
If you have further questions about how to improve the indoor comfort of your South Florida home or business, call us here at East Coast Mechanical.
Since 1985, we’ve been the local experts in heating and air conditioning systems. We can offer advice tailored to your specific needs and situation. Contact us today!
ECM Air Conditioning, with its headquarters located in Boynton Beach, FL, provides air conditioning services within Palm Beach County, Broward County, Martin County, and St. Lucie County. If you’re looking to have a new HVAC system installed, we’re on-call and ready to assist you. So if you’re in need of an HVAC installation, don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule an inspection! Our HVAC installation experts will check your ductwork, measure, check wire sizes, and more before making recommendations to ensure maximum efficiency and comfort. Call us at 561-295-1763 or contact our HVAC installation team online by clicking here.