Dry vs Humid Air: How Does it Affect us?
Australia is a country of many climates; some parts face harsh and arid conditions, and others experience tropical or subtropical weather. Some parts see the best and worst of both worlds, depending on the season. Because of this, air fluctuates from hot to cold, humid to dry, which can really mess with us and our health.
To achieve all-year comfort and combat our sweltering summers and chilly winters, air-conditioning is a must have necessity for many. We know that cool, humid air allows us to breathe easier in summer months, and dry air is suitable for helping us keep warm in cooler months. But how do each of these affect us? And which is better for heating and cooling in our homes?
Why should you use dry and humid air settings?
Reading the manual of your air conditioning unit may not be the page turner you had in mind; however, understanding when to use each setting will allow you to make the most of your air conditioning, while also helping you save energy and money. While most know how to set up their air conditioner to run in its usual hot or cold mode, many aren’t aware that some modern split and ducted systems can actually be programmed to dehumidify air. Dehumidification or ‘dry mode’ is a setting that can be activated to extract moisture from the air, leaving it feeling cooler for longer as the temperature is better regulated in dry air. On the other hand, air with a higher moisture content will hold warmth better, so running a humidifier in conjunction with your air conditioner in winter can help your home stay warm.
When to use Cool vs Dry Mode
With so many settings – such as cool, dry, and fan – it can get a bit confusing knowing which mode to switch to on a stinking hot day. Understandably, most people just throw on ‘cool’ and think nothing more of it, but this isn’t the most economical way to run your air conditioner in summer. As mentioned, moisture in the air holds warmth – simply running ‘cool’ mode in humid air means that your air conditioner will have to work harder for longer to maintain its temperature. To cool down your home faster, use ‘dry mode’ on hot and rainy days, or on humid days where humidity is above 50% (you want the indoor humidity somewhere between 30–50%).
The Detrimental Effects of Dry vs Humid Air
Humidity is an unavoidable part of the Australian lifestyle, making us swelter both in warm summer days and nights. Not only does this make us uncomfortable, but a rise in humidity levels in the home isn’t good for a number of reasons. Besides property damage, a rise in excess humidity and air moisture can even lead to health risks for you and your family.
Health Concerns from Humidity Include:
- Allergens such as dust mites, mould and mildew flourishing.
- Heat rash from difficulty in cooling down, as sweat isn’t evaporated quick enough.
- Restlessness and fatigue as you aren’t able to get decent rest – your body needs to cool down for sleep.
- Growth of mould that is left unchecked mould can lead to respiratory problems.
In summer, keeping cool and dry is a priority for health reasons; however, in winter adding back some of that moisture with a humidifier can also be beneficial as air that is too dry can also have detrimental effects.
Health Concerns from Dry Air Include:
- Dry, itchy and irritated skin and eyes which need moisturisation
- Dry and irritated nasal and respiratory passages – this can lead to a sore throat or trigger asthma.
- Increased risk of cold and flu
So, Which is Better?
Ultimately, it depends on the season, and the climate in your area. In the winter months, when air may be dryer, it may be worth investing in a humidifier to run with your air conditioner (in its heating setting) if you’ve been noticing such symptoms as those listed above. In a hotter climate or summer months, especially in Australia, dehumidification is a must. As we’re heading into summer in Australia, keeping air in our homes nice and dry is a priority. It leads to certain benefits.
The Benefits of Dry Air
1) Healthier Home and Family
As mentioned, humidity levels between 30 to 50% are the safest and most ideal for your home. This is because it’s not too dry for your nasal passages to become irritated, but not too moist to cause mould to grow. This keeps your family members protected from many adverse health effects. This is especially important if you have any family members with any allergies or respiratory issues. If you have family members suffering from these conditions, Air-Rite offers commercial and residential air conditioning services that can help combat these allergens with the right system for your building.
2) Clean, Odour-free Air
Alongside keeping your home under control of allergens, dry air conditioning can clean the air, eliminating odours that are frequently associated with mould and mildew. As moist air can hold more odour particles, extracting the moisture from the air can keep air crisper and fresher.
3) Chance of Property Damage is Decreased
Similar to your home being vulnerable to mould, excess moisture can also harm your clothes, furniture, towels and linen. Even your electronics can be damaged, with mould capable of causing rust or corrosion.
4) Lower Energy, Meaning Lower Energy Bills
With compressors running at a slower rate in dry air mode, this setting requires less energy to run, saving you money on your energy bills. Considering how long we all run the air con over summer, this is a great money-saving tip!
5) Increased Comfort
Feeling sweaty, tired, or musty due to high humidity levels? Dry mode is the go-to mode equipped in tackling humidity levels that make it difficult for you to cool down and stay comfortable.
How Does Air Humidity Affect Your Home?
Air humidity (or lack thereof) not only affects our health, but it also has some impacts on our home space. Air that is both too dry or too humid can affect the structure of our homes. Dry air tends to absorb moisture from whatever it can – including the structure of your home. As your house dries, you may notice more cracks or creaking (especially in those hardwood floors). At the other end of the spectrum, moisture may get into the structure and cause warping or malformation (depending on the extent of the humidity and age of your home). For the sake of your home’s longevity, it’s worth investing in the right split or ducted system to condition the air in your home and keep it at the right humidity level.
Getting the Right System
With the best of Fujitsu, Mitsubishi and Toshiba systems, Air Rite can pair you with the right residential to commercial sized unit for your building. With summer just around the corner, there’s no better time to invest in a new air conditioning system. Browse Air Rite’s product range today or contact one of our friendly team members to ask more about our products and services.