Have you ever wondered why the same temperature on your air conditioner may feel different at various times of the day or changing seasons?
The main problem with traditional ACs is that they only allow setting a single temperature, foregoing other crucial factors that may significantly affect how we feel. According to ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), aside from temperature, all of these components make up our thermal comfort: Indoor Humidity, Thermal Radiation (Sunlight) and Time of Day. Another super important factor that isn't on ASHRAE's list but is definitely a big player, is Outdoor Weather. Different combinations and levels of each factor create a shift in our environment, and ultimately in how we feel.
To make things a bit easier to understand, we’ve created the Factor Series - focusing on a big one for our first installment: Humidity.
What is humidity, why does it matter and how can I control it?
Humidity is essentially the amount of water vapor in the air, and turns out it has a huge effect on our environment; did you know that without water vapor, Earth would be 31°C colder? That means we would all spend our lives in ski jackets.
When it comes to our air conditioners, most of the energy they guzzle is directed towards lowering the humidity level, no matter the mode you use. Humidity also directly influences our everyday lives; at high humidity and temperature, for instance, our sweat has a hard time evaporating, causing us heavy thermal discomfort or even heat strokes!
Monitoring your indoor humidity conditions and knowing the right levels can ensure your comfort and health, as well as help you save some costs on the electricity bill.
How does humidity affect temperature in different scenarios?
While it’s true that humidity normally tends to get worse in Summer, since hot air retains more water, we need to consider humidity year-round.
High humidity in Winter can make it feel colder than it actually is because cold, moist air causes heat to be drawn out of our bodies rapidly; this leaves us shivering and uncomfortable even if our AC is set to a supposedly comfortable temperature. For example, the room temperature may be 22℃, but due to high relative humidity, it will actually feel more like 18℃. The level of humidity can greatly affect how we feel, creating a discrepancy of about 4℃ in different weather scenarios.
Another big problem with humidity and how it affects us has to do with apparent temperature and sleep; apparent temperature is the temperature we perceive, caused by the combined effects of air temperature, relative humidity and wind speed. When we sleep under less-than-ideal humidity conditions, we end up paying a high price. As shown in an experiment conducted in Dokkyo School of Medicine, high humidity levels can have a negative effect on the quality of sleep because they prevent us from transferring body heat to the surrounding environment, which then causes us to feel hot and constantly wake up!
How can I control humidity at home and what level should I maintain?
According to ASHRAE, the recommended level of humidity to maintain is between 30-60%; anything below or above this level will have adverse effects on our health and comfort. Constantly monitoring the humidity level at home is a bit tricky, and requires placing sensors or using a smart device that will be able to collect this data; some Smart AC controllers are able to do so, and then connect to your AC to help you better control your environment.
To quickly summarize exactly what could happen in either scenario, check out the infographic below:
What else can happen to me or my home if I don't control humidity?
As it turns out, you’re not the only one who is going to suffer from the carnage of humidity - your home will too. Damage to your belongings is very common and normally happens very gradually, so it’s easy to overlook. As humidity builds up, mold and mildew will appear and potentially cause damage to art, clothes, books, furniture and towels - to name a few!
Using dehumidifiers or turning on the AC may prove to be useful, but we’d still have a hard time tracking the exact level to ensure nothing at home gets ruined, not to mention the potentially large energy waste of just blasting the AC all day long.
By now, it’s pretty clear to see how humidity plays a huge role in our comfort, well-being and overall happiness. Although we may have different room temperature preferences, humid days can quickly make us feel uncomfortable and dry days can make us sick, dry and allergic.
Finding the balance and being able to control and maintain the optimal holistic humidity is the golden ticket we’re all searching for - so if you’re convinced, now's the time to take charge of your comfort and start looking for smart solutions with a multi-factor approach to ensure your home stays in the best shape!