Russell's Heating & AC
Jul 16 2018

“It’s a Dry Heat” Isn’t Always Good News!

Russell's Heating and Air ConditioningWelcome to another summer in the desert region of Southern California. You know what that means: scorching hot temperatures. A cool day might drop into the low 90s. Hot days may climb above 110°F. We already had one of 110°+ days last week. And we can expect these conditions to remain with us through September.

Ah, but it’s a dry heat, right? We’re much better off than someplace like Florida where they’ve got all that icky humidity making the heat feel substantially worse.

Well, yes and no. As we’ll talk about below, dry conditions do make it easier to tolerate hot temperatures. But it’s better to have humidity levels balanced between too humid and too dry, since extremely dry air causes trouble as well.

Relative Humidity and Comfort

When we talk about humidity, we’re talking specifically about relative humidity, a method of measuring humidity. Relative humidity is different from absolute humidity, which is the mass of water vapor divided by the mass of dry air in a volume of air at a given temperature. In other words, the hotter the air, the more water vapor can be in it. Relative humidity is the ratio of the current absolute humidity to the highest possible absolute humidity, expressed as a percentage. If relative humidity reaches 100%, the air is saturated with water vapor and can’t hold more. Most of the time, this means rain.

What we call “high humidity” when it comes to comfort is above 50%. Sweating is one of the ways that our bodies keep cool, but sweat won’t evaporate easily when the air is highly saturated with water. This makes our bodies feel hotter than the actual temperature. When humidity is low (below 30%), sweat evaporates easily and our bodies cool off faster.

For most people, 45% relative humidity is the best level for comfort: this is the goal for humidifiers and dehumidifiers, which we’re about to get into.

The Dry Air Problem

Deserts are dry. That’s how they’re defined. Did you know that Antarctica is considered a desert? Yes, even with all that ice and temperatures far below freezing, Antarctica is one of driest places on earth, and therefore it’s a desert.

We live in the more common view or what a desert is, which means a place both hot and dry. Such low humidity may aid us in keeping cooler, but also present problems:

  • It causes eye and skin irritation because too much moisture escapes from them.
  • It can make it extremely easy for illnesses to spread because mucus and sinuses membranes dry up, and they’re an important defense against catching cold and flu bugs.
  • It can cause damage to a home and personal possessions. Moisture drawn out of wooden surfaces can cause cracking, and it can also damage books and musical instruments.

Balance Your Indoor Humidity

We strongly recommend any home in the area look into installing a whole-house humidifier. A properly installed humidifier will create balanced humidity (the magic 45%) without making conditions too humid. If you need other indoor air quality solutions in Cathedral City, CA or the surrounding areas (such as whole-house dehumidifier for other parts of the year), you can speak to our indoor air quality specialists.

For exceptional customer service, please give our office a call. Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning is here for your summer comfort!

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