Winter can be a wild time for home humidity – as fluctuations in outdoor humidity come head-to-head with home insulation (or lack thereof). Some homeowners report a significant dip in relative humidity (RH), while others suffer through elevated RHs. 

The sources of improper humidity vary significantly from home to home. Improper insulation (or leaky, single-paned windows) can propagate surface moisture; excess humidifying activities like boiling water or taking long showers (a must in the cold weather!) can be the culprit; swings in outdoor humidity certainly have an appreciable impact, and more. 

But this blog post isn’t here to diagnose the root of your problem; it’s here to help. If you notice an overly dry or moist home environment this winter, here are a few actions to take. 

Open Opposing Windows for Cross-Ventilation

Sometimes, all your home needs to regulate its RH is some ventilation. Often, homeowners shy away from cross-ventilation during winter because they don’t want to let the cold weather inside. That’s understandable. But a little ventilation can go a long way. 

Especially if you plan on generating moisture by boiling water, braising foods in the oven, taking long showers or even hanging wet clothes inside, it’s best practice to cross-ventilate. For a few minutes at a time during the warmest part of the day, open two opposing windows to welcome a cross breeze. 

Invest in a Hygrometer and Dehumidifier/Humidifier

The first step in controlling moisture is understanding it. And to do that, you need to measure and adjust. Measuring RH is relatively straightforward; consider investing in a home hygrometer, which accurately reads the relative humidity in whatever room you place it. 

Next, dial in the RH using either a dehumidifier or a humidifier. The ideal RH for a home is between 30% and 40% in the winter. 

Protect Sensitive Items with Two-Way Moisture Control Packs

Certain home items are particularly susceptible to humidity fluctuations. These include luxury items like cigars and other smoked items (we won’t delve too far into it), and musical instruments like guitars. 

To protect these valuable items, house them in a humidor to inoculate them against RH fluctuations. Pop a few Boveda packets inside the humidor to dial in the ideal RH; these salt-water solution packs draw and emit moisture to maintain a consistent RH, keeping your sensitive belongings safe. 

Talk to Specialists about Persistent Problems

Lastly, if tweaking your humidity with a machine and/or cross-ventilation isn’t working, you’re likely dealing with a systemic problem. In these cases, talk to a specialist. Consider speaking with professionals in this order: 

  • Certified Home Inspectors: These all-around home specialists can help you pinpoint the source of your RH woes. 
  • HVAC Specialists: HVAC troubles are a common culprit for improper humidity. Based on what the home inspector thinks, you should follow up with an HVAC professional. 
  • Window and Door Experts: Windows and doors are another everyday source of improper humidity. Talk to manufacturers about replacing single-glazed windows with two- or three-paned alternatives buffered with argon gas. 

Hopefully, these simple tips guide you toward a more liveable, mold-free and warp-free home this winter.