What Causes Low Humidity In a House?

To understand what leads to low humidity in a house, you first need to know what humidity is. And why it’s such a hot topic of discussion for many homeowners.

Humidity is nothing but the amount of water vapor that exists in the air. And as you guessed, low humidity is the condition where the water vapor level drops dangerously low.

Now that may not seem to be too much of a problem. However, moisture is essential for healthy living.

But it has to be the right amount because too much or too little of it can trigger health problems. Here’s more about what causes low humidity in a house and its consequences.

What Causes Low Humidity In a House

What Causes Low Humidity In a House

During winter, the humidity levels usually drop, and the air loses moisture and becomes dry. Low humidity, or low relative humidity, is the amount of water in the air compared to the total amount it can contain at a specific temperature.

So 90% of relative humidity in summer leaves you sweaty. However, the same 90% of relative humidity in winter leads to air that’s much dryer than it usually is. 

Causes For Low Indoor Humidity

With outdoor low humidity levels in winter,  the humidity levels in the house soon drop too. It’s because cold air contains much less moisture than warm air.

And when cold air enters the house, you tend to put on the heater to warm the home. Unfortunately, this heated, dry cold air reduces the atmosphere’s overall relative humidity levels.

It’s not just the weather.

Even excess air conditioning or the use of a dehumidifier can lead to low humidity in a house. It’s because air conditioners, like a heat exchanger, dry indoor air while cooling.

In the case of a dehumidifier, it may extract too much moisture from the air, mainly when used for extended periods.

What Is The Ideal Indoor Humidity Level?

When you speak about good indoor humidity levels, it has to be the healthiest range of relative humidity for humans to live in. It’s described as ‘ range’ because there are so many factors determining it.

The exact level depends on factors like temperature, season, and climate zone.

According to the environmental protection agency (EPA), it is always better to maintain below 60% indoor relative humidity. While this is the threshold, the ideal range spans between 40-50%, with the lowest being 30% and the highest below 60%.

This range also largely depends on the temperature.

Symptoms Of Low Humidity Levels In The House

After learning the causes of low humidity at home, you should know its consequences. It’s because low relative humidity can lead to poor health conditions like dry and itchy skin and red, sore, irritated, and itchy eyes.

1. Poor Sinus Health

It’s also very common to find people living in low humidity suffering from poor sinus health. Their sinus ends up very dry due to reduced atmospheric moisture and more susceptible to various diseases and allergens.

2. Inflamed Respiratory Tract Membrane Lining

Besides, the low moisture can, with time, inflame the respiratory tract membrane lining. As this is a sensitive membrane, the inflammation leads to more problems while increasing the chances of infections like a cold or flu.

What’s worse, the reduced humidity helps the flu virus survive longer and spread faster.

3. Low Humidity Headache

Don’t worry if you suffer from frequent headaches. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), headaches are the most common nervous system disorder where about 50% of adults experience it at least once a year.

However, did you know that low humidity could be a potential cause for it?

Yes, while stress tops the chart in factors responsible for causing headaches, low humidity is also another cause.

Low humidity can lead to nervous disruption, and its prolonged exposure can result in headaches. The headache starts with nasal dryness, where the mucus membrane dries out. It soon develops cracks and reaches a point where it also gets irritated and inflamed.

Due to the inflammation, it’s difficult for blood to flow at the standard rate through the sinus cavities. In turn, it triggers a pounding headache.

Low humidity can also trigger headaches by promoting the existence of repulsive chemicals in the atmosphere.

Here’s how it happens.

Everyday household items like paints, new materials, and furniture contain toxic residues of the chemicals used in the manufacturing process.

These chemical molecules usually end up trapped on the surfaces. The low humidity leads to the evaporation of these toxic residual chemicals into gaseous form and the air.

The human body ends up easily breathing and inhaling these chemicals. Regular inhaling of these chemicals can lead to headaches and other health problems.

Effects On Your Home

And the effects of low humidity don’t only affect you.

Low humidity also takes its toll on your home and structure. It sucks up any available moisture found in your woods and cracks and therefore splinters and shrinks wood.

For example, it damages anything made of wood like your floors and furniture. The damage is not only irreversible but expensive to repair or replace.

Besides, your paint and wallpaper dry out, leading to peeling and chipping.

And most importantly, dry air is the perfect atmosphere for static electricity. So don’t be surprised if you experience a slight jolt whenever you touch a roommate or something like the doorknob or any fabric.

How To Fix Low Humidity In My House?

The good news is that you can improve your home’s humidity levels by:

1. Showering With The Door Open

Leaving the shower door open to introduce moisture into the atmosphere. If you use a hot bath, letting the water stand for a while increases humidity.

But be careful with both options if you have small children or pets around.

2. Boiling Water

You can manually introduce moisture into the air by boiling water on the stove and your slow cooker. Of course, they only provide short-term solutions and are not ideal for the long run.

3. Drink Tea Instead Of Coffee

Drinking tea instead of coffee helps because the extra steam while brewing helps moisten your facial skin.

4. Indoor Drying of Clothes

Hang your clothes indoors where possible instead of using the dryer. It not only increases your home humidity levels but also helps reduce your electricity bill.

5. Have Some Houseplants

Houseplants help because they release moisture from their leaves and stem into the atmosphere as long as you take good care of them.

6. Leave Water Bowls

Leaving water bowls around the house also helps. The water evaporates to increase your atmospheric moisture levels.

7. Invest In a Humidifier

The best solution to the problem of low relative humidity is using a humidifier. Humidifiers help by breaking down water into tiny droplets or mist using wick filters flown by a fan or ultrasonic vibrations.

As humidifiers come in various types, capacities, sizes, and kinds, you can’t buy just any humidifier for your home. You need to invest in a humidifier ideal for your specific needs and home conditions.

And there are many factors to consider, like mist output capacity, room size, and tank size, to make a choice.

Related articles:
5 Best Humidifiers for 1,000 Square Feet
The Best Humidifiers for Hard Water Without White Dust
Do I Need A Wardrobe Dehumidifier


In short, you shouldn’t take low humidity lightly.

It can cause poor health conditions and damage your home structure. You have to work at improving your home’s relative humidity levels with the topmost priority.

As mentioned earlier, the healthy humidity range is around 40-50%. While a slight increase or decrease is permissible, humidity levels should never fall below 30%.

A lower than 30% humidity level means the air is dehydrated, triggering various health problems.

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