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Energy efficiency for humid days W


Energy efficiency for humid days By Anne Prince, NRECA


hy does a 95°F day in northeast Oklahoma feel hoƩ er than the


same temperature in Arizona? Why do dry heat and humid heat feel so diī erent, and how does this aī ect your strategy for home energy eĸ ciency? While there are many common ways to achieve energy eĸ ciency across all warmer climates, there are some important diī erences that vary by geography.


Heat and humidity vs dry heat Generally speaking, when there is more moisture in the air, the temperature feels hoƩ er than it actually is because moist air is closer to saturaƟ on than dry air. On a humid day, when the air is saturated with water, evaporaƟ on is much slower. Simply put, high humidity will make the air feel hoƩ er while low humidity will make the temperature feel cooler.


Heat reducƟ on is priority one In warm climates, the majority of energy used to make the home feel comfortable is spent on home air condiƟ oning and cooling. The ⇒ rst priority is heat reducƟ on. However, in humid areas, moisture reducƟ on is nearly as important as lowering the indoor air temperature. If a home has too much moisture, indoor air quality can be comprised and mold and mildew problems can develop.


Energy eĸ ciency for hot and humid climates The ⇒ rst line of energy defense is to ensure that your home is properly insulated and sealed in order to keep the heat and humidity that surround the house from geƫ ng inside. Leaky ducts, windows and doors can cause


6 - NE Connection


energy loss, making the HVAC system work much harder to wring the moisture out of the air and exacerbate potenƟ al indoor air quality issues. Homes that are “sealed Ɵ ght” are easier to keep cool and dry. *966184*


Next, make sure your HVAC system is the right size. The U.S. Department of Energy esƟ mates that most current residenƟ al systems are oversized. If your unit is too big, you will pay higher energy bills, and you won’t get the eĸ ciency level or comfort you want and expect. It is also likely that the unit is “short cycling,” constantly turning


meets or exceeds the SEER (seasonal energy eĸ ciency raƟ o) for the capacity requirement, such as Energy Star-rated systems.


DIY humidity reducƟ on There are some basic steps you can take to lower the humidity in your home to help make it feel cooler and more comfortable. Start by reducing the humidity you are already producing. The kitchen and bathrooms are the biggest contributors to higher humidity levels. Check to ensure that your range hood is ducted to the outside, as recirculaƟ ng range hoods are not eī ecƟ ve in controlling moisture (or odors). When cooking, and especially when boiling water, run the vent fan. In the bathroom, run the vent fan when bathing or showering. Keep the fan on up to 30 minutes aŌ er you have ⇒ nished in order to eliminate the residual moisture in the air.


oī and on, never achieving opƟ mum eĸ ciency. When the unit runs in short bursts, it will not operate long enough to eliminate all of the humidity in your home. Damp, cool indoor air creates a muggy atmosphere that can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. This can be a parƟ cular concern for those who suī er from allergies, as many allergens thrive in damp condiƟ ons.


If you are considering a new HVAC system, consult with a reputable HVAC professional to help you choose equipment that is the correct size and


If you can reduce the indoor humidity level, you may be able to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature with a higher thermostat seƫ ng and ceiling fans. The air movement from the ceiling fan will create


a “wind chill” eī ect, lowering the temperature and increasing comfort. Finally, check guƩ ers and downspouts for leaks or blockage. If rainwater leaks out and saturates the ground surrounding your home, some of the moisture can eventually migrate into your house.


For more informaƟ on on energy


eĸ ciency, visit our website at www.neelectric.com. z


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