What Should the Humidity Be in Your House?

May 10, 2024

People tend to diligently manage the heating and cooling systems in their homes each day for optimal comfort, but they rarely consider the humidity levels. To create a comfortable and healthy living space, regulating indoor humidity is just as vital as managing temperature. But what is the ideal humidity level?

This guide explores the importance of regulating humidity, the problems caused by inappropriate humidity levels, and how to achieve and maintain a perfect balance. Read on to understand how to ideally manage your home humidity levels.


What Is Humidity And Why Is It Important?

The amount of water vapor in the air is known as humidity. This concentration of water vapor can vary based on both temperature and air pressure, and is measured on a scale called Relative Humidity (RH), with 0% meaning the air is completely dry, and 100% meaning the air is completely saturated.

Humidity can play a pivotal role in the comfort and health of your home environment, both for the home's integrity itself as well as the health of its occupants. For the body, humidity levels can have a significant effect on respiratory health and comfort. Dry air can exacerbate respiratory issues, cause dry skin, irritate nasal passages, and increase susceptibility to colds and respiratory infections. On the other hand, adequate humidity can promote mucous membrane moisture, essential in protecting against airborne pathogens and allergens.

Humidity also affects the durability and longevity of your home. Too little humidity can lead to shrinkage and cracking in wood furniture, floors, and even musical instruments, while too much humidity can cause wallpaper peeling, paint blistering, and formation of mold and mildew. Maintaining optimal humidity levels can help preserve not only the structural soundness of your home but also the condition of your most precious belongings.

What Happens When Humidity Levels Are Not Ideal?

Both excessive and insufficient humidity pose distinct difficulties that may impact your well-being, comfort, and the structural soundness of your house. Below we'll dive into a few of these potential issues.

Problems Caused by Excessive Humidity

Mold and Mildew Growth: High humidity creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew to thrive. In addition to causing structural and furniture damage, these fungi also pose serious health risks, particularly for those with allergies or respiratory issues.

Pest Infestations: Moist environments are conducive to the growth of pests including cockroaches, dust mites, and silverfish. In addition to being an annoyance, these bugs also can cause diseases and trigger allergic reactions.

Structural Damage: Excessive moisture can lead to the warping of wood, peeling wallpaper, and other damage that can compromise the integrity and aesthetic of your home.

Uncomfortable Living Conditions: Too much humidity makes the air feel stuffy and warmer than it actually is, leading to discomfort and an over-reliance on air cooling, both of which raise energy expenses.

Problems Caused by Low Humidity

Dry Skin and Irritated Airways: Dry air can exacerbate respiratory disorders like asthma and allergies by removing moisture from the skin and mucous membranes, resulting in dry, itchy skin and sore throats.

Increased Susceptibility to Illness: Low humidity levels dry out the lining of the respiratory tract, making you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria that may result in increased incidences of colds, flu, and other infections.

Damage to Wooden Structures: Dry air can cause wood to shrink and crack. This covers anything from furnishings to hardwood floors to musical instruments to the framing of your house.

Static Electricity: Low humidity levels often lead to a rise in static electricity, which at its best can be mildly annoying but can become potentially harmful to electronic devices.

Ideal Humidity Level Ratios

Now that we've learned about the adverse effects of improper humidity levels, you may ask: “What is the optimal humidity level I should keep inside my home?”

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that an optimal indoor relative humidity level is between 30% and 50%. This range provides an environment that is comfortable for most people, while balancing the need to avoid problems brought by too much or too little moisture in the air. However, some research advocates for a slightly higher range of 40% to 60%. In any case, a common consensus is that indoor humidity levels should not exceed 60%.

To ensure that your home stays within this ideal range, it is important to regularly measure humidity levels. A hygrometer, which comes in digital or analog forms, can help you by monitoring the moisture levels in the air at any given time so you can make adjustments accordingly.

How to Achieve Ideal Home Humidity Levels

Now we know the answer to the optimal indoor humidity range, so let’s delve into how to maintain this ideal range:

Use a Hygrometer

Start by measuring the current humidity levels in your home using a hygrometer or thermo-hygrometer. These simple devices are easy to purchase and provide accurate real-time humidity readings to help you determine if adjustments are needed to achieve optimal humidity.


Employ Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers

Depending on your needs, either a humidifier or dehumidifier can be instrumental in balancing your home humidity levels.
Humidifiers: They add moisture to the air, which is especially helpful during the dry winter months or in arid dry climates.
Dehumidifiers: They remove excess moisture from the air, perfect for damp, humid climates or especially in basements where moisture tends to collect.


Utilize Air Conditioners

Air conditioners not only cool your house, but also reduce humidity by extracting water from the air. During hot, humid summers, an air conditioner can help maintain a comfortable and healthy indoor temperature.

Ventilation Improvements

Proper ventilation is key in managing humidity levels.
Exhaust Fans: Install exhaust fans in high-moisture areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms to help expel humid air outside and prevent moisture buildup.
Air Vents: Ensure that air vents are unblocked to improve air circulation throughout your home.

Fix Leaks and Water Intrusion

Check for and repair any leaks in your plumbing or roofing, and ensure there are no water intrusions into the foundation of your house. Moisture entering your home from these sources can significantly increase indoor humidity levels.

Use Weatherstripping and Caulking

Seal windows, doors, and other openings with weatherstripping or caulking to prevent outside moisture from coming in, especially during humid weather conditions.


Knowing “what my home humidity levels should be” and achieving those levels can profoundly impact your comfort and health. As we’ve explored, ideal humidity levels typically range between 30% and 50%, preventing the problems associated with humidity that's too high or too low. From employing humidifiers and dehumidifiers to simple lifestyle changes, there are numerous ways to manage your home’s humidity. It is through taking proactive steps towards regulating humidity that you can easily enhance your living conditions and protect your health and home from the adverse effects of improper humidity levels.


Does AC help with humidity?

Yes, air conditioners (AC) reduce humidity levels indoors. They work by removing warm air from your space and cooling it. During this process, moisture is also extracted from the air, which lowers humidity levels.

What temperature should I keep in my house to prevent mold?

To prevent mold growth, it’s recommended to keep the indoor temperature between 68°F to 72°F (20°C to 22°C). This temperature range helps inhibit mold growth while maintaining a comfortable living environment.

At what humidity should I use a dehumidifier?

A dehumidifier should be used when indoor humidity levels continuously exceed 50%. This level of humidity can promote the growth of mold, mildew, and dust mites. A dehumidifier helps maintain an optimal humidity level, generally recommended to be between 30% and 50%, ensuring a healthier and more comfortable environment.