What is the ideal humidity level for your house?
At HVAC.com, our writers create solutions that put you in control of your HVAC system. Our product reviews and recommendations are researched and backed by real buyers and industry experts, not dictated by our partners.
Creating a space with the ideal indoor humidity level means your family is more comfortable and you’re protecting your home. Most people find a relative humidity level between 30 and 50% is most comfortable.
Ideal humidity for home
Between 30 – 50% humidity
Seasonal changes and the climate where you live will play a role in your home’s humidity level, but the ideal atmosphere is below 50% humidity.
As the moisture level in the air increases, you may begin to feel hot and sticky. An increase in moisture can also affect certain health conditions, like asthma, making it difficult to breathe.
When the air is dry, meaning the humidity level is too low, you may experience dry skin, an irritated throat, or itchy eyes. A lack of moisture can also cause your wood floors or furniture to crack. A simple tool can help you avoid the home and health challenges that arise from too much or too little humidity.
Need help with indoor humidity? Book an appointment with a local HVAC technician.
Measure indoor humidity
If you want to measure your home’s humidity you’ll need a hygrometer. A hygrometer is used to measure the humidity level in your house. This small tool can be placed in a living space that’s a good distance away from a bathroom or kitchen where moisture is created. You’ll also want to avoid doors and windows to ensure the reading isn’t skewed by rain, sunlight, or other weather conditions.
A digital hygrometer is easy to find and will monitor your home’s moisture level so you can be proactive about creating a relaxing environment. We like this ThermoPro digital hygrometer because it’s easy to read and reports your home’s indoor temperature and humidity level. Plus, the comfort indicator will let you know if you’re approaching a temperature or humidity level outside your desired settings.
FAQs on humidity levels
What is the recommended humidity level inside a home?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends a humidity level between 30-50% for comfortability, and the Environmental Protection Agency makes the same recommendation. This means that the air contains 30-50% of the maximum possible moisture that it otherwise could. Keeping it in this range helps prevent the growth of harmful mold and mildew.
What causes high humidity levels?
The top causes of humidity in the home are showering, boiling water, and drying clothes inside. If you often have high humidity in your home that is not caused by any of these, you might need to have your home’s ventilation and insulation inspected.
Connect me with an HVAC expert to check my home’s humidity.
What is relative humidity?
Relative humidity refers to the amount of water in the air compared to the amount the air can hold at a given temperature. If the relative humidity is 50%, the air is only holding about half the amount of moisture it’s capable of holding at that temperature.
How do I increase the humidity in my home?
One of the most effective ways to increase the humidity level in the house is with a whole-house humidifier or a portable humidifier, depending on your needs. If you live in a dry climate, like many states in the Southwest Region of the U.S., a whole-house humidifier is a good investment to consider.
How do I decrease the humidity in my home?
To lower your home’s humidity level, you need to reduce the amount of moisture in the air. A dehumidifier is likely the best way to accomplish this task if you regularly battle high indoor humidity. You’ll also want to change the filter in your HVAC system as recommended (usually every 60-90 days) and have the unit inspected each year for needed maintenance.
Ideal indoor humidity levels by outdoor temperature
The ideal humidity level for your home may change as the seasons transition and outdoor temperatures fluctuate. The chart below offers a good place to start if you’re trying to create a comfortable atmosphere.
|Outdoor temperature||Optimal indoor humidity level|
|Higher than 50°F||Max. 45%|
|25°F to 50°F||Max. 40%|
|0°F to 25°F||30% – 40%|
|-20°F to 0°F||20% – 30%|
|Below -20°F||15% – 20%|
Maintaining ideal relative humidity levels in the home
The best tools to keep relative humidity at ideal levels in your home year-round are whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers. These systems are integrated into your home’s heating and cooling system and automatically adjust their performance based on the humidity level in your home. Utilize a humidifier in winter months when air is naturally drier, and a dehumidifier in the summer when air naturally carries more moisture.
Learn more about installing a whole-home humidifier.
Portable humidifiers can help add moisture to a room, alleviating dry skin and preventing damage to wood floors or furniture. Our top-rated humidifier for a large room is the Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier. You’ll get 60 hours of operation time from this unit when it’s set to the lowest mist setting. The Levoit humidifier modifies the humidity level in rooms up to 753 square feet, but if you have a smaller space, check out our list of best portable humidifiers.
If your home often feels hot and sticky, a dehumidifier may help. The FRIGIDAIRE Energy Star 50-pint Dehumidifier removes up to 50 pints of water from the air in your home each day. The automatic shut-off and full tank alert will let you know when the 2-gallon capacity bucket needs emptying. Pair this device with a digital hygrometer to monitor and maintain a comfortable environment in your home.
Top humidifiers and dehumidifiers
Levoit LV600HH Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier
- Sleep mode option that turns off light display and triggers sensors for detecting the optimal level of humidity
- Spiral air duct technology that turns water into fine mist without fogging the room or wetting the floor
- 2-year buyer’s assurance and lifetime support from Levoit
FRIGIDAIRE Energy Star 50-pint Dehumidifier
- Eliminates extra moisture that cause mold and mildew
- Continuous operation when near a drain
- Control of exact percentage of humidity in your room that gives you effortless control
- Full tank alert system and auto shut-off capabilities
Problems caused by indoor humidity
It’s fairly easy to identify when the humidity in your home is uncomfortably high. The air feels heavy and sticky, you may find it difficult to sleep peacefully, or an odor of dampness or mildew can form. Unaddressed high humidity levels in your home may result in:
- The growth and spread of mold, mildew, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. These contaminants diminish indoor air quality, causing illness or irritating certain health conditions.
- Damaged drywall, flooring, or subflooring due to mold growth stimulated by excessive moisture.
- Worse or more frequent symptoms for asthma and allergy sufferers.
- Visible condensation on windows and walls that can produce a feeling of mugginess throughout the home.
- Increased energy bills as you turn down the temperature on the thermostat for relief from the humidity.
- Excess moisture promotes the growth and spread of mold, mildew, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. These contaminants diminish indoor air quality, causing illness, and can also cause damage to your home.
- When indoor humidity levels are too high, asthma and allergy sufferers may experience worse or more frequent symptoms.
- High humidity indoors causes the home to feel muggy. You may notice visible condensation on windows and walls. Mugginess can leave you feeling hot and uncomfortable.
Problems caused by low indoor humidity
Dry indoor air can be just as bothersome to your comfort and health as high humidity. Too little moisture may result in:
- Worsening of asthma and allergy symptoms. Cold and flu viruses may spread more quickly, and you may be more prone to sinus infections. You may suffer from dry skin, chapped lips, and dry air passageways.
- Increased energy bills as you crank up the heat to stay warm after the dry air pulls moisture from your skin.
- Cracks and damage to flooring, trim, and even framing around windows and doors. Wood, building materials, and furniture are robbed of their moisture when the air is dry.
Cost to fix indoor humidity level
The cost to regulate the humidity level in your home will vary depending on your situation. For example, if you have a whole-home humidifier that needs to be repaired, you’ll pay $234 on average for the fix.
For a quality portable humidifier or dehumidifier, you’ll pay between $30 and $250, depending on your needs. If, however, you prefer to have a whole-home humidifier system installed, your investment will run $550 on average.
Sort out your home’s humidity issues. Schedule an appointment with a local HVAC pro now.