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Improved IAQ and Lower Heating Costs Among the Benefits of Humidification

Heating season is approaching, and once again it is time to talk about the various benefits of building humidification. In any typical year, a properly-sized, well-maintained humidification system provides numerous health, productivity, and economical benefits during the cold, dry months of winter. This winter, however, with no end to the pandemic in sight, indoor relative humidity (RH) has become much more important. ASHRAE and the CDC currently recommend maintaining RH levels between 40-60% to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Air that is properly humidified is healthier than dry air. Heating systems rob indoor air of humidity, causing mucous membranes in the skin, throat, nasal passages, and sinuses to dry out. This inhibits our ability to filter out viruses, bacteria and other pollutants and leaves us susceptible to infection and illness. Regarding COVID-19, ASHRAE says that while the novel coronavirus is “still being studied”, extensive past research has proven that dry air below 40% RH can reduce healthy immune system function, increase transmission of some airborne viruses and droplets, and increase the survival rate of pathogens.

Humidified air is more comfortable than dry air. Not only does dry air cause the discomfort of dry skin and mucous membranes, it feels colder than humidified air. When air is at the proper RH, the rate of moisture evaporation on the skin is reduced, making us feel warmer and more comfortable at a lower temperature. This enables lower thermostat settings and results in reduced heating costs. Other benefits include dissipation of static electricity, reduced interference with computers and office equipment, reduction of dust levels, and prevention of drying and cracking of wood furniture, fixtures and flooring.

There are various types of humidification systems available for different environments and applications. Most are derived from either steam (boiler steam, clean steam, canister steam, etc.) or cold water (centrifugal, ultrasonic, atomized, fogging, etc.). Each has unique advantages, drawbacks, and maintenance considerations, and they vary in energy efficiency. MSC can provide expert selection guidance, installation, preventive maintenance, troubleshooting and repairs for all types of humidification systems.


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