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Managing Ideal Indoor Humidity Levels During the Summer Months

Managing Ideal Indoor Humidity Levels During the Summer Months

Higher temperatures can hold more moisture than lower temperatures, which is why humidity levels can get out of control in your home during the summer months. 

In this blog we will address the following: 

  • The most comfortable humidity level during the summer months
  • Signs your home is too humid
  • 5 tips to manage humidity levels in your home
  • The benefits of maintaining optimal humidity levels

Let’s dive in. 

What is a Comfortable Humidity Level in The Summer?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends home humidity levels range from 40% to 60% year around. The exact humidity level that provides both comfort and maximum benefits for you and your family will vary depending on personal preferences. 

Home humidity levels should not exceed 60% or fall below 40%. 

When humidity levels exceed 60%, you run the following risks: 

  • Development of mold and bacteria on various surfaces
  • Uncomfortable living conditions
  • Introduction of dust mites, cockroaches, and vermin
  • Home damage including: peeling wall paint, wet insulation, rotting floorboards, and more

When humidity levels fall below 30%, you may encounter the following physical health problems:

  • Dry, itchy throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Increased survival rate of colds and airborne viruses 
  • Dry skin, chapped lips, and increased dandruff

How to Manage Humidity Levels

How to manage humidity levels during the summer months.

During the painstakingly hot summer months, it seems that the day is singularly focused on finding a reprieve from the sun. 

You dash from the front door to the car, you choose the shady side of the street when possible, and the robust foliage of an oversized tree is a much appreciated gift from Mother Nature. 

The absolute last thing you want to experience during the summer months is an unbearable home humidity level. 

Signs Your Home is Too Humid

How do you know if your home humidity levels are too high? 

The best way to monitor home humidity levels is by using a hygrometer, which is an instrument that measures relative humidity (RH) in a particular space. A hygrometer can tell you the RH levels of your home at any given time and comes in handy during the summer and winter months.

If you do not have a hygrometer or a smart thermostat with a built-in humidity reader, there are a few ways to identify high humidity levels in your home:

  • Your home feels muggy or the air feels dense
  • There is condensation on the windows, especially after a shower or cooking a meal
  • Your home smells musty or damp
  • If your hair takes a really long time to dry

6 Tips to Manage Indoor Humidity Levels

Tips to manage home humidity levels during the summer months.

Let’s say your hygrometer reads 50% or higher, or you notice fogging on your window… What do you do?

There are a few easy steps you can take to reduce humidity levels in your home. You can: reduce shower time, open the windows to circulate air, run the fan, move houseplants outdoors, or invest in a dehumidifier. 

Read on for more details.

Run Your AC

The first, most simple solution to indoor humidity levels is to run your AC. Air conditioners naturally remove water vapor or humidity from the air; when the cooled air hits the metal coils located in your unit, any existing humidity condenses on the coil and is drained from the system. As a result, your home humidity levels will decrease. 

As with most aspects of life, you can have too much of a good thing. Despite the elevated humidity levels outdoors, continued use of your air conditioner can zap moisture from the air leaving you with humidity levels well below 40%. 

You can’t very well turn your AC unit off, so what can you do to combat the dry, dehydrated air in your home? A humidifier is a useful tool year round, especially during the summer months. You can use an evaporative humidifier like Canopy to regulate humidity levels in your home and create a healthy environment for you and your family. 

Reduce Shower Time

Americans love showers. In fact, the average length of a shower is just shy of 8 minutes; at 1 shower per day, that is almost 1 hour of showering per week and 48 hours of showering every year, give or take. 

While hot, steamy showers are immensely gratifying, they also contribute significantly to your home humidity levels. If your home humidity levels are already high, you may need to reduce your shower time or opt for cooler showers during the summer months. 

Cold showers have many health benefits including: relieve symptoms of depression, improve metabolic function, improve blood circulation, and fight off certain illnesses. Makes braving the cold seem worth it, huh?

Open the Window

Open a window to regulate humidity levels.

In some cases, your home humidity levels may be slightly or significantly higher than outdoor humidity levels. If this is the case, opening the window may be a quick and easy solution to reduce home humidity levels. 

Manually ventilating your home by opening the windows daily is a good way to reduce air pollution and humidity levels while improving circulation. You should open a window to prevent excess humidity in the following situations:

  • While cooking in the kitchen (especially while boiling water)
  • While running the washer and dryer
  • While taking a hot shower
  • While washing dishes 

Turn on the Fan

A fan is a handy summer appliance that can last for years if properly maintained. 

Fans prevent the build-up of humidity in a particular room by circulating the air. While a fan does not actually remove moisture, it does help to disperse static moisture throughout the room. 

The most effective type of fan is a ceiling fan, which works to improve the air flow throughout a larger space. Standing fans or small, portable fans are also handy to place throughout your home to increase comfortability despite higher humidity levels.  

Move the Plants Outside

Your darling, tender houseplants also feel the effects of higher temperatures during the summer months. In fact, as the temperatures increase, your houseplants release more moisture into the atmosphere through a process called transpiration

Placing your houseplants outside during the summer months is like sending your plants on a vacation to a tropical paradise. Despite placing any medium light plants next to your brightest window, it just isn’t the same as the great outdoors. Most popular houseplants come from tropical locations (think palms, figs, orchids), and they thrive in the heat and humidity of the summer months. 

While your precious indoor plants bring so much beauty to your indoor space, they can greatly benefit from a little trip to your patio. Not to mention, placing your houseplants in a shaded area of your garden, on your patio, or on your front porch can help to slightly reduce humidity levels in your home. 

Invest in a Dehumidifier

If your home humidity levels chronically exceed 50% during the summer months, and you just can’t seem to reduce the humidity in your home with DIY tips and tricks, you may need to invest in a dehumidifier. 

A dehumidifier is a device that removes excess moisture from the air and reduces the overall RH of your home. 

A dehumidifier works by sucking in air from the environment and running it over a cold metal coil located inside the device. The coil condenses the air’s moisture into water droplets, which are discarded into a water tank. 

When using a dehumidifier in your home, you will have to manually discard the accumulated water from the water tank as often as necessary to prevent overflow. 

Benefits of Maintaining Humidity Levels

There are ample benefits to managing humidity levels during the summer months.

Optimal humidity levels in your home have a myriad of benefits to your health and well-being. 

Maintaining healthy humidity levels during the summer months is just as important as increasing humidity during the winter months. A humidity level between 30-50% in the summer months can help you regulate body temperature, prevent damage to the structure of your home, and reduce the chances of developing harmful mold and bacteria. 

In addition, reducing the humidity levels in your home during the heat of the summer can actually save you money. An optimal level of humidity can make your home air feel cooler despite a higher temperature reading on your thermostat. For example, if you set your air conditioner to 74 degrees with a humidity level of 40%, your home air will feel cooler than setting your thermostat to 74 degrees with 55% humidity. 

If you live in a dry climate with lower levels of humidity despite chart-topping temperatures, you can greatly benefit from incorporating a humidifier in your home to increase moisture.

How to Prevent Mold in a Humidifier

How to Prevent Mold in a Humidifier

“Mold” likely evokes mental images of green spots on bread, black crust on bathroom tile, or a fuzzy grey patch on a long gone avocado skin. 

Whatever comes to mind when you think of the word “mold,” it’s certainly not an image that makes you feel warm and cozy. Mold is gross… plain and simple. Mold is a fungus that thrives in the presence of water and oxygen. Since humidifiers operate with a water tank, there is a high chance for humidifier mold growth if you do not regularly  clean your humidifier. 

Mold is present wherever there is water and oxygen.

Good news, though! You can completely avoid humidifier mold if you follow a few, very simple best practices. Bonus: we include a guide to cleaning your humidifier so you can keep your device in tip-top shape.

Do Humidifiers Create Mold?

A common concern when contemplating a humidifier purchase is: does a humidifier create and disperse mold? 

The short answer: a humidifier will not create and disperse mold if you follow basic maintenance and usage guidelines. However, humidifier mold will be a problem if your device is not properly cleaned on a regular basis. 

What Causes Mold in Your Humidifier?

There are a few cases in which humidifier mold can create a potentially hazardous environment for you and your family or loved ones. 

Here are the most common causes of mold in your humidifier:

  • Poor maintenance. Daily wipe down, weekly cleaning, and monthly deep cleaning are recommended to ensure a healthy, clean humidifier device. 
  • Excess humidity above the optimal range of 40% - 60% relative humidity (RH). Humidity levels above 50% create an environment perfect for mold and unwanted vermin. The RH in your home should range from 40% to 60% to ensure maximum health and safety. 
  • Water leakage from the device. Water leakage from your device’s water tank may cause humidifier mold either on the device or on the spaces surrounding your humidifier. 
  • Excessive output with limited space. Using a humidifier with an output of 500 square feet in a 200 square foot room may contribute to humidifier mold. If the output exceeds the space, the walls, curtains, bedding, or any other sitting object in the space can become drenched in excess vapor. 
  • What to Put in Your Humidifier to Prevent Mold

    Preventing humidifier mold in the water tank is avoidable if you follow your device’s operational requirements including keeping a clean humidifier at all times. 

    Generally speaking, using distilled water in your water tank is recommended to avoid mold and white dust. In addition, regular use of white vinegar for weekly cleaning and bleach for a monthly deep cleaning is the best way to keep your device in tip-top shape. 

    For the Water Tank: Distilled Water

    As a brand new owner of a super cool humidifier, you may be wondering what type of water you need to put in the water tank: tap water? Filtered water? Bottled water? The options are endless, and of course you want to make the right decision.

    Most humidifiers require the use of distilled water for the water tank. Tap water, especially “hard” tap water (tap water with a high mineral count) can create a breeding ground for humidifier mold. Check your humidifier user manual to verify the water requirements before operating your device.

    Are filtered water and distilled water the same?

    Are filtered water and distilled water the same?

    No. Distilled water is the purest form of water containing no minerals, metals, nor other various inorganic compounds. Distilled water is achieved through boiling water to create vapor. The vapor is pushed into coiled metal tubes, condensing into water droplets. The water droplets are then diverted into a container and the result is distilled water.

    Filtered water is another form of purified drinking water that is achieved through reverse osmosis. While filtered water is perfectly healthy to drink, it does contain mineral content. Due to the size of the filter pores, a water filter can remove larger minerals, metals, and other inorganic compounds, but may leave smaller contaminants in the water. As a result, distilled water is the best type of water for your humidifier device. 

    What about Canopy humidifiers?

    Canopy humidifiers do not require the use of distilled water. Our innovative UV light technology kills 99.9% of bacteria, humidifier mold, and contaminants found in the water tank. For additional safety measures, our disposable paper filter traps the remaining .1% to ensure pure, healthy, and hydrated air regardless of your preferred water type.

    To Clean: White Vinegar

    Chances are, you have a moderately-sized bottle of white vinegar sitting in the back of your pantry. This magical ingredient is your key to a super clean humidifier.  

    Proper humidifier maintenance will require a weekly cleaning schedule. For more information on how and how often you need to clean your humidifier, you can visit our blog How to Clean a Traditional Humidifier or reference our shorter list, below

    To Deep Clean: Hydrogen Peroxide

    Deep cleaning your humidifier is a necessary, though infrequent requirement. While a white vinegar soak is a great way to clean your device weekly, sometimes you just need a little more *oomph* in the form of a deep clean. 

    Deep cleaning your device with hydrogen peroxide (or bleach, if you prefer) is simple. Add 3% hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle, and spray down the sides of your device. Let the solution soak for 15 minutes. Rise clean and air dry.

    How to Clean a Traditional Humidifier

    Regularly cleaning your humidifier is a critical step to ensure humidifier safety. Without a regular cleaning schedule, your humidifier is prone to develop harmful humidifier mold and bacteria that could ultimately be released into your living environment. In addition, maintaining a clean humidifier will increase the longevity of your device providing healthy, hydrated air to you and your family for years to come.

    Effectively cleaning your humidifier requires 5 basic steps. Depending on the type and model of humidifier you own, you may require a different series of steps to get an effectively clean humidifier. Make sure to reference your user manual for exact directions and guidelines.

    Here are the 5 general steps required to clean your humidifier:

    1. Disassemble your humidifier. Make sure to unplug your device and dump any remaining water from the water tank. Place on a towel to dry.
    2. White vinegar soak. Pour the vinegar into the base of your humidifier up to the brim. Let it soak for 30 minutes. Fill your humidifier water tank halfway with vinegar and shake for 1-2 minutes. Let the solution soak for 30 minutes. Fill a medium-sized bowl with vinegar and place any smaller parts from your device into the bowl to soak for 30 minutes.
    3. Scrub. Dump the vinegar from each of your humidifier components. Grab a small scrub brush and carefully scrub your humidifier components to loosen any built-up dirt or bacteria that has crusted to the sides of your device. 
    4. Carefully wipe down the exterior. Grab a small sponge and soak it in vinegar. Wipe down any non-electrical part of your device. 
    5. Rinse and dry your device. Run your humidifier components under fresh tap water avoiding any electrical parts of your device. Place the components on a dry towel and let them air dry.  

    Cleaning Your Canopy Humidifier

    You can clean your Canopy humidifier in the dishwasher.

    Traditional humidifiers breed humidifier mold and bacteria in the water tank. Canopy Humidifiers have unique, anti-mold technology that actually stops humidifier mold from growing. No humidifier mold, no worries. 

    We also understand just how busy life can get, so we designed our humidifier to fit your lifestyle. Cleaning your Canopy Humidifier could not be any easier. Just disassemble your Canopy Humidifier and place the tray, the water tank, and the cap in the dishwasher and you’re done. It’s seriously that easy!

    How to Water Plants While You’re Away: 5 DIY Pro Tips for Happy Plants

    How to Water Plants While You’re Away: 5 DIY Pro Tips for Happy Plants

    How do you water indoor plants while on vacation? How do you ensure your picturesque garden remains, well, picturesque while you leave your plants for 2 weeks on a work trip? Do not fret. 

    There are plenty of ways to ensure your precious potted plants remain safe, happy, and healthy whilst you trapeze across America on a great adventure. You can make these DIY plant waterers with materials gathered from around your home. Or, if you are short on time, you can invest in one of our recommended commercial alternatives. 

    Whether you are leaving your plants for 2 weeks or 2 days, our plant guide will give you peace of mind and give your plants the water they so desperately desire. 

    First, Answer These Questions

    Not all DIY plant waterers are created equal. There are a few, simple questions you need to answer before choosing the best solution for your self-watering needs. These include:

    1. How long will you be gone?
    2. What time of year will you be gone?
    3. What type of plants do you have? 
    4. Where are your plants located?

    Let’s explain why each of these questions will help you to determine which self-watering technique is best for your time away. 

    How long will you be gone?

    How long you will be gone will determine how often you need to water your plants while away.

    First and foremost, you need to establish a clear timeline for your vacation, work trip, or unexpected travel. If you are leaving your plants for 2 weeks, the most effective self-watering technique will look different than if you were leaving your plants for 2 days. 

    If you are leaving your plants for less than a week, a thorough watering the day before you leave should be sufficient to keep your plants healthy while you are gone. Climate and time of year influence this statement, however, so be sure to take note of when you will be gone and the projected weather forecast to prevent dehydration. More on this in the next two sections.

    What time of year will you be gone?

    You may be reading this article in preparation for a big trip months from now. Or, you may be tying up loose ends before you leave tomorrow morning. Regardless of your timeline, it is important to note the time of year you will be away from your plants to determine the level of care they will need while you are away.

    No stress if your trip is scheduled during the fall or winter months; at this time, your plants require less maintenance since cooler temperatures prevent the soil from drying out too quickly. It is important to note that the dry, frigid air that accompanies the winter months could dehydrate your humidity-loving tropical indoor plants; it is best to run a humidifier on low while you are away to prevent foliage decay. 

    If your trip is scheduled during the summer months, both indoor and outdoor plants require more water to prevent dehydration. 

    What type of plants do you have?

    The type of plants you have in your home or your garden will largely determine the best DIY plant waterer to implement while you are away to keep them healthy and strong.

    Succulents and cacti plants originate from climates with dry air and infrequent rainfall; as a result, these types of plants store water in their roots, stems, and leaves to prevent dehydration. Give your succulents and cacti a nice drink of water before you leave for your trip and they should be good to go for the entirety of your time away. 

    In order to thrive, orchids require their roots to completely dry out between waterings. As with succulents and cacti, it is best to leave your orchids alone while you are away.  Vegetable gardens and indoor herbs, on the other hand, require more maintenance than other plant types. You will need to attend to these types of plants with a keener eye.

    If time permits, closely monitor and make note of how much water each of your plants requires over the course of the week prior to your trip. This will help you to determine the best DIY plant waterer for your individual plant needs. 

    Where are your plants located?

    Where your plants are located determines how often you need to water them while away.

    Indoor plants located next to a window with ample sunlight may need to be moved to a shadier spot while you are away, especially if you will be gone during the summer months. 

    For outdoor, potted plants, you may want to move them to a naturally shady spot like under a tree or next to oversized shrubbery. Avoid placing your plants under a house overhand or awning since this will prevent any natural rainfall from hydrating your plants. 

    How to Water Plants While on Vacation (or a Work Trip)

    Alas, the big reveal… How do you water your plants while on vacation? 

    We have a few pro tips using materials you can find around your home.

    Pro Tip #1: The Water Wick

    The water wick method is particularly effective for indoor plants, and is recommended for plants that require moderate to light watering. 

    Follow these quick steps to create a DIY plant waterer that may give you flashbacks to your elementary school science class!

    Step 1: Gather materials. 

    You will need a large water container and wicking material. A vase, a bucket, or a water jug will suffice for your water container, depending on the size of your indoor plant and how long you will be away from your home (the longer you are away, the larger the container). For your wicking material, you can choose from a cotton clothesline, nylon rope, twine, a clothesline, yarn, or cotton fabric cut into a long strip. 

    Step 2: Fill your water container with water and place it next to your plant pot. 

    Make sure to place this water container out of direct sunlight to avoid evaporation. The lip of your water container should be higher than the potted plant. 

    Step 3: Cut your wicking material to size and put it in place. 

    Make sure your wicking material is cut long enough to reach the bottom of your water container, up through the lip of the container, and into the soil of your potted plant. Place one end of your wicking material into the water container and the other end 3 inches deep into your plant’s soil. 

    Step 4: Watch in amazement. 

    The wicking material will slowly “wick” or draw up water from the water container and into the soil of your plant. The release of water will be constant, and keep your plants hydrated while you’re away.

    Pro Tip #2: The DIY Drip System

    If you have a plastic water bottle or a wine bottle handy, the DIY drip system is a fantastic self-watering option. Follow these simple steps to create a DIY plant waterer that will last for up to 1 week. 

    Using a Plastic Bottle

    Use a water bottle for the DIY Drip System.

    Any size plastic water bottle will suffice for this watering tactic. Drill or poke several drainage holes near the top of the water bottle. 

    Make sure to sufficiently water your plants before you place your DIY drip system into your plant to ensure moist soil to start. Fill your plastic water bottle with water and quickly dunk the top of the water bottle a few inches into the soil, enough to ensure that your drainage holes are covered. Pat the soil around your water bottle to ensure it is secure and will not fall over while you are away. 

    Note: if you are going away for a week or slightly longer, you may want to replace the water bottle cap on the water bottle to slow the rate of water released from the bottle. 

    Using a Wine Bottle

    You can also use a wine bottle or a beer bottle (if you are going away for only a few days) for this method. No need to drill holes into your wine bottle, simply fill the container up with water and plunge into the soil. 

    Pro Tip #3: The Plant Bath

    Doesn’t a plant bath sound so delightful? 

    This method is only effective if your plant pots have drainage holes and if your bathroom has natural sunlight, either direct or indirect. 

    Simply place an old towel at the bottom of the bathtub and fill the tub with a few inches of cold water. Rest your potted plants (with drainage holes) in the tub and let them soak up water from the tub as needed throughout your trip.  

    Pro Tip #4: A Plastic Bag Greenhouse

    The plastic bag greenhouse method works best if you are leaving your plants for up to 2 weeks in duration. Be sure to follow these directions closely to prevent suffocating or frying your green friend. 

    First, water your plant thoroughly, making sure the soil has sufficient moisture throughout. Next, scrounge up a clear, plastic bag that is big enough to cover your entire plant. Add stakes to the plant soil large enough to prevent the bag from clinging to your plant foliage. Place the plastic bag around your plant, blowing air into the bag before tying to the base to further prevent the bag from clinging to your plant, and you’re done. 

    You have successfully created a mini greenhouse, which will catch water evaporation from your plant and recycle the moisture to keep the plant hydrated. Be sure to place your plant away from direct sunlight to avoid cooking your plant. 

    Short on Time? Popular Self-Watering Products

    You can use commercial alternatives to water your plants while away.

    If DIY is not your “thing” you can purchase one of the following self-watering products to ensure your plant babies thrive while you’re away. 

    • Terra-Sorb. Terra-Sorb is a super-absorbent potting gel that helps to lengthen the time your potting soil will stay moist. For outdoor plants and shrubbery, you can add a layer of mulch to the surface of the soil to slow down the evaporation process. 
    • The Watering Globe. Watering globes or self watering stakes work similarly to the DIY drip system. Watering globes look like bulb syringes that you place into your soil. When your soil dries, it releases oxygen into the bulb, which subsequently releases the perfect amount of water into your plant. Watering globes can be used effectively on indoor plants.  
    • Self-Watering Pots. Self watering pots contain a small tray at the base that can be filled with water or traps excess water that runs through the soil. When your plant is thirsty, it draws water from the tray, keeping it hydrated without hassle.