Why Does Humidity Make You Hot?
You step outside into what appears to be a balmy 80 degree day expecting it to be warm, but within ten minutes (or even a quick trip to your car) you feel like you’re walking around in air thick as soup, and there’s already a fine sheen of sweat all over your skin. What caused this? Humidity! Or, to be more exact relative humidity.
Humidity is a catchall term we use to define any form of water vapor in the air either due to fog, precipitation or dew. The words relative humidity refer specifically to how high the humidity is relative to the current temperature. This is the humidity talked about by your friendly local meteorologist on the news (absolute humidity refers to the total mass of water present in the air, unrelated to temperature).
How Humidity Makes You Feel Hot
Before we get into some in-depth science lesson (trust us, there are more than a few to be had here), let’s talk about how humidity affects you. So how does it make you feel hot? The answer lies in sweat, your body’s natural defense against overheating. Your body sweats in response to extreme internal temperature, and the level of humidity in the air directly correlates to how efficient this process is.
With low humidity, you sweat, and that sweat quickly evaporates and pushes away from your body, cooling you by pushing heated water vapor away from your body. When humidity is high, the presence of water vapor already in the air reduces your sweat’s ability to evaporate effectively.
Run that by me again…
You could call the amount of humidity in the air a form of insulation. If there’s too much, your body is ‘over insulated’, and can’t get rid of heat very effectively, making you sweaty, sticky, miserable and feeling much hotter than the temperature might indicate.
Solutions to In-Home Humidity
A dehumidifier is a great example of anti-humidity tech that works by pulling the air present in a room into the machine via fan. The air is then rapidly cooled through a series of coils, which collects the moisture present in the air (Think a cold can outside on a hot day and you’ll get the idea). The dehumidifier then warms the air back up and pushes it back into the room, now considerably less water vapor heavy.
Air Conditioning units act in a similar way to dehumidifiers, pulling moisture out of the air via cooling, and are generally much more effective on a larger scale (whole homes) with the added benefit of cooling the air, as you would expect. Installing a modern air conditioner should help the humidity.
Air Conditioning in Virginia
In our area, we experience a mild to moderate climate and summers are often a bit on the humid side, making air conditioning in Virginia an exceptional, if not mandatory, idea. Contact HVAC & Plumbing Unlimited today and have our professionals work toward solving any humidity issues you may have this season!