|HOME ENVIRONMENT METEOROLOGY
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
Below are the 5 writings that focused on home environment meteorology
1. HOME ENVIRONMENT: HUMIDITY
When moisture in the home is referenced, what will commonly be referred to is the relative humidity. The relative humidity is the percent
of moisture in the air relative to the maximum amount of moisture. A relative humidity of 30% indicates the air has 30% of the moisture
it could have for the temperature the house is at. A comfortable relative humidity is generally from 30% to 60%. Less than 30% can
lead to skin and throat irritation, possible drying out of furniture/flooring/walls and producing high static. Higher than 60% can lead to
mold problems and allergy problems.
There are ways to control the humidity in a home. When conditions are too dry, a humidifier will increase the relative humidity in the
home. This is especially important when it is cold outside because when the air from outside it processed through the heating unit
it will cause the relative humidity to significantly decrease since warm air has the capacity to contain much more moisture than
cold air. Even if the relative humidity is high outside when it is cold, once that air is brought inside it can turn extremely dry.
Showers and air drying dishes are other ways humidity will increase. The increase is temporary though thus if it is too dry it is
helpful to use a humidifier.
When the home is too moist, a dehumidifier can be used. This will remove some of the moisture from the air causing the relative humidity
to decrease to a more comfortable level. This is especially important if mold is an issue in the home. It also helps to check wall
and window surfaces and keep them disinfected from any signs of mold growth. High humidity in the home is an issue for climates in
which it is warm and humid outside. Refrigerating air causes the relative humidity to increase. Thus, warm and humid outside air
will tend to keep the humidity in the home at a high level. Damage can occur to furniture and the home when the humidity is too
high for a long period of time.
2. HOME ENVIRONMENT: TEMPERATURE
Temperature is one of the most important factors that determines human comfort. In the home environment, this value is controlled by
heating or cooling. There is a narrow range of temperatures that a person feels comfortable at while at rest. Of course, not everyone
will agree on this temperature. Depending on metabolic rate and other factors, the temperature that a person feels comfortable at
is unique for that person. Generally though, a great number of people are comfortable at a temperature somewhere in the range from
69 F to 75 F. This puts 72 F in the middle of this range. One person may feel most comfortable at 71 while another will feel most
comfortable at 74. Activity will help determine a comfortable temperature. After working out, 70 F feels more comfortable than 74 F.
While sleeping, some people like a cooler room while other like it warmer.
Temperature can vary in different parts of the home. This variation will depend on factors such as the outside temperature, position
of windows, how much sunlight is coming through windows, location and energy output of appliances, quality of insulation, fan use,
positioning and energy output of lights, and vent location. Thus, many factors determine the temperature at any position in the
home. When the thermostat is set at 72 F, the range of temperature in various locations in the home can be from 70 to 75 for
example. The location one spends most of the time in a home can determine what temperature the thermostat is set at to make it
comfortable. Here are some factors to keep in mind:
1) locations near appliances (such as washer, drying, dish washer, refrigerator) and near high energy output
lights will be warmer on average
2) locations near the window will be warmer or cooler depending on the weather outside. Cold weather makes locations near
the window colder and warm sunny weather makes window locations warmer.
3) The weather outside will influence the temperature distribution in the home. Cold weather outside will make walls and windows,
that divide outside from inside air, colder in that part of the room. Hot weather will make these walls warmer.
4) A ceiling fan will mix the air and this helps make the temperature differences in the home smaller.
5) If central cooling/heating is present, the vents can be strategically opened, closer or partially opened to help control
what the temperature is in certain parts of the home.
6) Leaks through windows or doors will reduce energy efficiency. Good insulation and no leaks
will help reduce the utility bill.
7) If a home is not heated or cooled adequately, here are some ways to make it more comfortable:
A) Home too hot
*drink ice water
*showering makes it feel cooler
*have a fan on
B) Home too cold
*safely use a supplemental electric heater for room or location that is too cold
*wear warm clothes
*Cook an oven cooked meal since oven gives off lots of heat
*run appliances such as doing laundry
3. HOME ENVIRONMENT: COOLING SOURCES
In certain situations the home environment can feel too warm. This can occur from high heat and humidity outside influencing the home environment,
not having a central cooling system or just feeling too warm for the temperature the home is at. There are several ways to help cool the
One way to cool the home environment is to use fans. These can be ceiling fans, regular store bought fans or fans such as on an air
purification system. The movement of air on the skin makes it feel cooler than it really is. This is called a wind chill effect.
The movement of air does not lower the temperature in the home but what it does is more quickly remove body heat from a person. This
faster loss of heat results in the skin feeling cooler. The skin surface layer is warmer than the air in the room, thus increasing
the heat loss from the skin to the room will make a person feel cooler.
Evaporation is a cooling process and is especially effective when the air is on the dry side. Evaporation is a conversion of liquid water
to gaseous water vapor. It takes energy for a water molecule to escape the tighter bonding with neighbors of being a liquid molecule.
When it escapes it takes its higher energy with it. This is known as latent heat absorption. The effect is that evaporating moisture
will cool the skin. This is why getting out of the shower can feel cold. Thus, one way to feel cooler is to put water on the skin
and have it evaporate. A fan blowing on water will increase the evaporation rate. Thus air blowing on a person combined with moisture
on the skin will help it feel significantly cooler to the skin.
Drinking cold fluids is another way to help the body cool down. The cold fluids only need to be consumed slowly to have a positive
effect on cooling the body. Sipping on ice water or a cold drink will help a warm home feel cooler.
4. HOME ENVIRONMENT: SUN
The sun can make a significant difference in the comfort that is generated in a home. During the day, certain windows are going to
experience more sunlight than others. These windows and rooms will tend to be warmer. Letting in more sunlight can be strategically
used to add more warmth to the home when it is cold outside. This helps reduce the heating bill. At night, it is better to keep
curtains or blinds closed over the window when it is cold outside so that the room stays a little warmer.
In the summer, too much sunlight can make the home environment too warm. Specially designed windows can reduce the amount of solar
radiation that passes through the window and can reduce the amount of heat buildup that occurs at the window. Curtains and
tinting can also reduce the amount of warmth that comes through a window.
Tall and full trees can also help reduce the amount of sunlight that strikes a home. In the case of a deciduous tree, the tree will
lose leaves in winter allowing more sunlight to strike the home. This can help warm the home when it is cold outside. In summer,
the leaves will act to block sunlight which helps keep the home cooler.
5. HOME ENVIRONMENT: INSULATION AND WEATHER PROOFING
Insulation is used to keep air of different temperatures on each side of a boundary and minimize the heat flow from the warmer
substance to the cooler substance. Weather proofing is eliminating the cracks and creases that air can flow through such as on
the edges of front/back doors and windows. Both good insulation and weather proofing can be used together to reduce utility bills
and keep the temperature within the home more stable.
Insulation is found inside walls and in the attic of ceiling. It is made of materials that do not conduct heat well. This helps prevent
the outside air from influencing the inside of the home as much. In the process of weather proofing, an analysis is done to see where
in the home there are inefficiencies in keeping the outdoor air from influencing the inside of the home. Examples of weather proofing
include adding more energy efficient windows, sealing creases and cracks on the edges of doors and windows, adding screen door,
sealing leaks that may be present in attic or basement, and energy efficient roofing.
The advantages to having good insulation and weather proofing include lower utility bills, more uniform temperature distribution in
the home, less bugs and dust entering the home, and better control of the air in the home. When inspecting a home or buying a
home it is important to examine how well the home is insulated and weatherproofed.