Dry air can be a benefit or a bane, depending on the temperature and season. People living in homes with forced air heat often complain about dry air in winter as it can make a throat dry and scratchy and cause watery eyes and nosebleeds. In the summer, dry air is a welcome relief from heat and humidity because it aids in the evaporation of moisture from your skin.
Dry Air Inside the Home
Dry air occurs when there is a lack of moisture or humidity in the air. Humid air feels hotter than dry air at the same temperature; in summertime, the drier the air, the better. Dry air has the reverse effect in winter as it feels colder than humid air. To this end, you may want to place a pan of warm water near the radiator or heating vent to circulate moisture with heat and make the room temperature feel higher.
How Ceiling Fans Work
Ceiling fans circulate room air but do not increase dryness or remove humidity; they move air over your skin, evaporating moisture quicker than usual. Ceiling fans turn counterclockwise in summer to push warm air down and mix it with pockets of cool air near the floor; they turn clockwise in winter to pull up warm air and send it across the ceiling and down the floor to mingle with cool air and even the room temperature. Running your ceiling fans in summer lessens the energy required by your air conditioner, allowing you to save on cooling bills. In the winter, run your ceiling fans on low to keep from feeling a draft; using them along with your furnace to distribute heat means you can turn your your thermostat down a few degrees and save on heating costs.
Increasing Dry Air
If you're trying to increase dry air in the summer, run a dehumidifier along with your air conditioner. Dehumidifiers pull humid air in and use a fan to blow it over a combination of cold and hot water, releasing moisture from the air. The dry air is then blown back out the machine, and air is circulated through the room and repeatedly sent back through the machine. This process gradually dries room air. Ceiling fans will help circulate drier air throughout your home.
Reducing Dry Air
Use a humidifier along with your heating system in winter. Humidifiers work in a few ways; they can blow room air over a moisture pad and release humid air, they can boil water and release steam into the room or they can chill water and release a cool vapor into the room. All methods help eliminate dry air.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.