Humidity: friend or foe?
I vote the latter. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say “ah, I wish the humidity levels were slightly higher today!” Nobody likes high humidity. It makes our hair frizzy, deters us from being able to sit outside at restaurants, and furthermore - can be detrimental to the health of HVAC units.
Being located in the sunshine state, our team knows a thing or two about extreme heat and humidity levels - especially during the summer months when the average temperature peaks at around 100 degrees. But contrary to what you might think, it isn’t just summer humidity that can be damaging to HVAC performance. Winter is a guilty contender, too.
If an HVAC unit is healthy and working effectively, it is able to remove the appropriate amount of heat and moisture from a living space, giving residents the comfort levels they want.
When humidity levels are high, HVAC systems tend to work harder to keep the residence cool. If an HVAC unit hasn’t been maintained in a while, or is falling slightly behind in performance, it will be straining to keep up. As a result, the residence may end up feeling warmer than it actually is because the air is holding onto additional moisture that isn't being correctly removed. Needless to say, the system will be working overly hard for extended periods of time without reaching the desired result. This is a surefire way to add wear to the unit and result in higher utility bills (higher utility bills = unhappy property managers!).
However, when humidity levels are correctly managed during the summer season, HVAC systems perform more effectively. Residents will reap the benefits of increased comfort, while HVAC units will perform more efficiently and in turn, result in lower utility bills.
So what happens to humidity levels in the winter? With cold air not being able to hold as much moisture as warm air, low humidity becomes the main issue in most residences - and it has the opposite effect than in the summer heat. A significant drop in moisture levels can cause a living area to feel colder than what the thermostat is indicating, which leads to a resident constantly increasing the temperature on the thermostat because the humidity is too low. So again, the HVAC system is forced to use a high amount of energy and straining to pump heat out into the air, yet still never being able to reach the desired level of warmth. It’s like an uphill battle and bound to take a toll on equipment.
Understanding the effects and being able to monitor humidity levels can help to prevent HVAC equipment malfunctions - and therefore avoid the need for expensive repairs. Ultimately, proper HVAC maintenance throughout the year is imperative to ensuring systems are equipped and ready to handle periods of extreme weather conditions. For property managers in particular, it goes without saying that an increase in NOI is the biggest benefit of all.