Humidity: Wine vs Your Indoor Air Comfort

FACT: Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, whether inside or out. It varies according to the temperature and pressure of the air. The warmer the air, the more water vapor it can hold.

If you happen to be a bottle of wine….the ideal temperature range is 55-58 degrees and 55-75% relative humidity. Why?

IMPORTANT FACT: Wine ages inside a glass bottle sealed with a natural cork. The security of the cork is extremely important because the cork controls the amount of oxygen that reaches your wine. Too little, and a wine will not be able to reach its full potential. Too much, and the wine will spoil. Cork is a great natural material for sealing liquids, because it expands to prevent leaks. However, corks can dry out too much if the humidity is too low. An over-dry cork will shrink, letting too much air into the bottle and causing cork taint. Too much humidity, on the other hand, can lead to mold on the cork.

MOST IMPORTANT FACT: 55-75% humidity in your home is not healthy. Maintaining a relative humidity below 50% prevents dust mite infestations, mold and mildew growth, and inhibits bacteria. This lower relative humidity (RH) also reduces the out-gassing of volatile organic compounds. In wintertime, humidity levels must be even lower, generally 30 to 40% – to prevent condensation on windows and other surfaces.

Herein lies a problem: With indoor humidity of less than 30%, health problems can develop, including dry noses and throats that make people more susceptible to upper respiratory illnesses. Skin dryness and irritation may also occur. And, there are harmful microbes that prefer excessively dry air.

On a winter day, 40 degrees outside with an outdoor RH of 60%, turning on the heater to warm the air inside your home to 70 degrees causes the RH indoors to drop to 21%. This is extremely low. Now, consider this – the average relative humidity in the Sahara Desert is 25%.

As a homeowner, it is important to measure and control relative humidity levels throughout the entire home, since the humidity levels in the air may change drastically through the heating and cooling processes. These processes can then lead to extreme highs or lows in the relative humidity levels indoors.

If you suspect unhealthy or uncomfortable conditions in your home due to the humidity being too high or too low, it is wise to purchase a digital thermo-hygrometer AKA moisture meter or humidity sensor. This handy instrument digitally calculates temperature and measures indoor relative humidity levels. It can store the minimum and maximum temperature and relative humidity as well as provide up-to-date readings of the present conditions. This unit allows you to evaluate the RH levels in your home and understand the RH patterns, such as highs and lows, that exist.

ULTRA IMPORTANT FACT: The only thing that is comfortable when the temperature is in the mid-50’s with a relative humidity between 55 to 75% is your favorite wine.