How to reduce humidity in a house in winter

How to reduce humidity in a house in winter

The concept of humidity might conjure up thoughts of dense rainforests, Singapore streets, Saudi Arabia markets...but no, we’re talking about something a little closer to home.

Winter is here and with it the creeping, seeping signs of humidity.

Humidity is water vapour in the air. When this moisture comes into contact with a cool surface it forms water droplets, which can run down walls and soak into surfaces, creating mould and mildew. Humidity in a home can cause nasty respiratory problems, as well as damage the structure of the building.

So, how can you keep humidity out of your house? And what causes it? Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know.

What causes high humidity in a house in winter?

Unfortunately, some of our most common everyday tasks can lead to high humidity. The culprits include:

  • Having a shower or bath
  • Cooking at the stove
  • Drying clothes on the radiator
  • Boiling the kettle

These simple activities cause excess moisture in the air which, when it hits a cold surface such as a window, wall or mirror, create condensation. On top of this, minimal airflow (for example if you don’t have a window you can open in the bathroom) is a recipe for humidity.

In particular, humidity can be an issue in new-build properties because, in an effort to be energy-efficient, they’re often heavily insulated with little natural ventilation. As a result, they’re great at keeping the heat in but less good at letting moisture and water vapour out.

Telltale signs

How do you know if you need to reduce your indoor humidity? Here’s what to look out for:

  • Condensation on windows and mirrors
  • A musty smell around the house
  • Mould or discolouration around windows, in the corners of walls, on the ceiling or in the bathroom
  • Water stains on the walls or ceilings
  • The house feels muggy or clammy

How to lower humidity in house

If there’s a lot of moisture in the property, you’ll often be advised to regularly open the windows to let the breeze in; but how do you lower indoor humidity in winter, when the Beast From The East is roaring outside?

The causes of humidity are simple, as are the solutions. The key is to create steady airflow to prevent moisture and condensation from getting trapped in one area and soaking into the surface. So:

  • If possible, turn the extractor fan on before having a bath or shower and open a window and leave the bathroom door ajar afterwards.
  • Turn on the extractor fan in the kitchen and put a lid over your pan when cooking on the stove.
  • Where possible, dry your clothes outside.
  • Wipe down wet windows or walls.
  • On a sunny day, open the windows to let fresh air flow through.
  • Even if you’re leaving your house in the dark, always open your curtains and blinds.

You should also make sure to keep the property at a steady temperature during the colder months. We’re not talking about cranking the heating up but maintaining a low temperature of around 15 degrees in all the rooms. Were you planning on saving some pennies by only heating your bedroom? You might want to think again. The stark temperature difference is the perfect breeding ground for humidity.

15 degrees will still feel pretty chilly, so read our ‘12 top tips on keeping your home warm this winter’. Did you also know that bleeding your radiators is one of the easiest ways to cut down your energy bills and keep your home toasty? Read ‘How to bleed your radiator: 7 simple steps’ to find out more.  

What happens if you don’t stop the humidity in the house?

Humidity is the gateway to dampness and mould. Once the moisture begins to soak into the walls, you’ll have a real problem on your hands. And mould spreads fast, creeping along the backs of wardrobes, onto your furniture and even your clothes.

So, what can you do about it? And who’s responsibility is it - the landlord or the tenant? Read ‘Damp and mould in rented homes’ to get clued up.

The perfect storm of steaming showers, cold walls and mirrors - bathrooms are a real hot spot for mildew, which will cause the grout around your tiles to turn a grim grey colour...but luckily, it’s actually quite easy to sort. Read ‘How to clean grout and keep your bathroom looking fresh' for our top tips. Rainy day on the cards? Roll up your sleeves and get scrubbing.

Humidity for homeowners

If you own the property, there are a few other steps you can take to reduce indoor humidity,

  • Reseal your windows if they’re letting a draft in
  • Upgrade single glazed windows to double glazing
  • Keep the gutters clear

The last point is a big one, as a build-up of leaves and debris can block the gutters, prevent water from draining and create leaks. Once a leak forms, damp often follows closely behind. ‘Does home insurance cover roof repairs?’ You’ll have to read the blog to find out...

A few final tips…

Christmas is just around the corner and we’re limbering up to consume mounds (and mounds) of mince pies. But, we’re also acutely aware that this takes its toll on the environment. Last year in the UK alone, we got through 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging over the course of the festive season. Pretty shocking stuff. So, perhaps we could be a bit more mindful this year? From dazzling party outfits to LED lights, read ‘How to have an eco-friendly Christmas’ now.

Ok, so aside from Christmas, what are Urban Jungle doing about the climate crisis? For starters, we’ve been certified as a Carbon Neutral Business! And that’s just one of the many steps we’ve taken to ensure we’re playing our part. Read ‘Our commitment: to the planet & our people’ to find out more.