The Humidity May Be Relative But the Shock Is Real

Indoor/outdoor humidity chart

The humidity may be relative, but the shock is real.

Often times in the middle of a D.C. summer you hear people say, "It's not the heat... It's the humidity," and they're right. The humidity makes a big difference in the way the air feels to us and in how we feel about the weather. In the summer the added humidity slows the evaporation rate of moisture off the skin; making those hot, humid summer days feel really sticky.

In the winter we often don't notice humidity until we get shocked with a reminder that dry air allows a larger static charge to build on indoor surfaces - including us. On these cold winter days, we often get a static discharge to occur between a metal doorknob and our unsuspecting finger tip.

Meteorologists prefer to refer to moisture content in terms of dew point since humidity truly is relative. What is it relative to? The temperature, of course. The warmer air gets, the more water vapor (moisture) it can hold. As a result, 50 percent relative humidity in the summer feels humid while 50 percent relative humidity in the winter feels dry.

Check out our indoor/outdoor humidity chart and see the impacts that temperature has on humidity. On those cold winter mornings when temperatures drop into the teens the outdoor relatuive humidity may still be 50%, but when that cold air comes inside and warms up, look how low the relative (indoor) humidity becomes. Indoor humidity values below 10% will almost certainly give you a shock to remember.

The best defense is to add humidity to your indoor living space to keep that humidity relatively high.

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