Can the Arrival of the Monsoon Affect Your Homes Energy Efficiency?

Real Estate Agent with Tierra Antigua Realty

The answer to the question is yes. The reasoning behind that answer takes some explaining.

 Monsoon Arrival

When the water content of the air increases by the arrival of the monsoon it brings vast quantities of moisture and an increase in the relative humidity. Our bodies are most comfortable in an environment where the relative humidity is 50% plus or minus 10%. In Tucson, AZ when the rains arrive, the relative humidity can climb above 60% making us feel clammy and hotter than the most comfortable level of 50% humidity. So, what happens to our bodies to make them feel hotter? One would think, with more moisture in the air our bodies would fell cooler, but that's not the case.

Arrival of the Monsoon

 Our Body's Cooling System

 Our bodies have a wonderful cooling system called "perspiration" which maintains our level of comfort with evaporative cooling that  moves  moisture thru the skin. Normally this transpiration of water as it leaves the skin to the drier air removes heat from our bodies thereby making the body cooler. As humidity levels increase above our comfort level of 50%, evaporation from the skin is reduced. Lower evaporation rates deprive your body of its normal cooling mechanism and you feel warm.

 Humidity and Energy Efficiency

The typical reaction of a home owner to feeling warm is to turn down the thermostat of the air conditioning unit in an attempt to keep cool. The result is you burn more energy and dollars to maintain a lower room temperature compared to the amount of cooling energy that is needed if the relative humidity was maintained at a comfortable level near 50%. Studies have shown when humidity levels are maintained at around 50% in a living space, air conditioner thermostats can be set as much as 5 to 7 degrees (F) warmer while providing the same level of comfort to the occupants.

Since most air conditioning units run on electricity, and most electricity is provided by coal burning utility power plants, it stands to reason when the humidity in our homes is kept close to our body's comfort level we can use less energy to maintain a comfortable living environment, keep more of our hard earned money in our pocket, cut back on our individual carbon foot print, and improve the air quality for all.

 What Happens in Winter?

 In the winter time, just the opposite happens to the relative humidity in our homes. In most homes the heating system recycles the indoor air over and over thru the furnace burner, which causes indoor air to become drier and drier. This cycling squeezes much of the humidity from the air causing our bodies to feel cooler. As room air dries, we begin to experience dry and itchy skin, dry eyes and mouth, chapped hands, an increase in static electricity and a wide range of other discomforts. From our body's energy efficiency perspective, the dry air increases the rate of evaporation thru our skin and this evaporation makes us feel chilled. The normal response of the home owner is to turn up the heat in an attempt to keep warm. The net result is you will burn extra fuel to maintain a higher room temperature and the air will become progressively drier.

 Humidity Solution for Energy Efficiency

In the hot summer, a home owner's strategy should be to remove moisture from the air and in the winter, the strategy is to add moisture to the air. Economic savings achieved by moisture control are in direct proportion to how much less you run your air conditioner in the summer and your furnace in the winter. Costs achieved thru moisture control vary with the level of sophistication of the humidifying-dehumidifying equipment added to your HVAC system. Depending upon the sophistication level of equipment and the controls used, a programmable control for example, you may expect savings to your utility bills in the range of 10-30%.

 More Information on This Subject:

 1. Report from the Department of Energy on Humidity in the Home What relative humidity should I have in my home? Seems like a simple enough question. However, the answer can sometimes be difficult to understand.

2. How Moisture Moves through a Home To understanding the principles of moisture control you need to understand the basics of how moisture can move through your home.

3. What you need to know about mold The color of mold is influenced by the nutrient source and the age of the colony. If mold is growing behind vinyl wallpaper, colorful pink or purple splotches may appear. Mold growing on fabric is called mildew.

4. Arizona MoldDog Detection Services John Setford, with his best friend Rocky, Certified Mold Inspector (CMI), NAMP certified providing non-destructive residential, commercial and industrial mold inspection in greater Tucson and Pima county area. A proven, accurate and trusted inspector.


If you would like more information on other home energy efficient features, please visit my website  Tucson EcoBroker or use the information below.

Brian Sharpe





Comments (3)

Dean Thornton
Century 21 All Star Realtors - Chandler, AZ

Nice article Brian. f you come across a client looking for an EcoBroker Certified realtor in the Phx metro then please keep me in mind. I will take good care of them.




Sep 06, 2009 07:59 AM
Kirk Buscho
North Valley Mechanical - Phoenix, AZ

Great job, Brian. I'm sure you're well aware what the monsoon can do, in Phoenix we had that CRAZY hail storm. You guys got it in Tucson too, right? Here's a blog we wrote with some pictures of the hail damage. Do you have a blog outside of Activerain? We'd be interested in linking with you.

Oct 25, 2010 10:28 AM
mold inspection Tucson Az

Useful and Infromative Post. Well written fact about Monsoon.

Feb 09, 2012 10:40 PM