It's humid, we're pissed.
May 16, 2011 7:37 PM   Subscribe

Help me settle a debate. It is very humid outside, and it will be drizzling all week long. The apartment has windows that allow for a cross-breeze. Which of the two options will make it feel less humid inside: windows open or windows closed?

There is a ceiling fan in one room, but no air-conditioning at the moment. The main room has a fairly high ceiling. The windows are old and not insulated.
posted by hooray to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by J. Wilson at 7:45 PM on May 16, 2011

keep the windows closed and rent a dehumidifier for a week... otherwise, I doubt it will make any difference, one way or the other, if the windows are open.
posted by tomswift at 7:46 PM on May 16, 2011

If you have a room that has windows that allow for a cross-breeze and a ceiling fan in it, that's your best bet. Let the air in so you're not roasting, and then get the air moving around.

I don't know that it'll feel less humid, but it'll feel less stuffy and miserable, for sure.

Are you trying to keep something dry, or trying to feel comfortable?
posted by Sara C. at 7:53 PM on May 16, 2011

Windows closed for less humidity, period. If you've also got a problem with heat, that is a secondary issue, but closed windows will keep the internal humidity lower.
posted by jessamyn at 7:54 PM on May 16, 2011

Yeah, I agree with the others: windows closed.

But how you perceive the difference has more components than just the humidity and temperature. For your body to feel cooler in this situation, the best thing is to increase the evaporation rate of sweat. That's why high humidity makes you feel so miserable: because the capacity of the air to hold more water vapor (your sweat) has been reduced.

A good breeze will help your sweat evaporate and make you cooler, even if the humidity outside is slightly higher than what it would be inside with windows closed.

Maybe the best situation is to keep the windows open during the night (colder air can hold less water vapor = dew) and close them in the morning before the temperature rises. Leave the fan on at all times. Dehumidifier during the day when the windows are closed, if you have it.
posted by sbutler at 8:03 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

I find it odd that simply closing a window keeps humidity outside. Last I checked if it was humid outside, it was humid inside. Your building/house/apartment isn't air tight. And I'm sure there's people in and out all day with the door.

I'd opt for the breeze.
posted by Brian Puccio at 8:18 PM on May 16, 2011 [7 favorites]

Keeping the windows closed isn't going to help much - old houses have too many gaps that are going to let in the moisture regardless of the windows.

It's stuffiness (humidity + stagnant air) that usually feels more terrible than simple humidity on its own. Open the windows for a cross breeze, turn on the fan, and at least get the air moving.
posted by Kololo at 8:25 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

open. let the breeze in.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:52 PM on May 16, 2011

When I was in Iowa in the late hot spring living in a basement apartment (and dorms), it made no difference whether the windows were opened or closed, cross breeze or not. The problem with open windows was that rain got in; the humidity goes down a *little bit* overnight, but the indoor dampness ended up miasma-ing when it got warm(er) the next day. Also, extra mold and mustiness and other grossicity.

It was hot sticky wet oppressive and SUCKY. I overspent and bought a $100 dehumidifier that when running full on (windows closed) would fill a gallon reservoir every hour or so.

The dehumidifier helped but it really didn't do much.

Getting an air conditioner (window-box style, self-mounted - cheapest model I could find, ~200 on sale, it wasn't very powerful but it didn't draw a ton of electricity, either) really really really made things more tolerable. I probably got the air conditioner paid off, from beer and weed that people would bring so they could hang somewhere with AC, by the end of that summer.
posted by porpoise at 9:24 PM on May 16, 2011

Open, I live in Hawaii in a humid area, you want the windows open.
posted by fifilaru at 11:46 PM on May 16, 2011

leave the windows open or at least air regularly. keeping them closed will probably increase the humidity because human activity produces humidity (cooking, showering, sleeping and sweating, etc) and with closed windows you're keeping it in.
posted by canned polar bear at 1:37 AM on May 17, 2011

If the question is what will keep the humidity down, it's keeping the windows closed. If the question is what will make the inside environment more comfortable, that's a slightly different thing. Ceiling fans and ventilation don't do a whole lot to help when there's a great deal of humidity. BUT, moving humid air is less uncomfortable than completely still humid air. If you can get a dehumidifier, then keep the windows closed, and ceiling fan and dehumidifier on. That's probably your optimal solution unless/until you can get air conditioning.
posted by bardophile at 2:05 AM on May 17, 2011

Living in Houston, where my AC went out once and our electricity goes out during hurricanes, I've had the unfortunate opportunity to think about this quite a bit. It will be humid either way, but it feels less awful with the windows open because the breeze allows for evaporative cooling of your sweat. All windows open, and taking lots of cold showers without toweling off is the coolest you're going to get.
posted by Houstonian at 3:42 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Open with fan on. Move that air.
posted by nickrussell at 5:46 AM on May 17, 2011

Especially if it is one of those cool-ish and clammy days, windows closed and kick the heat on. An uncomfortable relative humidity at 65 degrees will be more comfortable at 70.

(That's why poorly designed air conditioning systems always feel awful. They cool too quickly and don't dehumidify enough.)
posted by gjc at 6:24 AM on May 17, 2011

Ugh, I live in an old, none air-conditioned house in Mississippi, and so far that's been my experience here (little to no air conditioning and old houses). I suggest you leave the windows open, open, open and the ceiling fan on.

Keeping the windows closed in an old house in the summer in a humid environment (in my experience, and I've lived in the American South - Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and now Mississippi for quite a while) with no air conditioning is a one-way trip to misery. Ceiling fans are your friend...
posted by patheral at 7:40 AM on May 17, 2011

Vernacular architecture in humid climates ALWAYS works to maximize airflow. Centuries of experience says windows open, fan on.
posted by Chris4d at 8:33 AM on May 17, 2011

Anecdatum for you: Coincidentally, I did just this experiment today while I was at work. The windows have been open for days during periodic light rain, and the house has felt humid and warmer than the stated air temp. This morning I closed all the windows. Upon getting home about 7 hours later, the house was noticeably less humid, even though there was torrential rain outside.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 12:00 PM on May 17, 2011

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