BOURNE, MA, June 19, 2008 — Relative humidity levels are often ignored in homes despite the fact that unsuitable levels can be unhealthy, increase heating and cooling costs, damage building components, and affect comfort levels.
Research has shown that high-relative humidity levels also support the growth of dust mites, molds and bugs that can lead to increased allergy symptoms and reduce indoor air quality (IAQ). However, little to no measured data is available on actual indoor humidity levels in homes across the United States.
Concerned about the impact that relative humidity has on a building's performance, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development paired up with Steven Winter Associates, Inc. (SWA), an architectural and engineering research and consulting firm, to gather temperature and humidity data in more than 50 homes across the country.
Three different regions are being targeted for the study – the warm, humid southeast, the cold northeast and the Pacific Northwest. To complete the study, household characteristic data will also be collected during the initial site-visit to the home, including occupancy levels, insulation levels, equipment efficiencies, envelope leakage and duct leakage.
To monitor temperature and humidity levels, SWA engineers selected HOBO® U12 data loggers from Massachusetts-based Onset Computer Corporation.
The battery-powered devices will measure and record humidity levels around-the clock – even during power outages – and accompanying HOBOware® Pro software will convert the data into time-stamped graphs that can be displayed on a PC or Mac.
The data collected from this study will support efforts already underway by the ASHRAE Standard Committee 160P on "Design Criteria for Preventing Moisture Damage in Buildings" and others to develop moisture modeling tools and related technical standards. These models and standards will help improve a home's performance by minimizing conditions associated with high moisture levels. Test homes for this study are currently being identified, and most initial site visits and data logger installations should be complete by the beginning of this summer.
Onset is a world leader in portable data logging and monitoring solutions based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The company's HOBO data logger and weather station products are used around the world in a broad range of monitoring applications, from verifying the performance of green buildings and renewable energy systems to agricultural and coastal research. Onset has sold more than one million data loggers since the company's founding in 1981.
ABOUT STEVEN WINTER ASSOCIATION, INC.
Steven Winter Associates, Inc. is one of the nation's most respected and knowledgeable firms in research, design and consulting for high-performance buildings. The company's reputation is built from 35+ years of experience offering its clients leading edge technology, research and development. SWA takes the "whole building" approach to incorporating energy and resource efficiency measures into residential, commercial, educational, institutional and community building projects. For more information about the company, please visit, www.swinter.com.