The Optimal Humidity & Temperature for Cold Climates

Published on November 14, 2019

Optimal Humidity and temperature levels for cold climates

One of the most common complaints or worries about a person’s home is condensation on the windows in the winter months. While it can certainly be a cause for concern when condensation is visible, it may not always be as serious as one would think.


Condensation on windows is generally caused by warm inside air meeting the cold window. The air carries moisture, and when the air can no longer hold all the water vapour, condensation forms. Since warm air carries much more water vapour than cold air, you generally see condensation form on your windows in the colder months of the year; this is especially true in places with higher humidity such as the bathroom, kitchen, or some basements or crawl spaces.

How to Prevent Condensation on Windows

The easiest way to reduce or prevent condensation on your windows is to decrease the humidity in your home. Doing things like washing clothes, showering, cooking, and breathing all add moisture to the air in your home. Since there are so many things you do on a daily basis that increase the humidity levels, the easiest and cheapest way to reduce the moisture in the air is to use a dehumidifier, or increase ventilation by opening a window or running an exhaust fan.


If the condensation on the windows persists, or there are other indicators of extreme moisture (paint bubbling, mould or mildew growth, etc.), you may have to consider retrofitting your home.  An effective way to control moisture in your home is to ensure you have a proper thermal and vapour barrier. This also means making sure your home is properly ventilated. Another way to help mitigate a moisture problem would be to consider upgrading your windows to energy efficient models


When Ontario winter weather rolls in, it gets extremely cold outside and nice and warm in your home. Don’t forget that it can be perfectly normal to see some condensation on your windows in these types of conditions!


Having an energy assessment completed on your home is an essential step in recognizing your home’s energy efficiency rating. An energy audit will look at the building envelope, and the inner and outer workings of your home. A major element to the energy audit is the blower door test. A blower door test will measure the airtightness level of your home. The energy audit, will help determine the cause of your high/low humidity levels, and your Registered Energy Advisor can then make suggestions on the best practices to help reduce the problem.

How to Optimize Climate Control in Cold Weather

Monitoring your humidity levels is the most effective way to minimize any moisture-related risks to your home. Humidity can easily be monitored with a hygrometer, which can be purchased at any local hardware store for a reasonable cost. A hygrometer is a tool used to measure the humidity of the air.


Along with a hygrometer, there are plenty of indicators to alert you of any extreme humidity levels in your home. For instance, if you find your blankets or clothes clinging together from the static, your home is too dry. Another indicator is yourself; a scratchy, dry throat or dry, peeling skin are other indicators of a dry environment. As mentioned previously, condensation on your windows, a moldy or musty smell, or paint peeling are all signs of high moisture levels.


Optimal humidity levels for cold climates

Humidity levels should stay below 40 percent to help prevent frost or condensation from forming. Additionally, you should try to keep the humidity level above 20 percent to help with indoor air quality. By keeping your humidity in this “sweet spot”, you’re going to substantially increase your indoor air quality. Increasing your indoor air quality prevents mould and mildew growth, discourages dust mite infestations, and helps the body fight illnesses and skin/eye irritation.


If your home is too humid, try running a dehumidifier in areas of high humidity such as the kitchen, living room or basement. Additionally, you can run your kitchen or bathroom exhaust fan to ventilate the areas (you should always use your exhaust fans while cooking or bathing).

How Does Climate Increase or Decrease Condensation on Windows?

When the weather cools down, you increase the heat in your home. Since warm air carries more water vapour, the warm inside air hits the cold glass window and can form fog or condensation. When the temperature outside differs so greatly from the temperature indoors, it can be perfectly normal to see some moisture or fog on the windows.


Condensation can form on the outside of the windows during the summer months as well, and is also caused by temperature differences between the inside and the outside environment. The warm summer air carries more moisture; when that warm air meets the conditioned air, it causes condensation as the air can no longer hold the moisture. Ensure that the condensation is on the outside of the window, and not in between the panes or on the inside. This can be checked by running your finger along the condensation on the outside; if the moisture touches your finger, it’s perfectly normal and isn’t a cause for concern.


If you are concerned about the moisture levels in your home, contact BSG to schedule an energy audit which includes a blower door test. An energy audit will evaluate your home’s building envelope, which will be pivotal in determining the best course of action in mitigating a moisture problem. Your Registered Energy Advisor will be able to make informed suggestions on the best practices to mitigate any moisture problems. If you decide to retrofit your home to help reduce or avoid moisture damage, you may be eligible for rebates for certain renovations through the Home Efficiency Rebate.


The Home Efficiency Rebate is a new program that provides up to $5,000 for home energy upgrades. Be sure to contact us today to see if you qualify! You can simply call our office at 1-866-333-3920, speak to our office staff on our live chat, or fill out a contact form on our website

The Canada Greener Homes Grant offers home efficiency renovation grants up to $5,000.

Homeowners Canada-wide are eligible for the Canada Greener Homes Grant, announced on May 27, 2021. This new incentive offers up to $5,000 in grants for home efficiency retrofit renovations, plus a $600 reimbursement for pre- and post-work EnerGuide evaluations. Eligible retrofit scopes include home insulation, heating, doors, windows, photovoltaic solar panels, resiliency measures, and thermostats.

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