House conditions: How weather impacts your home environment

KOIN 6 Weather Kids

Houses in the Alphabet Historic District of Portland Oregon USA on a sunny morning

Editor’s note: The KOIN 6 Weather team is presenting weather and science lessons to help serve our teachers and students. Click here for more lessons.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Have you ever felt uncomfortable in your own home because of the conditions inside? It’s too dry and warm or maybe you can’t cool it down after a summer afternoon? Well, the weather can impact the conditions that you have in your house from season to season in a handful of ways.

Most of the time, you may just think of weather as something that is happening outside; however, many of the key concepts can be related to your house environment too.

On certain days you may open your windows and allow for a cool breeze to come in and add comfort to your day. Other days you may feel a bit cold and decide to take a nap near the window where the sun is shining in. In the summer you may need to close the curtains and run a fan to keep the room cool. In the winter, you may have to run the heater to warm the house up. All these choices are influencing the conditions inside your home and it’s all related to weather.


Why don’t we first discuss the idea of relative humidity (you can learn more about that in a previous weather kids lesson) and what it means for the comfort of your home. Sometimes, your house may feel very dry, especially in the winter. Well, it’s likely that the relative humidity is low and this may lead you to have dry hands or chapped lips.

Relative humidity is a measurement of the moisture in conjunction with the temperature. In the winter, you tend to run a heating device in your house to keep it warm. You’re taking that parcel and warming it up which is likely to reduce your relative humidity if you’re not running a humidifier. You may find that your house is uncomfortable in the winter if you’re constantly running the heat.

In the summer it may be too humid, especially if you have a cool basement that may be a bit damp. Many times residents will run a dehumidifier to help pull that moisture from the air to create a more comfortable house. Most find a relative humidity of 30 to 60 percent as comfortable.

What’s the deal with using a ceiling fan to cool down? Wind helps you cool by guiding the air coming off your body away. This is what occurs in the winter when it feels colder because of the wind. You will hear us call that the wind chill. The wind isn’t actually cooling the temperature of the room but it is helping you feel cooler by removing the warm air radiating from your body. A fan can also mix the air in a room to help allow for moderation.

Another source that can help cool an area of the house an awning or large tree that blocks the sun from shining on a particular part of the house. I’m sure you’ve closed the curtains to block the sun out too. These are ways to help keep a room from warming up because of the solar radiation.

Next time you’re feeling uncomfortable in your house, you may start thinking about what is actually going on and how can it be fixed.

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