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Ways to Limit Static Electricity in Your Home

Ways to Limit Static Electricity in Your HomeWinter is static electricity season. Those little zaps you get when you touch conductive surfaces in the house are vexing and sometimes downright painful. It might come as a surprise to know that the typical household static electricity shock delivers about 20,000 volts of electrostatic energy. Fortunately, however, because the charge behind that voltage is minuscule, the only ill effect is usually simply annoyance.

Why it Happens

When moving in contact with certain materials—like walking across a carpet or getting up off a sofa—your body collects negatively-charged electrons. Because you are wearing shoes that insulate you from grounding, this charge cannot dissipate naturally, particularly in low indoor humidity conditions. Once you touch a conductive surface like a doorknob or someone else’s hand, however, an instantaneous discharge arcs from your finger to the surface, delivering that annoying shock. If you try it in a dark room sometime and look closely, you can often see the tiny blue spark when the voltage arcs.

When it Happens

Winter is often the more “shocking” season simply because indoor air is drier. Moist air makes electricity dissipate from your body naturally so voltage doesn’t accumulate to high levels. Dry air, conversely, insulates your body. Static electricity doesn’t dissipate and your personal charge of negative electrons soars. Contact with a conductive surface then triggers the abrupt and painful discharge of electricity.

What You Can Do

First, try to keep household humidity in the recommended range of 30% to 50% so an electrostatic charge naturally dissipates and shocks diminish. Here in Yuma, low humidity is a feature of the local climate. Therefore, use of a whole-house humidifier or portable room humidifiers may be required to maintain shock-free humidity levels.

Secondly, you can try commercially available anti-static sprays. When applied to carpets, sofas and other materials, these products help reduce generation of electrons that cause static shocks.

For further information about maintaining proper indoor humidity levels to limit static electricity shocks, contact Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric Company.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Yuma, Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about home comfort and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 928-723-3183. 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay”