Every year when we turn the furnace back on, static cling seems inevitable. Chances are, you can’t go without your furnace, but you could do without all the static it produces.
What Causes Static Electricity?
Static is a type of electricity. Static electricity is the same force that causes lightning, although that is on a much larger scale. In your home, static forms when 2 objects rub together. For example, when you shuffle your feet across a carpet.
As the objects, in this case, your feet and the carpet, rub together they exchange electrons. One object loses electrons, and the other object gains them, causing an imbalance of charges known as the triboelectric effect.
As the charge builds up, it needs to be discharged. The discharge of electricity is what causes a static shock. The root cause is electron transfer, but in many homes, lack of humidity is a contributing factor.
When the temperature drops, there is less humidity, or moisture, in the air. Moisture in the air is conductive and helps to regulate electrical charges. The less humidity there is, the less static electricity can be absorbed by the air. In turn, the static then clings to your hair, clothes, bedding, and other surfaces.
How to Reduce & Prevent Static in Your Home
Now that you know what causes static electricity, how do you prevent it? Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do to reduce static build-up in your home.
Use Anti-Static Spray
Anti-static spray can be a quick and easy way to help reduce static. The spray coatings usually contain a polymer (plastic) and a solvent, which help fabrics retain moisture. The more moisture, the more conductive the object is, helping to reduce static buildup.
You can buy anti-static spray for less than $10 at most home goods stores, or you can make your own. For DIY anti-static spray, simply mix 2 tablespoons of liquid fabric softener with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle and spray it on clothing and fabrics around your home. In a pinch, you can also rub fabric softener sheets across clothing and other fabric items.
Avoid Static-Inducing Clothing
Some types of fabric cause more static than others. If you’re struggling with static, try avoiding these fabrics:
Natural animal fibres like wool, fur, and silk all contain moisture, which helps to conduct static electricity. Synthetics like polyester and rayon don’t have the same moisture issue, but they are electrical insulators, which can cause static.
Cotton and leather are often the safest bet when it comes to reducing static. If you wear shoes or slippers inside your home, try and choose ones with leather soles instead of rubber.
Plants are one way you can easily re-humidify your home. Some plants that will really help with your home’s moisture levels include:
- Areca palm
- Boston fern
- Spider plant
- Peace lily
- Rubber plant
- Chinese evergreen
- Snake plant
- Dracaena marginata
- Bamboo palm
Additionally, plants have the benefit of adding natural decor to your home and can even help you beat the winter blues.
As you may well know from the last time you reached for a doorknob or light switch in your home, touching metal will discharge static electricity buildup. You can help prevent the stronger (and painful) static discharges by touching something metal as you walk through your home.
Use a Humidifier
A lack of moisture in the air is the biggest culprit when it comes to excessive static electricity in homes. A humidifier is one of the best ways to increase moisture levels in your home and reduce static.
While portable humidifiers might be an enticing option, whole-home humidifiers will do the best job of improving moisture levels in your home. Whole-home humidifiers distribute moisture throughout your home, whereas portable humidifiers may struggle to noticeably increase humidity levels for even a single room. You also have much more control over the settings of a whole-home humidifier, allowing you to customize the moisture levels for your home.
Ready to Say Goodbye to Static?
A whole-home humidifier is the best way to increase humidity and decrease static in your home. If you’ve tried these other tips and you’re still getting static shocks, contact us for a humidifier quote. The home comfort experts at Mr. Furnace have been serving the St. Catharines and Niagara area since 1978, so we can recommend the best humidity solutions for your home.