Static Electricity: Annoying and Sometimes Costly in Your Home
The shocking zap you feel when you touch a door knob during the dry winter months can be mildly painful, but the static electricity that causes it can also damage your computers and other electronic equipment. Technically called static discharge, it’s the same process that causes lightning during a thunderstorm – equalization between two materials with different electrical charges.
It happens more in your home during the winter because the air is drier, which makes it less conductive to electricity. Your body builds up a charge, often from walking across a carpet, then discharges it when it meets something conductive, like the metal door knob. If the discharge goes through an electronic device, like your computer or television, it can reach the sensitive electronics inside. When the high-voltage zap from your finger reaches a circuit board, the electricity can break the circuits and damage the resistors, capacitors and microchips on it.
Preventing static electricity isn’t difficult; you can take a few simple steps to prevent painful shocks and potentially expensive electronic repairs or replacement:
- Install a whole-house humidifier. This is the best option for solving your static electricity problems. Increasing the humidity will make the air more conductive, which will keep the static charge on your body from building up enough to shock you.
- Use a commercial anti-static spray on your furniture and carpet. You can use the same product to eliminate static on your clothes after you take them out of the dryer. You can also make a homemade version: add two tablespoons of fabric softener to one cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray.
- Moisturize well after bathing and use plenty of lotion during the winter. The lotion will lessen the amount of static electricity able to build up on your body.
If you’re interested in a whole-house humidifier to keep you from getting zapped all winter long, or you’re interested in more winter comfort tips and tricks, contact Sobieski Services. Our goal is to help educate our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC & plumbing systems).
Photo Credit: Sam Bald via Compfight cc