Larry Clinton At Frankfort, (Central) Indiana
I agree 100%, I was raised in a home built in the 20's, it was heated (somewhat) by 2 oil burning space heaters. In the 1940's windows leaked air enough that I have seen snow on the window sill and edge of my bedspread in the morning.
Almost all the home in my small town were heated with wood or oil space heaters. These used "inside" air to burn. All the air / smoke rushing out the chimney was replaced by dry winter air coming in through the cracks in the windows, doors or walls. Few if any of the homes in that period had any insulation. As Bill said there were many daily air exchanges in the winter with effective near 0 humidity in the home.
My exiting home built in the 1880's was in the same condition when I purchased it many years ago. Today it is insulated, with new windows, and heated with a gas furnace with sealed combustion chamber, burning using outside air. Most new furnaces work this way. My shop also uses this type furnace and central air conditioning.
Adding in the fact that the water vapor from showers, baths and cooking are retained in the newer homes elevates the humidity level far above the older homes, reduces the "drying" of the furniture in the winter.
Most homes today also have fairly effective windows that seal and are insulated. Most are also Air Conditioned reducing the humidity in the summer. The temperature is also regulated far more closely compared to yesteryear.
The combination of higher humidity in the winter and much lower humidity in the summer, makes the possibility of the wood moisture content changing rapidly or extremely, far less likely.
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- Seasonal Movement, Then and Now