The Importance of Humidifiers in Our Homes
How to Keep Proper Humidity Levels in Your Home
We feel the affects of humidity everyday. In the winter, it seems especially bad because everything is so dry. Static electricity shocks us every time the clothes need to be folded or when we pet the family cat. Our skin feels tight and dry no matter how much lotion you slap on, and our noses suffer from dry nasal passages which can cause frequent nosebleeds. On top of that, low humidity can make the duration of colds and the flu longer when nasal passages are so dry, since colds and the flu spread faster in dry conditions. Low humidity is a large contributor to the reason behind the spike in cold and flu season.
So how do you know if the humidity level is where it should be? First you need to find out what the humidity level really is. If your thermostat doesn't measure humidity, a hygrometer will, and you can buy one at a local hardware store for a low cost.
Ideal humidity levels should be between 40% and 50% This will help support optimal health and comfort. If your humidity is below 25%, it becomes very unhealthy for you and your home, and you should consider investing in a humidifier.
Finding The Right Humidifier For Your Home
Humidifiers have many benefits for dry conditions, and they help maintain healthy living conditions. There are several different kinds of humidifiers. The most common is a Cool Mist Evaporative Humidifier. These humidifiers produce clean, mineral-free water vapor through the use of a wick filter. They use little power, and the fans can be powerful enough to cover a large amount of space, although they can be noisier than other humidifiers. The wick filter will need to be replaced every couple of months.
Warm Mist Humidifiers use a heat element that boils the water and produces a warm steam. These are quieter than the cool mist humidifiers, and do not require a filter. Some models also include a medicine cup to disperse soothing vapors in the room. They do use more power though, because of the heating method, and these humidifiers are typically limited to small rooms.
An Ultrasonic Humidifier, warm or cool mist, is extremely quiet, and has little power consumption. These units produce a very fine vapor mist, almost like fog. Some units can produce a "white dust" from impurities in the water that fall on objects near the humidifier. In that case, you may want to use distilled water.
UV Germ-Free Humidifiers features technology that uses ultraviolet light to kill 99.9% of germs, viruses and bacteria present in the water of the humidifier. These humidifiers are available in warm and cool mist models. With heavy use, the UV bulb will need to be replaced every few months.
Direct Pour-In Humidifiers include a tank that you pour water in from a pitcher or container of water. These are very quiet, and easy to clean. The standing water in the tank increases the potential for mold and bacteria growth, so it requires frequent cleaning or wiping out of the tank.
Whole House Console Humidifiers are great to cover very large, dry areas of the house, and they are capable of producing between 8-14 gallons of moisture output per day. This is the only type of humidifier that can cover the whole house, or one whole floor of a house. Less maintenance is required because it doesn't need to be filled as frequently, and it is safer and more natural to use. A bacteria treatment additive will most likely need to be used to inhibit bacteria and mold growth.
Furnace Humidifiers For a permanent, but more expensive solution, humidifiers can be added to your furnace, so every time the heat kicks on, water is dispersed through the vents.
Humidifiers do need frequent cleaning, usually daily if the humidifier is on constantly. The standing water in the humidifiers can promote the growth of bacterias and mold if left in the container for more than a day. So it is suggested that the water be emptied and refilled with fresh water on a daily basis.
For more information, you can visit this buying guide to help you further choose which humidifier is best in your home.
Alternative Options for Low Humidity
It isn't likely to find as good of a solution to low humidity as adding a humidifier to your home, but there are a couple of alternative ways to add humidity to your home here and there. Anything that puts steam in the air, such as a hot shower, or a pot of boiling water, disperses moisture in the air. When taking a shower, it would be beneficial to leave the bathroom door open (if able and willing) instead of venting the bathroom. This way the steam will be released in the house instead of outside, where it vents to. To add some moisture to the kitchen air, try boiling water, and you can even add cinnamon or orange and other citrus peels to produce a nice aroma. If you have houseplants, try setting them on a tray of water. This will be beneficial to your plants, and the water will also evaporate into the air. Misting your houseplants every day with water also creates the same effect. Hanging wet towels in each room presents a way to put more moisture in the air.