Winter is in full swing. Along with it comes flu season, cold dry air outside, and heated, dry air inside. After dealing with runny noses and itchy skin, I’ve forsaken my morning runs outside for the comfort of the treadmill away from the elements at my local gym. Even after minimizing my time outside, I still find my lips chapped and my skin itchy. I looked into it, and I discovered what’s missing – humidity.
Humidity measures the amount of water vapor in the air. When it gets colder outside, the air cannot hold as much moisture, and the humidity drops. During the summer, humidity can be brutal, but that’s because hotter air holds much more moisture than colder air. The effect of the drop in temperature during the winter months often results in drier air – both inside and outside your house.
Effects of Low Humidity
Dry air, combined with a running furnace and closed windows, can cause a number of health problems inside your home. In our house, I try to stay on top of things to keep illnesses to a minimum, but even keeping the house warm didn’t keep my son from complaining of a sore throat.
When the humidity is low, it is harder for your body to maintain its regular moisture levels. This can result in dry, scaly skin, irritated sinuses, itchiness, and chapped lips. The “winter itch” is made worse by the dry heat of the furnace. Cracked, irritated skin can provide easy access for harmful bacteria to enter your body. To get the humidity back into the air, I decided to install a humidifier in the house.
Benefits of Using a Humidifier
Humidifiers work to put moisture back in the air by emitting water vapor. Single-room humidifiers create a vapor to restore the humidity to a bedroom or common area. A whole-home humidifier attaches to the furnace, and the heated air blows across wet water coils and picks up the moisture, delivering it to the entire house. The increased moisture levels help alleviate dry skin, chapped lips, nosebleeds and other pesky cold-weather conditions. I’ve found that keeping a humidifier going in my son’s room keeps him sleeping through the night easier, which lets me rest easy as well.
Types of Humidifiers
If you are looking through a list of humidifiers, you might find yourself overwhelmed with the number of options. Before committing, think about your personal needs. There are small humidifiers for a single room. There are even whole house humidifiers to bring moisture back to your entire home.
How Much Do Humidifiers Typically Cost?
If your home consistently suffers from issues due to dry air or low humidity, you’ll find that a humidifier is worth the investment. Personal humidifiers can run as low as $30 whereas higher-end models can be priced as high as $300. It really depends on personal preference and the needs of the individual. If you have to humidify several rooms, the easiest way to go may be to buy a whole-home humidifier. For just one person and a single room, a smaller model may be the best option.
Maintaining Your Humidifier
While having a humidifier in your home can offer you peace of mind against winter’s dry, itchy ailments, it is important to maintain its upkeep to save yourself time and money in the long-run. Here are a few tips to keep your humidifier running smoothly:
- Clean it annually.
If kept unclean, scale, rust, and hard water deposits can accumulate along the inside of your humidifier. This can diminish the amount of moisture a humidifier can release into a room. Routine cleaning can keep your investment running safely and efficiently.
- Check for leaks periodically.
If your humidifier is leaking water in your room, you should turn off the water supply until the leak’s source is found and fixed. Running a broken humidifier can be dangerous to your house and your health. Proper maintenance and routine checks are a priority.
- Always have a clean filter in place.
A humidifier filter should be changed at least annually. Once it gets dirty with scale and mineral deposits, it is near impossible to clean them! There are a couple types of filters – paper filters and ceramic filters. The ceramic filters last longer and are more durable, but they’re more expensive. Paper filters wear out more quickly, but they are also cheaper. These usually need to be replaced once a month during the dry season. Portable humidifier filters also need to be changed regularly, because if they’re not able to absorb water, you can harm your humidifier.
No matter which style you decide to go with, adding a humidifier in your home will help make this winter healthier and more comfortable for you and your family.