Winter months often bring drier air for many parts of the country. While most homes should settle comfortably between 30%-45% humidity, during colder seasons lack of moisture in the air can lead to dry throats and noses. Humidifiers are the answer to your home’s humidity problems. Humidifiers have come a long way over the past decade in both cost of operation and technology built into these devices, making them perfect for battle that pesky winter air.
The Upside of Humidifier Use
Humidifiers are excellent in relieving and preventing dry eyes and skin, sinus attacks and can even help to cut down on your home’s heating cost. As mentioned before, most homes settle anywhere between 30% up to 45% humidity depending on region. On the extreme end, homes should be kept at no more than 55% humidity as any higher could promote mold and mildew growth. On the other end of the spectrum, homes should be at no less than 25% humidity as this can cause your home to feel too dry during long stretches of winter months. If your home falls somewhere toward to lower end of this scale, a humidifier can help with the following:
- Relieve Cold and Allergy Symptoms: Keep nasal passages open and moist is important to increased recovery speed.
- Provide Moisture: Dry air can cause dry sinuses. Adding moisture to the air can prevent nosebleeds and that dry scratching sinus feeling associated with cold and flu season.
- Soothe Dry Skin: Adding humidity to the air can help to soothe scratching, dry or cracked skin and lips.
- Reduce Static: Dry air means more static. Adding a little extra moisture into the air cuts down on static.
- Lower Heating Bill: As air in your home becomes drier the feeling of warmth decreases. This is why most people can handle a higher temperature dry heat over a more humid day at a similar temperature. The same is true for your home. Adding a bit of extra moisture to the air will raise the humidity level and can make your home feel warmer without having to increase your thermostat.
Which humidifier fits your needs?
Below are four popular types of humidifiers and vaporizers on market:
- Cool Mist Evaporative
- Warm Mist
- Warm Mist Vaporizer
Cool Mist Humidifiers
Cool mist humidifiers use natural evaporation to add moisture to the surrounding air.
One of the more common humidifiers out there today is the cool mist humidifier. It uses natural evaporation and is considered to be one of the easiest and cleanest forms of humidification. A wick filter located inside the humidifier absorbs the water in the reservoir. A fan then blows air past this saturated wick causing the water to evaporate into the room upon leaving the unit. This wick also acts as a filter, trapping impurities in the water and preventing them from being released into the air. The downside of cool mist humidifiers is that the fan can produce unwanted noise and the wick filter will need replacing every few months to prevent mold and bacteria from growing in the unit.
Warm Mist Humidifiers
Warm mist humidifiers boil water via a heating element in the humidifier itself. This releases a warm steam into the room.
A warm mist humidifier relies on a heating element in the humidifier unit itself. Unlike a cool mist humidifier, a warm mist humidifier uses its heating element to boil water within the machine, steaming the water and releasing the vapor into the surrounding area. This process allows for impurities and minerals to be boiled off and left behind in the unit before the steam is released into the room. A simple rinse with vinegar helps to clean out the unit from mold growth and bacteria accumulation. If your home generally feels cold during the cooler months, a warm mist humidifier may be a better option than their cool mist counterparts as these humidifiers help heat up the room.
Ultrasonic humidifiers use high frequency sound waves to vibrate a metal diaphragm, breaking the water into an ultra-fine vapor mist or spray.
Ultrasonic humidifiers use high speed vibrations to break water into a fine mist which is then pushed into the room using a small, quiet fan. The mist itself comes out looking like a fog. Because any impurities in the water will be released into the air with the vapor, it is recommended that you use only distilled water in these units. Some models will incorporate a removable filter to help catch any of these minerals before leaving the humidifier. Certain models will also have a small heating core to heat the mist.
Warm Mist Vaporizers
A warm mist vaporizer is a simple, less expensive version of a warm mist humidifier.
Warm mist vaporizers are the less expensive counterpart to the warm mist humidifiers. Generally smaller in size these units are best for small spaces. With a simple design most models will come with an on/off switch an oftentimes won't have a moisture control feature that may be found in a larger warm mist humidifier models. Because of their small size these units will not come with replacement filters meaning distilled water will need to be used to prevent impurities being forced out into the surrounding room.
What Size Humidifier Do You Need?
Humidifiers can be boiled down into three sizes: portable, room and whole home. These sizes can be categorized by water reservoir size, gallon dispersion ratings and recommended effective square footage that a unit is able to accommodate.
Portable humidifier units make up the least expensive of these three categories. These models are best suited for small space applications such as a home office or bedroom. Given their smaller size, these models require more frequent refilling of the water tank and filters. These tend to be the most common humidifiers found in homes.
If a portable humidifier isn’t quite large enough for your space, a room humidifier is the next step up. These units can efficiently handle adding extra humidity to single or multiple rooms depending on space, usually between 600 and 1,200 square feet. Room humidifiers generally have warm and cool mist models as well as the ultrasonic models.
The most expensive of these three common humidifier sizes is of course a whole home system. These units are incorporated into your home’s heating and cooling units and are ideal for homes between 1,700 and 2,700 square feet.