Dry Winter Air & The Importance Of Humidifiers

Sick of winter yet? We sure are! These cold days have us longing for a warm spring day to spend outside in the sun! But the need for gloves, scarves, layers (and layers), and a puffy coat isn’t the only thing about winter causing us discomfort. What makes winter even more unbearable is the lack of humidity in the air. If the word ‘humidity’ makes you think of a hot August day in the deep south, you might be thinking, “Are you crazy! Humidity is the worst! It’s sticky and sweaty, and it makes my hair frizz.” Yes, there is such a thing as too much humidity; but it’s important for our health and comfort to have the right amount, especially in our home, office, and anywhere else we spend a lot of time. Without the right balance, indoor air can end up being way too dry. Dry air can cause a variety of problems, not only for our comfort and health, but also for the health of our homes. 

Here are just a handful of symptoms you might experience if the air in your home is too dry:
  • Dry, flaky and irritated skin
  • Cracked lips
  • Dry and brittle hair
  • Itchy throat
  • Dry/red eyes
  • Headaches
  • Congestion and dryness in sinuses
  • Bloody nose
  • Snoring, more than usual
  • Asthma and allergy symptoms, worse or more persistent than usual
  • Cold and flu, worse, more often, or prolonged symptoms

Dry air can be equally problematic in your home. Here are some things you might notice:

  • Air feels colder than it is
  • Houseplants dry up faster
  • Wood floors and furniture suffer – cracks, creaks, loose joints, shrinking in size
  • Static Electricity

So, what can you do about it? Thankfully, this is an easy problem to fix. And even better, you’ve got options! There are many different kinds of humidifiers, depending on your specific needs and budget.

Here’s a basic breakdown of the different types of humidifiers:

Central / Whole House Humidifier – Ducted

  • Built into HVAC system
  • Humidifies the entire home
  • Monthly cleaning required
  • Most expensive option

Whole House Humidifier – Console

  • Not attached to HVAC system
  • Humidifies multiple rooms/entire home depending on size
  • Large multi-gallon tank which is refilled every few days
  • Must be cleaned weekly
  • Placed in central location of house

Wick / Evaporative

  • A fan pulls air through a water-saturated wick, and then pushes the air (water vapor) out
  • Cost efficient
  • Humidifies one room
  • Must be cleaned regularly
Steam Vaporizer / Warm Mist
  • Water is boiled until it vaporizes
  • Quiet
  • Typically the least expensive option
  • Humidifies one room
  • Helps the room feel warmer
  • Emits warm/hot steam that can harm small children or animals
Ultrasonic
  • Uses high-frequency vibrations (similar to a speaker) to push tiny droplets of water into the air
  • Quiet
  • No filters to replace
  • Must be cleaned regularly

Don’t feel like running to the store? Not ready to shell out your hard-earned cash for a humidifier? Need a quick fix? Here are a few things you can do to add a little moisture to the air in your home using items you already own:
  • Lay or hang your laundry out to dry, instead of using the machine
  • Boil water on the stove, in a pot or kettle
  • Fill a few vases or decorative bowls with water and set them out where they won’t be in the way – even better, set them on a sunny window sill
  • Shower with the bathroom door open
So, if your lips are cracked, your eyes are dry, or that cold just won’t quit, it might be time to consider a humidifier… or a couple of nice vases!
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