The advantages and reasons for using a humidifier in the winter months are not always obvious to homeowners. Maintaining proper humidity levels benefits your health, your comfort, your home’s efficiency and your investment.
In Southwestern Ontario, we get a lot of cold damp days in the winter. Even on damp days, when you heat the air in your home, humidity levels drop. Warm air expands and relative humidity drops. If you wake up in the winter with dry eyes and nose, it’s because the relative humidity in your home is too low.
Humidity allows the tiny hairs in your nose to move and do a better job of filtering out bacteria and viruses. Proper humidity can actually lower the chance of getting a cold or the flu.
We all know that if we have a cold, a humidifier helps us breath easier and soothes the throat. Humidity also has a major impact on skin conditions like eczema. Dry air also dries out your skin which can cause itchy scaly rashes. Proper hydration and humidity can also lessen snoring.
Comfort and Efficiency
Indoor air in winter, can have humidity levels at around 10% without a humidifier. The ideal winter humidity level for your home is between 30% and 40%.
Increasing humidity in the air will make your home feel warmer. Air that is 70°F and 10% humidity will feel like 67°F. Air that is 70°F with 50% humidity feels like 69°F.
After you have installed a humidifier, you will find that you can keep your thermostat at a lower setting while maintaining comfort. Keeping your thermostat just a degree lower will add up to a lot of energy savings over the winter.
If you pet your cat or dog in the winter, you can get a static electricity shock if the air is too dry. Other signs of static electricity are unruly hair and socks stuck to shirts. Any of these nuisance shocks will be eliminated by proper humidification.
Protecting Your Investment
Static electricity can be an expensive problem as well. Static electricity in your home can damage sensitive electrical equipment like computers.
Wood furniture does not do well in a dry home. Joints on chairs that are glued can shrink and come loose, causing a creaky chair. Cabinet doors can get out of alignment or warp if your house is too dry.
If you’ve installed a hardwood floor, the manufacturer will have humidity recommendations. A dry home will cause gaps between the boards to grow. Flooring manufacturers will not honor warranties if you have not maintained proper humidity levels.
Tropical plants are also susceptible to low humidity. Leaves may get brown at the tips or die off completely. The health of your plants is an indication of the health of your home’s air.
Types of Humidifiers
Whole home humidifiers are installed on your furnace. There are three common types of furnace humidifiers.
Steam humidifiers use less water than other types. 100% of the water used is converted to humidity. Steam humidifiers are also the healthiest choice. They don’t have moisture filled pads that can be a place for bacteria to grown. Maintenance is simple, just clean it annually. A steam humidifier actually cleans itself during the heating season.
Bypass humidifiers are quite simple and trouble free. Water runs over a pad. The moisture evaporates into the air as your furnace fan blows over the pad. These types of humidifiers can deliver a lot of moisture into the air. The drawback is that they waste a certain amount of water. They have a drain pipe that needs to be kept clean.
Drum humidifiers are more common in older homes. A pad wrapped around a rotating drum soaks up water from a tray. Moisture is evaporated into the air, much like a bypass humidifier. Drum humidifiers have more moving parts and are more likely to fail. They require annual cleaning and pad changes.
The Hayter Group sells and services Honeywell Whole Home Steam and Bypass Humidifiers. New humidifiers are often installed with new furnaces. We’ll also service your existing humidifier, when we service your furnace. If you don’t have a humidifier or need one replaced, we are happy to meet with you to make sure that you get the model that will best fit your needs.