Cold, dry winter weather hits us all hard outside, but in your own home you should be able to be comfortable, warm and cozy. One household appliance that can help this happen is a humidifier.
Humidifiers come in handy in cold, dry winter months. Dry air can cause breathing issues, chapped lips, dry skin and coughing in human inhabitants; as well as can crack your wooden furniture and musical instruments.
Ask your local HVAC professional for the correct seasonal range in your area. A neat little tool that measures relative moisture is called a hygrometer; it's inexpensive, portable, and will tell you if you need to invest in a humidifier. Depending on the size of your house you can either add a humidifier to your central heating system or you can put free-standing humidifiers in areas that are higher traffic or exceptionally dry.
The simplest way to keep your house from becoming too dry is to have a humidifier attached to your home furnace. This humidifier runs automatically with your furnace when humidity levels fall below a certain point. It will also draw water directly from a water line in your home, a low maintenance way to have a humidifier on an ongoing basis. Furnace humidifiers are designed for specific moisture outputs, rated in gallons per day (GPD).
Here is a good reference for what you'll need in GPD for your square footage:
• 500 sq. ft. and under = 1.5 to 2.0 GPD
• 700-800 sq. ft. = 3.0 to 3.5 GPD
• 1,000-2,000 sq. ft. = 7.0 to 9.0 GPD
• 2,000+ sq. ft. = 10.0 or higher GPD
There are varying kinds of furnace humidifiers and if you are installing one after the home is built make sure to do your research on which type of model will work best for your home according to drainage needs, existing ductwork, and how your furnace is powered. Also keep in mind, no matter what type of furnace humidifier you choose, you'll have to routinely replace the filter to keep the humidifier running optimally.
This may be the way to go if you have a smaller living space, or if you spend most of your time in only a few rooms. For instance, many people enjoy having a portable humidifier running in their bedroom overnight to help them breathe better while sleeping. This can help prevent overnight bloody noses, cracked skin and chapped lips. Portable humidifiers can also be utilized in a living room where the family may spend most of their time relaxing. These portable units can even be moved to room fairly easily.
Depending on the size and portability needed, the downfall of these humidifiers is that they only hold a gallon or two of water at a time and must be watched carefully so they do not run out of water and burn up the motor. The filters on these portable humidifiers must also be viewed and modified regularly because they can easily attract mold from the constant standing water they help filter.
Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist
Humidifiers operate by turning water into vapor, and they can be run on either hot water or cold water. To choose which is best for you, here are some facts. Warm mist humidifiers actually boil the water into a steam that is then released into the room. Warm mist is easier to breathe than cool, although the boiling water could be a safety hazard due to the hot water and heating element. They also require more frequent cleaning than cool mist humidifiers. Cool mist humidifiers are a little more noisy than warm mist, however some models have a “silent” feature that is great for use overnight in bedrooms.
Using a humidifier in your home during winter months is a great idea. Doing your research and checking your budget will help you find the humidifier that is right for you and your family.