Humidifiers: A Winter Necessity?

February 3, 2016

When winter comes to Colorado, you turn up your thermostat and pull the heavy blankets out of storage. While your furnace provides a welcome reprieve from the harsh winds and frigid temperatures outside, it also dries out the air inside your home. Discover why a standard or steam humidifier might offer the best solution for dryness inside your home.

Humidity Levels Drop During the Winter

During the summer, Colorado residents often welcome low humidity levels. The heat doesn’t feel as extreme because of the air’s reduced moisture content. However, lower humidity during the winter months can make your home feel colder. The longer your furnace runs, the more moisture becomes stripped from the air. Even if the outdoor humidity is within a healthy range, the inside of your home might become too dry.

Keeping your home’s indoor humidity between 40 and 60 percent is a good general comfort range to shoot for, but during the winter but that should not be taken as an iron clad guideline: As outdoor temperatures decrease the indoor humidity level must be reduced, or you will see condensation and ice form on the inside of your windows. Too much indoor humidity can result in mold growth, or possibly cause water damage to your home, so achieving proper indoor humidity levels is important at both ends of the pendulum.

Low Humidity Can Cause Health Concerns

Stephanie Earls of The Gazette in Colorado Springs reports that Colorado winters can introduce health hazards for homeowners. For instance, low humidity often causes dry skin, chapped lips, and respiratory discomfort. You might have a runny nose despite a lack of other cold and flu symptoms, and if you have eczema, you could experience worsening symptoms. While moisturizer and lip balm can help ease the symptoms of dry air, a whole-home humidifier helps address issues related to viral and bacterial pollutants in your home. Low humidity levels offer the ideal environment for particles of the influenza virus. If you increase indoor humidity, those particles can not survive as easily, which means fewer opportunities to develop illnesses.

A high quality air cleaner or UV light for your furnace can help further eliminate dangerous airborne pathogens.

Humidifiers Offer Other Convenient Solutions

In addition to their health benefits, humidifiers also protect your home. If you have wood furnishings or floors, for instance, increasing the air’s moisture content can help keep the wood from warping and cracking. Fine pianos and acoustic musical instruments, many of which may have their own humidifiers, also benefit from whole-home humidifiers.

Which Humidifier Makes Sense For You?

As with many home comfort products, furnace-mounted central humidifiers come in a variety of designs, performance levels, and price ranges. Standard, flow-thru style central humidifiers are very popular, are the most reasonably priced, and are the easiest to maintain. Flow-thru units often do a good job in moderate sized homes that require general assistance with additional humidity. For homes with greater humidification needs, or those requiring specific humidity levels, 24/7, we recommend learning more about central steam humidifiers. Compared to the more basic flow-thru units, central steam humidifiers are considerably more expensive to install and maintain, and have very specific annual maintenance requirements–but the level of performance they deliver is far superior. Central steam units are typically recommended when a flow-thru humidifier is not capable of meeting the required demand.

Maintain Your Humidifier for Optimal Results

While humidifiers can help protect against viruses and other pathogens, a humidifier can also spread germs if it’s not cleaned regularly. Some homeowners choose to perform their own annual maintenance, and if that includes you, be sure to closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions…or, you can ask your HVAC service company to take care of it for you each year.

While portable or travel humidifiers can work acceptably–in limited size areas–whole-home units typically offer more consistent results. And you don’t need to worry about refilling them!

So if you’re tired of nose bleeds, dry skin, and other symptoms of dry Colorado air in the winter, consider having an HVAC professional install a humidifier in your home. It’s a great way to help increase indoor comfort and assist in safeguarding your family’s health and wellbeing.