Winter is a season that certainly presents its share of both problems and benefits, but even the most devoted snow lover could probably do without dry air. If dry winter air is causing discomfort in your house, a humidifier could be the solution, and it helps to know your options.
Is Humidification Necessary?
A humidifier adds moisture to the air in your home, boosting humidity and combating the side effects of dry air. More prevalent in winter, dry air isn’t a problem for everyone, but if it is, you’ve probably noticed the symptoms:
- Chapped lips and dry skin
- Dry and irritated throat and nasal passages
- Static electricity issues, including clingy clothing and minor electric shocks.
Your house itself can also display symptoms of dry air, and if low humidity is a problem, you can also spot the following signs:
- Dried-out and split wooden fixtures
- Dry, loose furniture joints
- Dust buildup
- Squeaky stairs and floorboards.
Keeping the humidity in your home at the optimal level – between 30 and 50 percent – can also slightly lower your winter heating bills because moist air feels warmer and allows you to use your furnace less.
What are Your Options?
If you’d like to add moisture to your indoor air, you have a few different options. Humidifiers break down into two categories: portable models and whole-house humidifiers. Which type you choose depends on your specific needs and budget.
- Portable humidifiers are the most cost-effective solution, generally running between $30 and $180. The downside to a portable humidifier is its limited range: each one can effectively add moisture to the air in a single room, but it would take several of them to thoroughly eliminate dry air throughout your home.
- Whole-house humidifiers, as their name suggests, can add moisture to the air throughout your entire home. A whole house humidifier works with your HVAC to deliver warmed and humidified air to your living space, and includes a built-in humidistat to automatically adjust the moisture levels. A whole-house humidifier typically costs $600 to $1,200, including installation.