With the summer humidity behind us, North Carolina residents across the state are bracing for the cold, dry air of winter. This lack of humidity often leads to sore throats, itchy skin, dry eyes and other ailments.
Indoor humidity in the winter can quickly drop from an ideal rage of 30 to 50 percent to a low of 10 percent. A humidifier can help bring up these humidity levels and ease some of your problems.
Different Types of Humidifiers
While all humidifiers work to add moisture to the air, there are different ways in which they can do that. Many consumers are familiar with ultrasonic humidifiers, which use a vibrating nebulizer to emit water. Evaporative models use a fan to blow air over a wet wick. Both of these are cold-air models. Warm-mist models, on the other hand, boil water before cooling the steam.
All types have pros and cons that need to be considered. Evaporative models cost little to run, but the wicks can grow mold if not properly taken care of and are expensive to replace. Ultrasonics are also quiet and inexpensive to run, and they don't have any wicks to change. They can create a white powder if your home has hard water. Warm-mist humidifiers cost more to run and may pose a burn hazard, so they aren't recommended for homes with young children.
Room Size Matters
When choosing a humidifier, the size of the room is one of the most important things to consider.
Humidifiers come in various shapes and sizes and they're suited for different environments. Tabletop humidifiers are the most common and least expensive. These are good for humidifying a single room. Tabletop humidifiers do require a bit of cleaning and maintenance. The water will need to be replaced daily and they should be cleaned at least once a week.
Console humidifiers are larger and can be used to humidify a few rooms at a time. They the size of a small piece of furniture, but can be easily moved around to anywhere there is an outlet. Their size, though, can make them cumbersome to fill and clean.
If you have forced heat – like many in the south – you may want to consider an in-duct system. An induct system works like an evaporated system, but is connected to your plumbing and humidifies the entire house. These require the least maintenance and are the most cost efficient to run, but require professional installation.
Humidifiers come with a variety of features, but one that is particularly important is a humidistat, which measures the humidity in the room and adjusts it accordingly. Too much humidity can lead to condensation and mold. Some cheaper models, however, don't come with one. An inexpensive humidistat can be purchased at a home improvement store.
For more information and humidifier ratings, visit the Consumer Reports website.