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Increase Your Comfort This Winter

If you live in an older home, you may need to add moisture to the air with a humidifier to maintain comfort during the cold winter months.

Too little humidity in your home’s air can produce symptoms such as dry nose, lips, throat and skin. Low humidity can also cause static electricity and cracks in furniture, flooring, cabinetry and paint or peeling wallpaper. Too much humidity can lead to condensation on windows and damage to wood. It also allows bacteria and mold to grow, increasing your risk of contracting colds, allergies and viruses.

In general, people feel comfortable when the relative humidity – a measurement of the amount of moisture in the air – is between 35 – 55%. When selecting a humidifier for your home, consider these issues:

  • Room vs. whole house model. How much space do you need to humidify? Table-top models typically only humidify a single room. Rather than buy multiple units for larger spaces, consider a floor model that can handle your entire house. If you have a forced air heating system, your heating contractor can also provide a model that works through your furnace’s duct system.


  • Health concerns. Warm, moist conditions can be breeding grounds for bacteria, so be sure to clean your unit frequently and add an antibacterial agent to your unit’s water. Slant fin models, which emit a warm mist, use ultraviolet light to remove these harmful bacteria. Steam humidifiers, often referred to as “vaporizers,” boil water to release steam into the air. These units also eliminate bacteria, but can be dangerous around children and have the highest energy costs.


  • Mineral buildup. Over time, dissolved minerals and metals in your water can form dust that can circulate in the air. This can be minimized by using distilled water or buying a model with a demineralization cartridge.