Throughout the winter months the moisture in the air gets sucked out by the decreasing temperatures, which can have some definite effects on both your body and your home. Many people have to deal with dry skin or chapped lips, but dry air can also lead to more serious health concerns such as more frequent colds and sinus infections, as a result of the dry respiratory tissue being more susceptible to irritation and infection. Your home can feel the effects of dry air too with paint and woodwork cracking, hardwood floors expanding and contracting, and increased mold and mildew growth – all from the decreased moisture. While the most commonly thought of solution is a humidifier there are actually many other ways to address this problem, many of which don’t cost any money at all.
- Turn off the Dryer – hanging clothes to dry inside your home is a great way to reduce your energy consumption and simultaneously add moisture to the air.
- Plug the Shower – when you’re taking a shower plug the drain to keep the water in the bottom. Leave the water there until the next time someone needs to use the shower and then drain. This water will evaporate and increase the humidity in the home.
- Boil Water on the Stove – in many homes the bathroom with a shower in it is too far from the kitchen to raise humidity in that area so boil water on the stove to spread moisture to that area.
- Vent the Dryer Inside – for those loads of laundry that still go through the dryer, install a simple venting kit to keep that air inside.
- Put Containers of Water on top of registers or wood stoves – simply place a container of water on top of floor registers, radiant heating units or wood stoves. The water will evaporate into the home and the air movement from the vents will help distribute it. Be sure the container is made of an appropriate heat resistant product for the location. Plastic or glass bowls may get too hot when placed on a wood stove but a cast iron kettle works perfect.
- Add Some Plants – houseplants are a great way to add humidity to your home. Plants are constantly releasing moisture from their leaves and stems into the air.
Certainly the most effective way to make a major change in humidity is by adding a whole home humidifier attachment to your furnace. In one study this was found to raise humidity levels in the home 28-30%! Generally, the ideal in-home humidity level is 40-50%, which can certainly be achieved with a whole home unit. In addition, using one of these with your HVAC system allows you to regulate the humidity level as it changes seasonally, and keeps you from running it when it’s unnecessary.