Humidifiers – The Steamy Truth
The Service Detectives Survival Guide: How To Save Time, Money, and Your Health
Oh, how we don’t miss the muggy, stifling humidity of the summer months! But oh, how we hate the itchy, skin cracking dryness of the winter. It seems in Southern Illinois that we can never win, no matter which way we go. When it’s hot, the humidity feels like it’s killing us, but when it’s cold, the dryness is just as bad. Fortunately, there is an answer to our prayers – the whole-home humidifier. With more than 60% of our indoor time spent in homes, these devices can be literal lifesavers; and they’re pretty kind to the pocketbook too!
In this latest installment of our Service Detectives survival guide series, we talk about whole-home humidifiers, their benefits, and the effects they can have on health, happiness, and cashflow.
A Whole-Home What?
We’ve all heard of dehumidifiers. Most air conditioners have them built-in with the dry setting, or you’ve got those dinky little units people have floating around on counters and bedside tables. For most though, humidifiers are the constant companion at your bedside table filled with medicated liquid to open your cracked, dry sinuses in the depths of winter. These come with an assault course of maintenance requirements, never-ending refills, fortunes spent on medicated liquid decongestants because they never seem quite to get the job done, constant cleaning, declogging, fighting over blocked nozzles, heater burns and so much more.
Humidifiers have been around since the early ’60s, but the residential whole-home humidifier is still a relatively new technology, with us for only a few decades. Most people don’t realize quite why they experience so many health issues during the winter; they certainly don’t realize how much of it is related to the dry, stale air in their homes.
Why Is My Air So Dry?
During the winter, furnaces run more and more frequently. It’s great to heat your home and come back from a chilly adventure outside to a lovely warm living room, but your furnace is also reducing the humidity in your home. Warming the air in the house removes moisture, and the more it circulates through the system, the dryer it will get. Once your relative humidity drops below 30%, you begin to really notice problems.
The Problem With Dry Air
Ever notice how dry and cracked your nose gets during the winter? Do you get a little pain when you breathe? Dry mouth all the time that no amount of coffee, tea, soda, or water seems to cure? That’s the dry air in your home. Dry, itchy eyes that have you squinting all the time? Dry air in your home. Restless sleeping because your nose gets clogged, and you can’t breathe, with a mouth like the Sahara desert? Dry air in your home. Husband snoring like a freight train instead of his usual chainsaw? Dry air in your home. It’s even worse for people living with asthma who experience a massive increase in infection, inflammation, and asthma attacks during the winter months. Dry, cold air aggravates the airways, causing all manner of respiratory issues.
That’s Not All Your Troubles!
Beyond the impact on you and your family, dry air can be devastating to the infrastructure and contents of your home. Most homes are wooden construction, and a drop in humidity sucks
moisture out of that wooden frame. This leaves them prone to cracking and splintering. In the same way, your furniture is just as at risk. Older furniture that is well taken care of tends to be protected by a clear coat sealant maintained through waxing, but most newer furniture is either solid board or compressed board construction, unsealed and extremely prone to damage from changes in humidity. Even one season of very dry exposure can cause irreparable damage.
So we know that dry air in the home causes all manner of issues, but what’s the advantage of these new-fangled whole-home systems over the Vicks humidifier that’s bubbling away on your bedside table? The benefits and advantages can be universal in some instances, but a lot also depends upon what kind of unit you get. There are several different types out there, but we are focusing on what our service experts agree are the two best systems – fan-powered water and steam.
Fan powered water humidifiers are smaller units that attach directly to the air return in your home’s heating and air system. The built-in fan pulls hot
air from the furnace and passes it through a pad saturated with running water (some systems use a direct water line and constantly replace that water, where others recycle the same water without draining). Evaporation within the tray causes moisture to be pushed back through the home’s ducting system with the hot air, increasing humidity throughout the house.
The most significant advantage to the fan-powered water humidifier is its small size, allowing it to be installed on units for which larger systems would be impractical.
The Rolls Royce of humidifier systems, steam humidifiers are the most effective and efficient system to install. Rather than using a water-saturated pad to impart moisture into warm air, steam humidifiers use electric probes to boil water, which is then misted directly into your warm air return to be pushed through the system. Where the fan-powered system slowly increases humidity, steam systems operate much more quickly and can be much more accurately controlled. Fan systems can maintain a range of humidity levels, but steam systems can consistently maintain specific humidity levels, able to make changes on-demand.
While each system has benefits and features specific to itself, there are several features that both possess
- Whole-home humidifiers are extremely energy efficient, with many using as little power as a 25w bulb
- Whole-home humidifiers can be controlled from most smart thermostats, eliminating the need to adjust the level on the unit itself.
- With outside temperature sensors, these units can control humidity to prevent damaging frost buildup in the ceiling and attic spaces.
- Research has shown that maintaining a healthy humidity level between 30-50% during the winter months helps reduce fevers, clear colds up more quickly, and can even reduce the frequency of flu because higher humidity deactivates the flu virus.
- Better and more consistent humidity control helps reduce cold spots through the home, by producing a more even heat. That back bedroom that always feels like an icicle can finally start to warm up a little thanks to your investment!
Pennies In The Pocket
The best feature of the whole-home humidifier may be the savings on your energy bill. Higher humidity levels produce greater comfort at lower temperatures. 68 degrees at 40% humidity feels just as warm as 74 degrees at 20% humidity. Whole-home humidifiers reduce the strain on your furnace by making the heat more efficient and allowing you to operate them at lower temperatures. With the price of electricity consistently rising each year, this can seriously ease the strain on your pocketbook, with savings as high as 20% on your power bill over the course of the year.
Dampen That Air!
Health savings, money savings, property savings – where could you go wrong? Whole-home humidifiers are becoming more and more commonplace as people come to realize quite how much unnecessary trauma they’re putting themselves through by continuing to live exhausted and troubled lives in the dry, cold air that Southern Illinois forces on us each year.
Here at Service Detectives, we are committed to ensuring that you have access to all the information you need to make an informed and educated decision about what is best for you and your family. That’s why we have produced our survival guide series to advise better. We do more because we care more; your family is our family too!
Our service experts all agree that fan-powered and steam humidifiers are essential to living a safer, and more comfortable life. Call one of our friendly team members today at 618.993.HELP  to schedule your consultation with one of our Breathe Better service experts, book online, or our handy-dandy contact page.