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Humidifiers – Part 2 of 3

Financial Benefits of Humidifying Your Home
Controlling humidity can also help you save money on energy bills. The heat our bodies feel is a combination of temperature and humidity. In other words, the more humid the air, the warmer you feel. If you add humidity to dry, heated air in the winter, you can set your thermostat lower and still be comfortable.

Types of Humidifiers
When selecting a humidifier, take into account the purchase price, operating costs and maintenance costs of the unit. Some models consume more energy than others, so choosing a model that is right for your home and budget is important. Some of the most popular types of humidifier are listed below.

    • Warm mist humidifiers use a heating system to release a warm, clean mist into the air. This type of humidifier tends to warm the room slightly. You can also add medication to the air with a warm mist humidifier. Warm mist humidifiers differ from steam vaporizers because the steam is cooled before it exits the machine. This means there’s no risk of steam burns. You should frequently clean the heating element of warm mist humidifiers according to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent mineral deposit buildup.
    • Steam vaporizers use two electrodes to turn water into steam. The vapor exits the unit and adds humidity to the home. Some models allow you to add medication into the air. The electrodes should be cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent mineral deposit buildup.
    • Cool mist humidifiers operate in one of two ways. Impeller humidifiers use a rapidly-rotating disc to propel water through a screen, creating water vapor. Evaporative humidifiers use a fan to move air through a filter or wick saturated with water. The air gains moisture as the water held in the filter evaporates, adding humidity to a home in the form of a cool, invisible mist. The filter also traps minerals and impurities from the water. Many people prefer cool mist humidifiers because, unlike vaporizers and warm mist humidifiers, they don’t have a heating element inside. Cool mist humidifiers are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
    • Console humidifiers work like evaporative humidifiers to humidify the whole house.
    • Whole-house humidifiersare larger and usually cover multiple rooms or a small house or apartment. In-duct  or whole-house humidifier systems operate like central heat or air. A console-style whole-house humidifier is a supersized version of a tabletop single-room humidifier — with a larger refillable tank (an 8-gallon tank can humidify up to about 1,700 square feet, depending on the model) and casters so you can easily park it in a central but out-of-the-way spot in your house.Other whole-home humidifiers connect permanently to your water supply, so they don’t have be filled with water every day or two as with tank-style humidifiers. These humidifiers are installed in the ductwork, next to your furnace. This type of humidifier should be installed by a heating and ventilation professional.

Whether you choose a warm mist or cool mist humidifier is a matter of personal taste. Both types raise the humidity level and make your home more comfortable. The cool mist humidifier is the most effective in adding moisture to the air: it works faster, doesn’t make the room hot and lasts longer. Also, with a cool mist humidifier there is no risk of being scalded with hot water or steam.

Warm mist humidifiers and steam vaporizers produce very hot water and steam. Use caution when operating them.

Too Much Humidity

Be careful not to add too much humidity to your home. When warm, moist air comes in contact with a cold, dry surface, the water in the air condenses, creating water droplets. Your humidistat is set too high if this moisture is excessive. There are several ways to determine excess humidity:

  • Frequent fogging of windows may indicate too much humidity. The appropriate relative humidity allows only slight condensation along the lower edges or corners of windows.
  • Drop three ice cubes into a glass, add water and stir. Wait three minutes. If moisture forms on the outside of the glass, the air is likely too humid.
  • Moisture buildup or mold on closet walls or room ceilings and walls indicates high humidity.

Keep in mind that a tight, energy-efficient house holds more moisture. Adjust your humidistat until you reach an appropriate humidity level. Additionally, you may want to run a kitchen or bath ventilating fan or open a window briefly if the humidity level gets too high.

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