I suppose there are 2 sides to winter; you love it or hate it. I can already hear the “duh, captain obvious” comments. But honestly, I don’t know too many people who are simply content with winter. For all of the summer heat lovers, this is your season to either be moody for 4 months until the temperatures begin to rise or flee to the a warmer state (AKA snow birds). For all the winter lovers, well the heat is behind you so you no longer have to stress over sweating, sun burn and unbearable humidity and you now get to look forward to the snow and festive lighting.
Personally, my favorite season is fall but I find the change in seasons to be somewhat of a relief in that I definitely couldn’t handle 12 months of any one season. It helps break things up and keep things interesting. Winter does bring many likable aspects such as the snow which you can have snow ball fights, build snowmen, make snow angels, or simply take in the view. Many find that the cooler air is more tolerable than the summer heat. Fireplaces are lit and helping you stay cozy. Its the time of year for hot chocolate and egg-nog. It’s also a sign that four big holidays are right around the corner; Halloween, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Really and truly, there are many great things about winter if you can look past the frigid temperatures. But I’ll tell you what, winter brings 2 things that really don’t sit well with me. The first is open for debate and no I’m not “scrooge” but why does it always feel like Christmas is 2 months long? I mean, why on earth are Christmas decorations out before Halloween, in many cases, and most definitely before Thanksgiving? In fact, I don’t see much of a Thanksgiving section ever. And coming from a guy who used to work at Meijer (a mid-western superstore for anyone reading that inst familiar, similar to Walmart), Christmas music is great and all but not when the same 8-10 songs are looped over and over again for a month and a half.
Now the second and less debatable downfall of winter…. dry air. Winter air is cold and dry, period. Some people are probably telling themselves that a good thing though as they hate summer because of the humid air that makes them sweat 10 seconds into stepping outside and I agree, I hate that feeling too. But what I hate even more is nose bleeds, sore throats, split cuticles, dry hands, and static. Oh, my wife and female friends hate the “frizz effect” which makes great hair days a nightmare. So do you just accept things for the way they are? It’s not even the days that get to me, its waking up like death. Luckily, you can fix the situation.
Types of Humidifiers
Warm Mist Humidifiers. These can be great aids for the dry, winter air. They aren’t big and bulky so they shouldn’t take up much room, the warm mist helps keep temperatures warmer so your furnace might get a little bit of a break, and you can add various things to the water to create smells or prevent the spread of airborne viruses. Just be certain that children can’t get too close to it or you don’t accidentally spill it on yourself because the water is very hot. This type of humidifier is recommended for smaller rooms only and will not be effective in a larger space.
Ultrasonic Humidifers. Sounds pretty cool, right? The technology is pretty amazing. The system uses ultrasonic waves and vibrations to breakdown the water into very tiny drops that are then blown out into the run by a fan. This is purely a humidifier and no additional heat will come from this system as with the warm mist versions. These humidifiers work very quickly and the dry air will be gone in very little time but don’t worry, just because it is more efficient doesn’t mean you have to worry about a much higher price. Since the ultrasonic versions don’t use heat it removes that component which not only saves you on the upfront costs (less parts=less money) but it will be cheaper to operate. It will also save you on time since you won’t be changing any filters.
Evaporative Humidifiers. This is the most common and longest running type of humidifier. It takes the centuries of people boiling pots or pans of water in their home to humidify their home and adds on to it with a fan to more effectively move the moisture throughout the home. This style is very similar to a warm mist humidifier but it doesn’t always have the need to push out warm air.
Furnace Mounted Humidifier. This is what we use in my home but that doesn’t mean it is the preferred or right choice for everyone. It’s going to cost you more upfront but the convenience of this option is unmatched by the other versions in my opinion. The other options are good for a single room and an average home has 5 or more rooms so you either buy and maintain multiple humidifiers or you constantly move the humidifier from one room to the next. A furnace mounted humidifier is built for the entire home so once it is installed you simply make sure water is flowing to it and you dial in the desired setting on your humidistat. Just make sure you change out the filter pad, especially if you have hard water like I do.
Benefits of Humidity in the Air vs Dry Air
- Reduce Nose Bleeds
- Skin won’t be as dry
- Reduced Static
- Better comfort in the day but more importantly at night while you are sleeping
- Research shows that you are less likely to get sick when humidity is present since bacteria prefers the dry air. That is a pretty good benefit for you and your family
Unlike using an air conditioner in the summer which serves two main functions of cooling the air and dehumidifying the home, the furnace really is a one trick pony and simply provides heat. For this reason, there isn’t the same argument that fixing the duct system and thermal envelope will remove your need for buying many Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) enhancements like a dehumidifier or fan. Sealing up your duct work and improving your thermal envelope will definitely remove the need for space heaters as your warm air will now be reaching all areas of the home and then the thermal envelope will be holding that warm air inside but you will need a supplementary source to push moisture into the air if you don’t want to suffer. If you are experiencing dry skin and static then it might be time to contact a local HVAC contractor and see what improvements can be made to boost your comfort and quality of life.