Why Is a Humidifier More Complementary to a Heater?
A humidifier can be a great way of fine-tuning your humidity levels and keeping your indoor air comfortable. Though they are helpful all year round, humidifiers are especially useful when the heat is running. There are a few key reasons that a good humidifier is more important during the colder months.
Air Is Normally Drier in Winter
A big part of the reason humidifiers are used alongside heaters so much is simply because of the time of year. Usually, heaters are run during the chillier months. In most climates, winter weather is automatically drier. Snow adds a little moisture to the air, but it cannot compare to the humidity caused by heavy summer rainfalls. The lower precipitation levels of winter lead to air that is fairly crisp and dry. On average, humidity is about 8% lower during winter months.
The low humidity during winter can be problematic for both you and your home. Without a humidifier, you might encounter all the unpleasant side effects of low humidity, such as:
- Chapped lips
- Itchy eyes
- Cracks in wood furniture
- Dry, cracking skin
- Static electricity shocks
- Increased cold, flu, and allergy symptoms
All of these symptoms tend to appear most often in winter, even when your heater is not running. Winter has such unpleasantly low humidity levels that it can make your indoor air feel excessively dry for months. Therefore, most people find that winter is the ideal time to be running a humidifier. Since heaters are also a necessity during winter, humidifiers end up being used alongside heaters quite often.
Heaters Remove a Lot of Moisture From the Air
Both heaters and air conditioners automatically reduce humidity as part of their work. However, the way they do so is slightly different. In an air conditioner, moisture is directly removed from the air. As air passes over the evaporator coils of an AC system, moisture condenses and drips away down a drain line. This means that the air blowing from an AC is actually quite dry, even though the higher humidity of summer tends to make things feel sticky nonetheless.
The effect of heaters on humidity is less direct, but it is actually more impactful. Heaters do not take moisture out of the air itself. However, once the air is warmed past a certain point, it can absorb a lot of moisture. It then draws moisture away from your body, making your skin feel much drier. Essentially, heaters cause much lower levels of relative humidity. This makes the air seem uncomfortably dry especially if your heater is cranked up super high. Using a humidifier to add extra moisture to the warmed air allows relative humidity levels to go back to a more comfortable level.
Higher Humidity Makes Your Heater Work Less
Adding extra humidity to your air does more than just make you feel comfortable. It also has a benefit for your heating system. The relationship between humidity and temperature is fairly complex. Warm temperatures make the air feel drier, but humid air makes the temperature feel warmer. Humidity makes the perceived temperature higher because of the way your body manages its own temperature. The human body tries to cool itself by evaporating heat in the form of fine moisture droplets on the skin. When it is humid, less moisture can evaporate, so more heat lingers on the surface of your skin. This is the reason that the same temperature after a rainstorm feels so much higher.
You can use this effect to help your heater run more efficiently. By running your humidifier regularly, you can make a room feel warmer without having to run your heater. Many homeowners who get a humidifier find they can turn their thermostat down by a few degrees without getting any noticeable difference. Humidifiers use less power than a heater, so this is a great way to save on energy. It can be far more eco friendly, and it also results in savings for you. If you are concerned about your utility bills during the winter, then a humidifier is a great idea. It can save you about $25 to $50 per month.
Stay Comfortable All Winter With a Humidifier
Ultimately, there are several reasons to use a humidifier alongside your heater. How can you pick the best option? First of all, you need to decide between a whole house and a standalone model. A whole-house humidifier is one that is hooked up directly to your heater. Every time the heater runs, it will add humidity to the air. The benefit of this style is its convenience and its ability to humidify the entire home. They are also a little more energy efficient. Standalone humidifiers are smaller models that just humidify one room at a time. They are a good choice if you just want to add a little humidity to one or two rooms. With their much lower cost and lack of installation requirements, they are much easier to use.
For both whole house and standalone models, you can choose between humidifiers that work with evaporative, steam, or atomizing humidifiers. An evaporative humidifier has a pad of damp air that gradually humidifies when the moisture evaporates. These provide a fine, even humidifying effect, but they need to be installed alongside a fan and heating system to get the full effect. Spray humidifiers spritz out water through a nozzle. They are quite cheap, but the nozzle can get plugged from mineral build-up. Steam humidifiers heat water to turn it into steam. They are considered the most effective humidifier, but they are costly and take longer to install.
What’s the Right Humidity Level?
Once you have the right humidifier for your heater, you will need to set it to the correct humidity level. The best humidity level for your home will depend on both your personal preference and the current temperature. A general rule of thumb is to have your humidity somewhere between 40% to 50%. This is ideal for human comfort while preventing mold growth.
Those who prefer their temperature on the higher side might want to add a little extra humidity to counteract the drying effects of hot air. Some people set their humidity as high as 60 because they want to get the maximum amount of utility bill savings. However, if you have a problem with condensation building up on your windows, you may want to lower the humidity to around 45% or 40%.
Hoff Heating & AC can help you find and install the right humidifier for your home. We can also assist you with fine-tuning your heating system to get it operating efficiently for winter. Our team also provides a variety of other HVAC services, including repairing, installing, and maintaining heaters and air conditioners. We do geothermal services and indoor air quality audits and solutions as well. To schedule an appointment or learn more about our services, call now. We’re available to serve customers in O’Fallon, MO, and the neighboring areas.