Winter is coming soon, and that means running your furnace non-stop to beat the bitter cold in Illinois. It’s a necessary part of the season, but it can cause its own set of problems. In winter, the air isn’t only colder but drier, as the humidity drops considerably. Then as the air cycles through your furnace, it gets dehumidified even further until the moisture in the air gets dangerously low.
The humidity level in your home has a significant impact on your indoor air quality. If it drops below 30 percent, it fosters airborne allergens and other contaminants like viruses, leading to colds and flu. If you want to control your IAQ during heating season, you need to invest in a whole-house humidifier.
How Whole-House Humidifiers Work
Unlike portable, stand-alone humidifiers, which can humidify only a single room at a time, whole-house humidifiers are integrated directly into your HVAC system. This adds moisture to the heated air right at the source before it’s circulated throughout your entire home via your ductwork.
Another thing that sets whole-house humidifiers apart is that they don’t just pump moisture into the air, but rather give you the ability to control the humidity level in your house and adjust it to your personal comfort level. Most stand-alone humidifiers can’t regulate their amount of humidification. As a result, your humidity can end up too high instead of too low. If humidity levels get above 50 percent, it fosters mold and mildew, bacteria, and other contaminants.
Fortunately, your whole-house humidifier comes with a humidistat, which is like a thermostat for humidity. It measures the humidity level in your home with a hygrometer so that you can keep it in the ideal comfort zone — between about 35 and 45 percent — at all times.
Of course, it should be noted that whole-house humidifiers only work to improve your indoor air quality during heating season. During the spring and summer months, when the humidity levels go through the roof, you need something to dry the air out. Your A/C, much like your furnace, works well in this regard. But if you want the same humidity control that you have in winter, you may want to invest in a whole-house dehumidifier as well.
Benefits of Whole-House Humidifiers
In addition to improving your indoor air quality, there are a number of other benefits to investing in a whole-house humidifier, such as:
- Saving energy. Raising the humidity level in your home makes the air feel warmer than it actually is. If you’re using a whole-house humidifier, you can lower your thermostat by a few degrees, saving energy without any reduction in comfort.
- Improved health. We’ve covered how whole-house humidifiers reduce airborne contaminants, thus mitigating allergies, asthma, flu germs, and more. But there are even more health benefits. The dry air also causes dry, flaky skin, chapped lips, sore throats, excessive thirst, and other painful problems. Keeping your humidity at the proper levels will eliminate these issues.
- Preserving your home. Not only does low humidity wreak havoc on your body, it also wreaks havoc on your home and belongings. Your wallpaper starts to peal, your hardwood floors begin separating at the seams, your furniture starts to crack, and even your house plants dry up because there isn’t enough moisture. By maintaining the moisture in the air with a whole-house humidifier, you can keep this damage out of your home.
- Easy maintenance. If you’re using a portable, stand-alone humidifier in your home, you need to take very special care of it. It requires large amounts of expensive distilled water in order to function, which needs to be replaced regularly. In addition, it needs to be cleaned and disinfected every few days, and drained and stored when not in use. Your whole-house humidifier taps into your existing plumbing for its water supply, costing you a few extra cents per month in water bills. Since it’s part of your HVAC system, it obviously doesn’t need special storage arrangements, and all the maintenance that it needs can be performed annually, at the same time as your fall furnace tune-up.
These are just a few of the benefits of installing a whole-house humidifier. If your household suffers from problems related to excessively dry air in the winter months, then a whole-house humidifier may be a good investment for your Highland Park home.
For more advice on raising your indoor air quality with a whole-house humidifier, contact our experts at Carefree Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning today.
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