After months of humid Kansas City summer weather, you may be looking forward to some less humid weather. But dry air can cause problems of its own. During the dry winter months, the humidity level in indoor air can drop to as low as 15 percent, far below the recommended humidity level of 30 to 50 percent.
Inadequate humidity levels can cause a range of issues, both to your home and your health. Air that is too dry can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, scratchy throat, dry eyes, dry skin, and nosebleeds. Some viruses can thrive in low humidity, increasing your risk of catching colds or the flu. Your home also suffers the effects of dry air. Wood furniture and floors can shrink, warp, and crack. Dry air also feels cooler on the skin, meaning you have to turn up your thermostat to achieve a comfortable indoor climate.
The most effective way to combat dry winter air in your home is by installing a whole-house humidifier, which uses the air heated by your furnace to deliver humidity throughout your entire home. A humidistat allows these humidifiers to be adjusted to the appropriate humidity setting and will automatically turn the humidifier on and off as needed.
There are two main types of whole-house humidifiers. Bypass humidifiers are powered by your furnace’s fan and are installed on the ductwork on the cold-air return. Bypass humidifiers are typically less expensive upfront but operate only when your furnace is operating. Steam humidifiers are the fastest and most efficient way to create and maintain a comfortable humidity level and they can operate even when your furnace is not running. However, they are costlier to install and use more electricity to operate.
Whole-home humidifiers can be installed in a new or existing heating system. It is important when choosing a humidifier to make sure you select one that can adequately provide moisture for your entire home. Don’t forget to have your humidifier serviced annually. Unlike a furnace, it is not always obvious when it is not working properly.