Timberline Blog

The Best Ways to Defeat Winter Dry Air in Your Home

March 24, 2017 by Timberline

Would You Like to Combat Dry Air in Your Home This Winter?

Colorado, and especially the Front Range near Boulder and Denver, is already a low humidity area. But in the winter, it can feel even drier than it really is. Ideally, your home’s humidity should range between 40-50%. As part of a high desert climate, Denver’s average relative humidity sits at the low end of the spectrum, ranging from about 30-42%, depending on the time of year and day. This lack of humidity in the air can affect your home and your health. So what causes all the dry air side effects, and what can you do to sustainably balance the humidity of your home?

Winter Dry Air in Your Home

Why Does Your House Seem So Dry in the Winter?

When air is heated, its molecules start to move faster, which can cause the air to expand. As the heated air expands, but the level of moisture in the air stays the same, the air can end up with less moisture per volume. If moisture is not added to expanded air, it feels drier. So, turning your heater on to raise the temperature in your home during the winter can actually make it feel drier inside. 

How Dry Air Can Affect Your Health

Inhaling dry air can aggravate respiratory ailments like sinusitis, bronchitis, nosebleeds and asthma. Dry air can also affect your skin, dry out sinuses causing a cottony or sore throat, and sometimes result in dehydration. Medical professionals even note that a decrease in mucus from exposure to dry air can make it more likely for you to get a cold, since there isn’t as much mucus in your nose and throat to catch particles you may inhale. In addition to these health issues, dry air can also cause other inconveniences such as itching, irritation and static.

Effects of Dry Air on Your Home and Wallet

An environment that is too dry can cause wood window frames, doors and wood flooring to shrink, allowing more cold air from outside to move into your home (or letting warm air escape). You’ll need to turn up the thermostat to combat this, which will impact your energy usage and your expenditures. Over time, expansion and contraction of wood inside your home can also cause cracks and other damage. Saving money and energy is important: Investing in a system or device to help stabilize the recommended humidity level in your home can help neutralize these effects and save you money.

Ways to Increase Humidity in Your Home to Combat Winter Dry Air

The easiest way to combat winter dry air is to install or start using a humidifier or humidifying system to force more moisture into the air. There are several types of humidifiers, with options ranging from whole house systems that automatically regulate humidity throughout your entire home, to portable units you can use in a single room.

Portable Humidifiers
Portable humidifiers can stand alone in a designated space, and work best for individual rooms. There are models available that sense and regulate the humidity level in a room, or models that require you to monitor humidity levels manually. If you decide to go with a portable humidifier that doesn’t automatically sense or regulate the humidity level, consider investing in a hygrometer to measure the moisture levels in your home. It’s also recommended that you clean portable humidifier units often to retard microbial growth. 

Whole Home Humidifiers
Whole home humidifiers can be installed into your central air or heating system. These humidifiers are designed to regulate the humidity level, so you don’t have to.

Bypass Humidifiers
A bypass humidifier is a type of whole home humidifier, but with a damper system. Bypass humidifiers can allow you to pre-set seasonal settings, so you don’t need to change the settings manually every season.

Steam Humidifiers
Steam humidifiers function independently from a heating and cooling system, and may use less water than other types of humidifiers.

A word of caution about over-humidifying: forcing too much moisture into the air can encourage mold and mildew growth or other complications, so when you’re searching for the right humidifier for your home, try looking for a regulated humidifier. A good way to tell if there’s too much moisture in your home (if you don’t have a hygrometer) is to look for visible moisture droplets on the inside of your windows. If you see water droplets forming on the glass, there is too much humidity inside. You can easily fix this by increasing ventilation until the issue corrects. 

Dry air can have an impact on your well-being and home health. Consider combating the effects of dry air with a humidifier or humidifying system, especially in the winter. Contact your HVAC professionals to learn more about the best solutions for you and your home.

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