Winter is right around the corner in much of the world, bringing frustratingly dry and staticky air along with it. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: Setting up a humidifier.
Whether you opt for single-room appliances or a whole-home system, humidifiers increase moisture levels in the air, making the room feel warmer and your skin feel more hydrated.
To further break down the benefits of humidifiers — and explain how to get the most out of yours — we turned to YORK® Product Manager, Catherine McMurray, and Dan DiClerico, Director of the Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
Here’s what they had to say about finding the perfect option for your space.
There is an ideal humidity for health and comfort
The temperature and comfort level of your home are directly affected by the amount of humidity in the air — and, although the perfect level ultimately comes down to personal preference, it typically falls between 30% and 50%, advises McMurray. For reference, she adds, “the average humidity in the Sahara Desert is 25%, while the average in the Amazon rainforest is 85%.”
Finding the right balance isn’t just about making your home more comfortable. There are health issues to consider, too. “When the humidity level in your home is too high, it can lead to mold growth and other allergens,” DiClerico says. “Conversely, when the air is too dry, it can cause itchy eyes, sore throats, and cracked skin.”
Insufficient humidity can also make you feel colder, tempting you to turn the thermostat higher than necessary — and leading to a higher heating bill.
Not all humidifiers are created equal
If the word “humidifier” brings to mind small portable units, you may be missing out the benefits of more powerful options like those from YORK®, which can help maintain a comfortable humidity level throughout your entire home.
“The YORK® whole-house humidifiers tie into the home’s existing forced-air system and add moisture to the air as needed,” DiClerico says. “These systems are great because they condition the entire home, not just one room or area.”
If you’re not sure if your home is compatible with this type of unit, know that YORK® offers a few different options that work in both older and newer homes. “The Whole House Bypass Humidifier relies on the furnace blower motor to send humidity out to the home, and requires a bypass duct be installed,” McMurray explains. “This style of humidifier requires that the furnace is running in order to operate.”
The Whole House Fan Powered Humidifier also needs the furnace to run to push the humidity out to the home, but it has higher humidification capacity due to increased airflow from the built-in fan, and works with your home’s existing HVAC system ducting.
If your home doesn’t have a furnace, McMurray suggests a Large Capacity Whole House Steam Humidifier. “These can be installed to either discharge directly into a room or to rely on an air handler blower to push the humidified air through the home,” she says. Since it has its own heating element, this model doesn’t need to rely on heat from a furnace or hot water connection.
Bonus: All three of these powerful systems come with a 5-year parts limited warranty to ensure years of durability — and they’re backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal.
It’s not just about humidity; air quality matters, too
Beyond installing an effective humidifier, you might want to invest in an Energy Recovery Ventilator. Often referred to as ERVs, these fresh-air exchange systems manage the transfer of heat and moisture between incoming and outgoing airstreams. That helps maintain optimal humidity levels throughout the year, while also improving indoor air quality.
“Modern homes have tighter seals, which is great for efficiency but can cause the air to become stale and increase indoor air pollution,” McMurray explains. “[Having] an ERV is like opening a window, except you don’t have to wait for the perfect fall day to do so.”
This system removes stale, contaminated indoor air and replaces it with fresh, conditioned, and filtered outdoor air for maximum comfort and improved health.
Bottom line: Updating your home with a whole-house humidifier and fresh-air system will maximum comfort, health and efficiency not just during the winter months, but throughout the year.