Improving your home’s humidity — the amount of water vapor in the air — is important, especially during the winter.
Most people run their furnace a lot during cold weather. That keeps them warm, but all that heat dries out the air, which can lead to big problems.
Here’s what you should know about water vapor levels, how to measure them and how they affect your health.
Ideal Indoor Humidity
The ideal indoor humidity is about 30–50%. Of course, that information isn’t helpful if you can’t measure the moisture to begin with!
For that, you’ll need a hygrometer, which measures the temperature and relative water vapor. You can purchase one at your local home center.
Problems with Low Humidity
Having low indoor humidity can cause big problems for your health and your home.
For instance, dry air causes your body to feel colder; asthma and allergy symptoms can worsen; cold and flu viruses may spread rapidly; and it can cause dry skin or chapped lips.
Low water vapor also takes a toll on homes. That’s because wood furniture is robbed of moisture, and cracks can develop on flooring, trim and framing around windows and doors.
How to Increase Your Home’s Humidity
To increase your home’s humidity, consider installing a whole-house humidity system in the ductwork near your furnace. These range from $150 to $1,000 — it just depends on the square footage you need to cover.
If a whole-house system is beyond your budget, you can always install a room-size humidifier. This small unit costs just $30 and it’s portable, so you can take it from room to room.
Other remedies include boiling water; air-drying clothes and dishes; using bathroom exhaust fans sparingly; purchasing houseplants — they release moisture from their leaves and stems.