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Why a Steam Humidifier is a Good Idea for Winter

cartoon woman standing next to humidifier

Cold weather in the winter brings with it more than just a sharp drop in temperature. When you crank up the heating to stay warm, you end up with overly dry air. Dry air can not only lead to health issues like dry skin, scratchy throats, and nosebleeds but also cause damage to your home and result in high utility bills. A humidifier can add moisture in the air and help to maintain humidity levels in your home. 

There are many different types of humidifiers on the market, such as warm and cool mist humidifiers. Please continue reading to learn why a humidifier is a good idea for your home when the relative humidity drops in the winter. We will also discuss the different types of evaporative humidifiers to help you pick the right humidifier for your home.

Why should I use a humidifier?

Humidifiers are devices that add moisture to the air in your home. They are particularly useful in the cold season when there is low humidity due to moisture loss from the heat in indoor air. 

If your HVAC system does not have an in-built humidifier, using a standalone humidifier in the cold winter months can help to prevent health problems related to drier air, such as bloody noses, scratchy throats, cracked lips, and dry skin. A humidifier can reduce breathing difficulties related to the common cold and other respiratory ailments. It also prevents snoring triggered by dry air

Using a humidifier can also make your home more energy efficient and keep your heating bills in check. It can reduce static electricity. And last but not least, it can protect your hardwood floors from developing gaps (wood floors tend to develop gaps when the humidity level is too low). 

What’s the difference between warm and cool mist humidifiers?

Here’s a brief overview of the different types of humidifiers available. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, which we will discuss in the following paragraphs.

Cool mist humidifiers 

These devices have a rotating disk and a container for water. The disk rotates at a high speed. The machines draw air and send a cool mist into the room, thus adding moisture to dry air.

Ultrasonic humidifiers 

These devices use ultrasonic vibrations (sound energy) to produce a cool mist and add moisture to dry air. 

Steam humidifiers 

Also called steam vaporizers, they contain a heating element to boil water and create steam. In other words, they add water vapors and more moisture in the air. These machines also increase the temperature of the air somewhat, making them particularly useful for the colder months.

Warm mist humidifiers 

Warm mist humidifiers also produce steam, but the main difference is that, unlike steam humidifiers, they cool the steam somewhat before releasing it into the room.

Whole home humidifiers 

A whole-house humidifier works with your existing air conditioning system and allows you to control humidity levels for your entire home. These machines typically cost around $500 but can be $1,000 or more for high-end models. In contrast, portable humidifiers are inexpensive, often costing $30 to $50, but unlike whole-home humidifiers, they must be placed in each room where you want to reduce dryness. 

Note: Installing dehumidifiers is recommended for crawl spaces to reduce humidity. 

Do steam humidifiers work well for dry air?

Yes, steam humidifiers work particularly well for dry air because they turn water into steam. The water vapors add moisture to the air and reduce dryness.

What type of humidifier is best for winter?

A steam humidifier is best for the winter season because, in addition to increasing humidity in your home, it also warms the air through heat in the water vapor. 

However, you need to keep a steam humidifier at least 4 feet away for safety reasons. This device may not be the best choice for families with young children and pets due to the risk of burns from the hot water in the humidifier spilling. If this is the case, warm mist humidifiers may be a better choice. 

Of course, cool mist humidifiers are the safest because they add moisture to the air without risk of burns. They can be used year-round, even in warmer weather. However, they don’t heat the air, which is desirable in the cold months. 

The main advantage of an ultrasonic humidifier is that it is more compact and quieter than other types of humidifiers. But again, this type of humidifier can increase relative humidity but will not heat the air in cold weather. 

Why is a steam humidifier better?

A steam humidifier is better because it emits water vapor into the air (pure steam from boiled water). In contrast, a cool mist humidifier can form mineral deposits and may release mold and other contaminants into the air. Over time, these contaminants can irritate the nasal passages and airways and lead to breathing issues

If you do not want to use a steam humidifier due to safety concerns, go ahead and use a cool mist humidifier, but use distilled or purified water in the device. Also, make sure you clean your cool mist humidifier thoroughly at regular intervals to lessen the negative effects related to potential contamination.