about this time of the year, you halfheartedly crank up
the heat in your home.
welcome the warmth but cringe at the prospect of feeling
your body reaching the dehydration level of a potato
humidifier can turn that scenario around by infusing
moisture back into the air and bringing relief to
chapped lips, flaky skin and even flulike symptoms.
wonder of humidifiers is that thereís something out
there for everyone," says Lynne Hammell, at Kaz,
maker of Honeywell humidifiers. She and Stephanie
LaGrotta Martinez, associate merchant at The Home Depot,
dished out advice on making humidifier shopping a
square-foot coverage. The rule of thumb is that the size
of your appliance should match the size of the room. A
voluminous humidifier in your childís room, for
instance, might cause more harm than good. "When it
comes to humidity, the sweet spot is between 40 and 60
percent," Hammell explains. "If itís higher,
youíll notice it: condensation on the windows, the
wallpaper peeling a bit for those who have it."
factor. While portable humidifiers with water filters
solve the problem of over-humidification, most people
donít want to deal with the hassle of replacing that
filter. Enter the ultrasonic models, which expel fine
water mist using high-frequency sound vibrations. No
extra steps required.
a gallon-tank capacity, Martinez says, these units are
ideal for a single room, such as a bedroom. For good
ultrasonic options, Martinez points clients to brands
like Air Innovations, Hunter, Crane and Vornado.
big or go home. A well-humidified house might feel like
a combo between a breath of fresh air and a hug. As
Martinez puts it, "it makes for a comfortable home
you decide to extend that sense of coziness throughout
your entire home, invest in a whole-house appliance. The
$138.99 Aircare Digital Whole-House Pedestal-Style
Evaporative Humidifier has a coverage up to 2,400 square
feet and a convenient side pour-in door.
whole-house appliances mount directly to your furnace,
working with the heating system to replenish moisture.
Behind their whopping price tag ó up to $700 for some
brands ó there are several boons. For one, they can
prevent the wood floor you paid a fortune for from
drying and cracking. Plus, the nice warming effect
allows you to lower the temperature on the thermostat,
which will result in energy savings.
mist versus warm mist. Both warm-mist and cool-mist
humidifiers will get the job done, says Hammell. The
first type boils the water to emit a cooled steam, while
the second one uses a fan to blow moisture. "Itís
just a matter of personal preferences."
it comes to kids, though, most experts favor the cool
mist. The Mayo Clinic warns that warm-mist devices pose
the threat of steam burns for little ones.
the flip side, cool-mist humidifiers can disperse white
dust calcium deposits from hard water. The United States
Department of Labor says "the main hazard of
exposure to mineral dust is pneumoconiosis, a general
term for disease of the lungs caused by dusts," but
there are simple ways to counteract this issue.
Regularly clean the tank and use distilled or purified
water, which is lower in mineral content than tap water.
features. Want to up your germ-fighting game? Opt for a
humidifier with anti-microbial features like the
Honeywell Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier that Hammell
owns. Earlier this year, Consumer Reports ranked this
model second out of 34 tested for their efficiency at
inhibiting bacterial growth in the tank and for not
emitting bacteria into the air.
fan speeds or a humidistat are other features worth
purchasing, Martinez adds. Also pretty handy: the
automatic shut-off feature. "This will help prolong
the life of the motor." Keeping the humidity in
check might help shield you from the germs in your house
or office. "It actually helps reduce the survival
of the flu virus on surfaces and in the air," says
Ciulac is a freelance writer.