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How do I Choose the Best Humidifier?

Kay Paddock
Kay Paddock

Heating in the winter often dries out the air, which can dry your skin, hair, and nasal passages. By choosing the right humidifier, you can make your home feel warmer in the winter and you may even help yourself stay healthier. It is important to choose the right size to get the best one for your needs. There are two basic types available: steam or cool mist models. You can also opt for a console unit, a tabletop version, or one that adds moisture throughout the whole house.

Home humidifiers can be either steam or cool mist models. Steam humidifiers, also commonly called vaporizers, heat the water in their tanks and spray out a fine mist of steam. Cool mist versions do not contain a heating element — they spray a cool mist of water into the air.

Humidifiers may help make a home feel warmer in the winter.
Humidifiers may help make a home feel warmer in the winter.

Both types do a similar job of adding humidity to the environment, but cool mist versions usually cost less to purchase and run because they do not contain an extra heating element. They are also generally recommended for people with small children to avoid the risk of a burn. Cool mist models are often recommended for relief from such conditions as colds, allergies, and asthma.

Some people prefer steam humidifiers, which generally offer a bit more protection from things like bacteria and mildew in the tank because they boil the water inside them. Cool mist models cannot kill bacteria in the water or other elements that boiling neutralizes. As such, some people feel safer purchasing distilled water for a cool mist humidifier, which will add to the cost of using it.

There are a variety of models from which to choose. A console humidifier, for instance, typically sits on the floor to add moisture to the air in a whole room. Some look like a piece of furniture, while others look much like any other humidifier. If you want to raise the humidity level in an entire room or area, a console model may be best. Most humidifiers list the size of the area they can adequately cover, so read the package carefully.

To add humidity to one small area or to use for a specific cold or condition, a small, tabletop model might be a good choice. Tabletop models can be purchased that are large enough to humidify an entire room as well. Most console and tabletop models are easily portable when not filled with water, and many of both types have simple controls to let you adjust the humidity level. Some even have meters that shut them off automatically if the air becomes too damp.

Another option is a whole house humidifier. This type is ideal for adding moisture to all the air in a home rather than just one room or area. Commonly called a furnace humidifier, this device is installed inside the ductwork. Most will require professional installation because of their location and the fact that they need a water hook-up. The air forced through the ductwork is blown through the unit, adding moisture throughout the home.

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    • Humidifiers may help make a home feel warmer in the winter.
      By: StockPhotosArt
      Humidifiers may help make a home feel warmer in the winter.