If it feels uncomfortable in your home, then the thermostat often receives the blame for those living conditions. There is another factor to consider: the humidity levels.
When the winter months come around in most of the world, humidity levels drop compared to what they were for the rest of the year. Low humidity makes your home feel colder. It dries out your skin. That makes it easier for everyone to get sick when a cold comes around. Low humidity can even damage the structure of your house.
Many of the comfort issues associated with indoor living and winter are preventable with the use of a whole house humidifier. Instead of running portable humidifiers in each room (and sucking up all that power), the entire home receives a boost of moisture through its HVAC system.
These are the pros and cons of a whole house humidifier if you’re thinking about having one installed.
List of the Pros of a Whole House Humidifier
1. They are an affordable option for the home.
There are two ways that a whole house humidifier becomes an affordable investment for the home. The first issue involves the capital cost of the unit, which is typically $700 or less. There is an assumption that this technology costs much more than it does because labor is usually figured into the price. Anyone with DIY skills and a few tools can install this technology at home over the course of a weekend.
They also don’t cost a lot to operate. Most don’t even require electricity to provide the home with humidity support. Even if they do, you’ll be spending a few dollars each year to power the unit, which is much less than you’d pay when using portable humidifiers as an alternative.
2. Whole house humidifiers are durable.
A whole house humidifier, when installed correctly, will operate for about 10 years before a replacement becomes necessary. If you’re using portable humidifiers to improve indoor temperatures, then you might find yourself replacing each one every year. Although portable units cost less, they break down more often, which increases the user cost over a decade.
3. You benefit from its automatic functions.
If you purchase a basic whole house humidifier, then you won’t get to take advantage of this benefit. The smart humidifiers in this category will adjust the moisture levels in the air based on what they read from sensors in your home. That process allows you to enjoy a comfortable indoor environment without worrying about what the settings are for the unit. Most models require little maintenance over their lifetime to stay functional, with some only needing a refill of water once per year – assuming you don’t connect it directly to the water supply in the first place.
4. Whole house humidifiers will lower your energy bills.
The Environmental Protection Agency believes that the average homeowners will save up to 45 on their heating bills over the winter for every degree lower that your thermostat is set. When you use a whole house humidifier with your HVAC system, the added moisture in the air makes the indoor environment feel warmer. That means you can turn your thermostat down five degrees without feeling uncomfortable in most homes.
That 20% per month savings during the coldest months of the year could help your new whole house humidifier pay for itself in just 2-4 seasons. You won’t get the same results with portable humidifiers.
5. This technology covers the entire home.
You’ll want to look at the square footage rating of the whole house humidifier you prefer before making a purchase. Some models provide coverage for about 1,500 square feet or less. You’ll find some models can cover up to 6,200 square feet of interior space with better air moisture levels in the home. Instead of having one room which feels comfortable all the time, you can offer the whole house this benefit based on your home size.
Before installing your whole house humidifier, make sure that your current HVAC system is compatible with the unit. This issue is rare, but it could make things problematic for some homeowners if their heating system is explicitly not designed to work with a humidifier.
6. They work to prevent damage in your home.
When you have a whole house humidifier installed correctly in your home, then you can expect humidity levels to fall somewhere between 30% to 50% while the unit is functional. This range is considered safe to prevent home maintenance issues associated with low moisture levels in the air.
A whole house humidifier prevents wallpaper from peeling, cracking, or separating from the wall. It reduces static electricity buildups in the home which could be dangerous to sensitive electronics. This technology prevents your wooden furniture, structures, or items from cracking or splitting too.
7. Whole house humidifiers reduce health risks in the home.
Low humidity levels can cause damage to the people living in the home as it damages structures in the house. The added moisture in the air reduces problems with dry, itchy skin. Sore throats happen less often when humidity levels are within the safe range. There are fewer allergy and sinus irritations present in homes with consistent humidity during the winter months. You’ll experience less vulnerability to viruses when using a whole house humidifier as well.
8. This technology requires little maintenance to maintain its performance.
Most of the whole house humidifiers available today allow you to install it, set it, and then forget about it. Even with a manual system, you can configure your humidity level at a specific percentage and receive results which are consistent. The technology draws water from a reservoir or your plumbing lines when needed, so it won’t run dry like portable units typically do during the winter. That means the cleaning work required at the start of the season is the only real maintenance task necessary, and some models don’t even need that.
9. Whole house humidifiers are extremely quiet.
Most humidifiers, including portable ones, don’t make an exceptional amount of noise. A whole house humidifier makes virtually no noise because it is hidden away with the rest of your central HVAC structure. You’ll hear the heating system working as usual without additional sounds or trip hazards that portable units sometimes create in small rooms.
10. It adds to the resale value of your home.
A whole house humidifier is a valued commodity in a tight home selling market. You’ll bring back the cost of this investment with a small boost in property value because the house offers more features that make it stand out from the competition in the community. Some homeowners specifically market their humidifying systems as a vital selling point because of how important indoor air quality is for every household.
List of the Cons of a Whole House Humidifier
1. Maintenance issues are sometimes masked by this technology.
Homes which experience ongoing issues with low humidity levels might have a more significant maintenance concern to worry about. Excessive air leakage from a home causes low air moisture levels, which a whole house humidifier will not solve. Air can come into your home from many locations, including the attic, fireplace, windows, and doors. Even ceiling joists and recessed lights may create air leaks.
Until you fix those leaks, you’re wasting money on utility costs while creating a higher risk for health problems during the winter months. That’s because you’re allowing the warm air to escape to the outside. Before purchasing a whole house humidifier, have your home professionally inspected to ensure there are no air sealing issues which require repair.
2. Whole house humidifiers can sometimes cause mold growth.
High levels of humidity and moisture create an additional risk for mold and mildew growth in homes. This issue is especially prevalent in high-moisture geographic areas like the Pacific Northwest in the United States. Entry-level models which require you to set the humidity levels in the home create higher moisture levels within your ductwork, vents, and overall HVAC system. That means you could have mold spores being blown into the air you breathe.
If you own an older whole house humidifier or have one which requires manual settings, then you should have your HVAC system cleaned professionally once per year before the snow flies. That will stop this technology from creating more health issues instead of fewer when you install a humidifier like this.
3. You are going to pay a lot for the best models on the market today.
Entry-level whole house humidifiers typically cost at least $400 if you own a small home. Most homeowners can find a manual unit for less than $700. If you wish to avoid the disadvantages of owning this technology by upgrading to an automatic unit, you’re going to be paying a lot more for your unit. Expect to pay upwards of $1,000 for some models, with larger homes paying upward of $3,000 to experience the benefits wanted.
Although you’ll still receive the cost-savings benefits associated with this technology, the initial capital expense may be too much for some families.
4. Homes with hard water could experience difficulties.
The whole house humidifier heats water to create vapor which is then distributed throughout the rest of the home. If you are drawing water directly from the plumbing, the minerals found in the fluid form a white powder which coats the system as the water vaporizes. This scale buildup can eventually stop the system from working if it isn’t cleaned frequently. Check for mineral deposits at least once per month if you have hard water.
If your whole house humidifier runs from a basin or reserve instead of a direct feed, then you can avoid this disadvantage by feeding the unit distilled water.
5. You have zero portability with a whole house humidifier.
There are days when you may not require the whole house to have higher moisture levels. You may prefer to have one room of comfort because that’s where you spend most of your time. When using a whole house humidifier, you don’t have the same benefit of portability that you do with the other type of unit. Because this technology requires a modification to an HVAC system, renters can’t install one at all without owner permission. If you need a small area humidified and nothing more, this option is not the best choice to meet your needs.
These whole house humidifier pros and cons help homeowners find solutions to the dry air which might be causing havoc in their home right now. Consider each point carefully if you’re looking at this technology to see if it could be the solution needed for your home today.