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Cold & Flu Season: Why Your Home’s Humidity Matters in Winter

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Even in humid Virginia, indoor air naturally gets drier during the colder months. You might even notice that your hands and lips look cracked and parched, like you’ve been stranded in the desert! While you slather on some more hand lotion and lip balm, there’s another thing you can do to remedy the situation — learn how to improve your home’s humidity in winter.

You’ll need to take a number of things into consideration. How big is your home (or office)? How many people live or work in the building? What is your budget? How old is the existing HVAC or humidification system? As you can see, a variety of factors may impact your options. While you can definitely do research on your own, it’s best to speak with a professional.

Why Low Humidity Is a Problem

The days are shorter, the weather is cooler, and people are sniffling. On top of that, one of your appliances is on the fritz and you’ve noticed some cracks in your beautiful wood floors. Could this all be related? Yes! Did you know that low humidity inside your home can cause the following:

  • Dry, itchy skin and hair.
  • Increased susceptibility to colds and flus.
  • Cracks and damage to wood floors and furniture.
  • Damaged electronics.
  • Chipped paint.

So what’s the right level of humidity? The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends nothing higher than 65% while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests maintaining humidity levels between 30-60% to protect your home and your health.

Affordable Ways to Increase Your Home’s Humidity in Winter

air drying clothes

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Making small changes can have a big impact on your home’s humidity levels. Here are some of the easiest things you can do to add a little warm, moist air to your home:

  • Use portable room humidifiers — These are relatively inexpensive and can move with you as you go through your day. Place one in the living room while you’re watching TV in the evening and then bring it into your bedroom at night.
  • Add houseplants — Believe it or not, adding a few houseplants to room can improve air quality and add moisture. The only problem is that some people struggle to keep them alive. The benefits may be worth the reward, though!
  • Pour a bowl of water — This may not be practical if you have small kids, but you can get a little creative with your decorating by putting bowls or vases of water around the house. The water will evaporate and add moisture to the air.
  • Make some pasta — Okay, it doesn’t actually have to be pasta, but if you cook on your stove top (especially if it involves boiling water), this can really give your home’s humidity levels a boost. In the winter months, there are all types of stews, soups, and sauces you can make to stay warm and stay comfortable.
  • Let your clothes air dry — The next time you do a load of laundry, skip the dryer and let them air dry instead. Not only will you add moisture to the air inside your home, but you’ll save money on your utility bill!

Cold winter air contains less water, and running your furnace tends to strip whatever moisture is left in your home, so the humidity levels will naturally be lower during the winter months. By employing these small tricks, you can really help elevate the humidity in your home to make everyone more comfortable.

Whole Home Humidifiers

Virginia sees all four seasons, and your home’s humidity levels will change with the weather. The best way to maintain ideal moisture levels all year round is to install a whole home humidifier. Combining this feature with your existing cooling and heating system will take care of your entire house.

By bringing water vapor into the duct system, you’ll add moisture to the air that’s already being distributed throughout your home. As part of your HVAC unit, you’ll be able to monitor and control humidity levels right from your thermostat without needing to boil pots of water or move a portable humidifier from room to room.

Benefits of Maintaining Ideal Humidity Levels

There will be a bit of work, and maybe a financial investment, involved with finding the right humidity levels inside your home, but it will pay off in the long run. Here are just some of the benefits you can expect from keeping moisture within a desirable range:

happy family

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  • Prevent dry skin, hair, and mouth.
  • Ease allergy and asthma symptoms.
  • Recover from colds, flus, and respiratory illnesses faster.
  • Increase personal comfort.
  • Reduce static electricity.
  • Protect wood and electronics.
  • Save money on your utility bill.

It’s hard to argue with that list of reasons in favor of maintaining ideal humidity levels within your home. Plus, the added moisture will make your house feel warmer, allowing you to turn down the heat and save on energy!

HVAC and Humidity Experts in Richmond, Virginia

Ready to learn more about how you can banish dry air from your home this winter? The NATE-certified technicians at W.G. Speeks have been providing support and guidance to homeowners in the Greater Richmond Region for more than 75 years.

We offer a free consultation — no strings attached! Give us a call today for a personalized assessment. We’ll go over all of the best options for your specific needs, whether it’s making small changes to your home or adding a whole home humidifier. No matter what you need, we’re here to help!

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