Health Benefits of Using Humidifiers in the Winter
Should you use a humidifier in the winter? Humidifiers can help maintain your health and comfort during the drier winter months. Understanding their many benefits can help your family decide if investing in a humidifier is right for you.
6 Types of Humidifiers
Humidifiers are home devices that put moisture into the air. They are handy in the winter when heating systems pull more water out of your home’s already dry air. These devices come in several types and with different settings, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your family’s needs.
1. Cool Mist Humidifier
Just as their name suggests, cool mist humidifiers describe precisely what they do — these devices send cool mist into the air to increase moisture levels. They are effective humidifiers and include impurity filters to prevent mold and bacteria from getting into the air supply.
When looking for a humidifier to improve your health, this type offers several health benefits for the winter. While the colder water droplets might cause the temperature to drop a couple of degrees in a room, this factor also makes them safe to use around pets and younger children.
2. Warm Mist Humidifier
Whereas cool mist humidifiers emit cooler humid air, warm mist humidifiers boil the water inside before expelling it as steam. The boiling process helps rid the water of bacterial contaminants for increased purity and health benefits.
This humidifier type is quiet enough that you can forget it’s there, making it ideal for office spaces or bedrooms. Additionally, the steam helps warm up rooms for cozier spaces this winter. However, people with young kids or curious pets should be careful when purchasing a warm mist humidifier. If someone knocks it over, they’ll be at risk of burns from the boiling water.
3. Evaporative Humidifier
An evaporative humidifier uses a fan to run water through a moist wick filter. Moisture enters the air through evaporation, completely unnoticed by the naked eye.
These models are incredibly intuitive because they partially adjust to current humidity levels, producing less evaporation as the room’s humidity level rises. Since they don’t use hot water, they are safe to keep around kids and pets. You can also keep them anywhere without damaging furniture or floors.
4. Vaporizer Humidifier
A vaporizer model might be right for you if you want the benefits of both cool and warm mist humidifiers. This option lets you choose between steam and mist emissions for optimal comfort and functionality. Like warm mist humidifiers, they are very quiet. However, you must be careful when using steam settings to protect children and pets from accidental burns.
5. Ultrasonic Humidifier
Ultrasonic humidifiers are energy-efficient and quiet. They have a metallic vibrating diaphragm that creates water droplets before emitting them into the surrounding environment. Like vaporizer humidifiers, they have warm and cool mist settings.
6. Central Humidifier
Most of the models described above are best for individual rooms, including bedrooms, offices, playrooms and other closed living spaces. A central humidifier offers more efficient and comprehensive care when you want to increase humidity levels across your home and open spaces.
These humidifiers will also protect your home’s quality, helping protect wood flooring and furniture from the effects of dry air. Wood expands and contracts with changing weather conditions and reacts differently under various air qualities. Dry air can cause wood to crack, leaving permanent damage that may require expensive repairs. This type of humidifier attaches to your home’s HVAC system to provide more moisture throughout every room, including your kitchen, living room and dining room.
Heating systems can cause doors to shift in size, leading to warping and no longer fitting their frames, making it hard for doors to stay shut. As your heater draws moisture from the air, a centralized humidifier can restore it to maintain ideal humidity standards.
8 Benefits of Humidifiers
No matter which type of humidifier you choose, you can benefit from this home device’s health advantages in the winter, letting you enjoy everything the colder season offers. If you want to avoid dry skin, sleep better and reduce the risk of getting sick this winter, consider the benefits of using a humidifier in your home.
1. Soothe Itchiness and Irritation
Your body draws moisture from the air to stay hydrated and healthy, but the air lacks that moisture in the winter, which can leave your skin dry and irritated. Luckily, you can take advantage of the skin benefits of humidifiers. As the humidifier returns moisture to the air, it becomes easier for you to stay hydrated and relieve the discomfort of dry, itchy skin.
Using a humidifier can also help soothe other unpleasant symptoms of dry winter air, such as:
- Sore throats
- Irritated and stuffy sinuses
- Cracked lips
- Bloody noses
- Itchy skin
- Dry, irritated eyes
You can also fight the effects of dry air with treatment options like eye drops, saline sprays and powerful moisturizers. However, increasing the humidity in your home will help you rely on those treatments less.
2. Improve Immune Response
Humidifiers and air moisture also play a crucial role in building robust immune systems. Your body has natural defenses against dust, debris, bacteria and other airborne pathogens. Your nose, throat and lungs use mucus and cilia cells to catch germs before they can attack, protecting your body. However, these defenses need moisture to work.
As you breathe out, you release moisture as well as air — when you see your breath on a cold day, you’re seeing that moisture condense. When the air is dry, inhaling doesn’t replenish the moisture you lose as you exhale. This slow dehydration can cause your sinuses to dry out, reducing the mucus available to catch irritants and infections. Humidifiers can ensure your body has the water it needs to catch germs before they get in, protecting you from common viruses and colds.
3. Reduce the Spread of Viruses
Virus particles can spread easier when the air is dry. Viruses can live longer in dryer air, increasing people’s risk of encountering diseases like the flu and COVID-19. Higher humidity levels cause aerosol droplets to expand and drop to the floor sooner, letting people move throughout spaces with less chance of inhaling viruses. Adding a humidifier can help reduce the spread of airborne viruses, making it safer to have guests or work at the office this winter.
4. Decrease Allergy and Asthma Symptoms
Some people suffer more in the winter because of preexisting conditions. Since dry air increases irritation and makes it easier for particles to travel in the air, people with allergies and asthma can experience worsened symptoms. Higher humidity levels can help loosen and moisten tissue in the throat and nose for increased comfort and clearer airways.
While increased moisture is excellent for the respiratory system, it’s essential to avoid bacterial and mold growth that can worsen asthma and allergy symptoms. Regular care and maintenance are vital to ensure pure air quality.
Change the water each time you use it, and inspect filters for damage or dirt. Cool and warm mist models gather dust over time, so cleaning them inside and out is essential. These maintenance strategies can reduce allergies and asthma symptoms when using a humidifier this winter.
It’s also essential to monitor your home’s humidity levels to maintain ideal conditions for your overall health and safety. The Environmental Protection Agency states that keeping humidity between 30% and 50% will reduce the risk of mold developing in your home.
5. Boost Sleep
Sleep is closely associated with both mental and physical health, helping prevent illnesses and manage stress. When you want to increase comfort and rest at night, you might need a humidifier.
By adding moisture to the air, humidifiers can help individuals with snoring problems. Snoring can lower the sleep quality for both the snorer and anyone trying to sleep in the same room. Because winter air dries out the respiratory system and increases congestion, it can often make snoring worse.
Humidifiers provide moisture that can help to open airways, breaking up congestion and making it easier to breathe at night. Without the extra noise, more people can sleep peacefully throughout the night and feel more well-rested in the morning.
Some types and models of humidifiers are louder than others. While some may find that quieter options are better for sleep, louder humidifiers can act as white noise machines, helping people fall asleep faster. Additionally, they can effectively block out disruptive sounds, like kids playing, construction and people moving around the house so that you can stay asleep for longer.
6. Protect Kids
Many of the advantages above also qualify as benefits of humidifiers for kids. Humidifiers create comfortable environments for kids to thrive in the winter and help them fight congestion and allergies. The added moisture helps dislodge congestion and prevent the spread of viruses, keeping their developing immune systems safe throughout the year.
Children, especially young ones, often struggle to blow their noses or clear away mucus in their throats or lungs. In winter, this can become even more challenging. The increased dryness in the air causes mucus to stick to the walls of the respiratory system, preventing the body from getting rid of it. Humidifiers return moisture to the air, making it easier to dislodge mucus by coughing and blowing their nose.
Cool mist options are safe to use around children without the risk of hot water spilling if they knock them over. Many noncentralized models are easy to operate and only require a button to start, allowing kids to turn them on and off as needed.
7. Help Pets
Humidifier benefits for pets are similar to those for people. Like humans, animals can also suffer from allergies, asthma and irritation. When dry air worsens these conditions, a humidifier can help you keep your furry friends comfortable and healthy. Humidifiers can help treat the following in pets:
- Stuffy noses
- Itchy skin
Since animals can’t verbalize their needs the way people can, it’s essential to be proactive about using the proper habits and devices.
8. Keep Plants Healthier
If you have a green thumb and love your houseplants, you may want a humidifier to simplify plant care during the winter. Many plants struggle with the cold and dry air makes it hard for them to get enough water. Humidifiers help them get the nutrients they need to survive the winter, so you can continue enjoying green spaces in your home.
Other Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter
Maintaining your health requires several steps and strategies. While humidifiers are a great way to boost health this winter, they should be one step in a comprehensive plan. When the winter brings unique health challenges, you can stay healthy with the right strategies, including:
- Washing your hands thoroughly: Germs and viruses like the flu can spread through physical contact, entering the body when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth. You can better protect yourself against illness this winter by frequently and thoroughly washing your hands. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends scrubbing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds for ideal results.
- Staying hydrated: Many of the benefits that humidifiers offer your immune system and body are rooted in ensuring proper hydration levels. You can boost your immune response and health this winter by staying hydrated throughout the day. Maintaining hydration levels helps protect sensitive issues, like those in the throat and nose. Experts recommend 11.5 cups of water a day for women and 15.5 for men. You can get water from several sources, including other drinks and foods with high water concentrations.
- Winterizing your home: You can protect yourself from the cold, dry air by preparing your home. Investing in a humidifier is a great way to start winterizing your home. You can also install storm windows to keep the cold out and your heat in and insulate your water pipes to protect them from freezing and bursting. Cleaning out your gutters will help achieve optimal drainage in areas with lots of rain and snow. These strategies can keep your home habitable during the winter and support your health.
Prepare Your Home for Winter With Heating Services From Metro Services HVAC
Families will begin to switch on heating systems as the weather gets colder. A quality heater and HVAC system are essential to staying healthy and comfortable this winter. Metro Services HVAC offers comprehensive heating services to help prepare your home for the colder months. Whether you need to install a new heater or service your current one, Metro Services HVAC can support your needs.
Contact us today to request a quote and discover how a quality heating system can keep your family healthy this winter.