When you think about humidity, your first thought is probably summertime. It gets muggy and sticky and uncomfortable! What's often overlooked though are the benefits of humidity.
In the winter when it gets cold and feels dry there is a lack of humidity in the air. Lack of humidity can lead to a few different health issues, as well as making your home feel colder and less comfortable than it could be. Here are a few of the issues that arise when there isn't enough humidity in the air.
Dry Skin and Eyes
Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air. When the humidity drops, it means the air is drier, and can cause very dry skin. Dry skin is an uncomfortable feeling, and in bad cases can lead to skin cracking, especially on more exposed parts of your body like hands and lips. There are lotions, moisturizers, lip balms, and other remedies that can help soothe the symptoms. Adding moisture to the air inside your home can prevent this from becoming a problem. The added moisture will keep the air from sucking the moisture from your skin, and will prevent a lot of this cracking, chapping, and itching from ever happening.
Your eyes can also feel the effects of drier air. They may get itchy, or simply feel dried out. Drops can temporarily help, but adding humidity to the air can prevent the problem altogether.
Sinuses, Colds, and Flu
Dry air is rough on the nose! Very dry air can cause your nasal passages to dry out. In addition to feeling irritated and causing nosebleeds, if your mucous membranes are dry, your line of defense against germs isn't as strong. Ever heard of cilia? Your cilia are the tiny hairs inside your nose that protect your nasal and respiratory passages. As you breathe, your cilia move back and forth to prevent bacteria, germs, dust and other foreign particules from entering your nasal passages and possibly triggering an illness. When your nasal passages are dry, cilia can't do their job effectively. Properly humidified air helps your nasal airways remain moist and helps these tiny hairs continue to ward off bacteria and germs.
Flu germs and other airborne viruses spread more easily in dry air conditions. Dry air allows viruses to stay airborne longer, and increases the chance of virus spread. These viruses are less likely to remain airborne in a properly humidified environment, which decreases the chance of airborne spread.
Researchers agree that a home humidity level of 40-60% is an ideal level that will allow your home to be healthy and comfortable.
How to maintain proper humidity
You can get a humidity monitor for your home. An inexpensive hygrometer can help you keep track of the humidity levels in your home.
Another great tool is a thermostat that measures humidity. Some even have a humidity adjustment ability that can help you set the humidity and forget about it. Some systems have this ability and some don't. It not only will keep you comfortable, but also lower your heating bill, because air with moisture in it is much easier to heat than dry air.
To add humidity to your home, you can buy a humidifier. Some are portable and can be put in different rooms throughout your home, while others are whole home humidifiers that plug straight into your HVAC system and keep your whole home properly humidified.
As you can see, humidity is not the enemy when it comes to home health and comfort. Maintaining proper humidity levels in your home will help to make your home a healthy, comfortable place.