One of the side effects of cold winter air is dry indoor air in your home. It causes discomfort such as dry skin and chapped lips. There are many ways to increase the humidity in your home, some high tech and some low tech. Obviously, the high-tech methods are the more expensive.
How does dry air affect you?
Speaking from my and my family member's personal experience, I notice the low humidity levels when my hands start getting very dry and lips get dry and chapped. The dry air also affects my throat, making it feel scratchy and cough. And if you happen to sleep with your mouth open, you get what I've heard called 'cotton mouth'.
I've also experienced more frequent headaches and the dry air can also cause nose bleeds.
I have an old house. It's about 100 years old and has the most beautiful wooden floors and woodwork everywhere. For example, I have 4 built-ins like this one.
That wood sucks up moisture like crazy. When the air in my home gets too dry, I can hear it cracking. I worry about the wood being damaged so I do my best to regulate the humidity in the air. But, in the winter when we have a cold snap, it becomes challenging.
Easiest ways to increase humidity in your house.
1. Turn on your whole house humidifier.
This is intended to bring the humidity level of the whole house up. This humidifier is attached to your furnace and humidifies the air of a forced-air furnace. If it's not working, make sure you have the water to the humidifier turned on.
Also, there are filters that need to be changed regularly. If they aren't, they don't absorb the water that runs over the filter.
I've not recently installed one but was told it's about $600 (unconfirmed amount). You would call the company that maintains your HVAC system for this.
Here is what mine looks like.
2. Purchase a larger portable humidifier.
If you don't have a whole-house humidifier, you can purchase portable humidifiers. I use this larger portable humidifier. I love it because it holds 1 ½ gallons of water and the tank can easily be lifted off and taken to the tap. Make sure you change the filter regularly They get hard because of all the minerals in the water and stop wicking the water as well.
3. Small room vaporizers for when you are sick
room humidifiers that you use for yourself or your kids when you have a cold? They do a pretty good job of adding humidity into the air, especially in small rooms like bedrooms. When you are suffering from a house with dry winter air, they certainly help. Filters also need to be changed in these.
Other ways to humidify your dry inside air. No humidifier is needed!
4. Make soup!
Or any other food that uses a lot of water. The steam from the cooking pot adds moisture to the air. Thinking of making soup? I've been making this easy, healthy and delicious cabbage soup lately!
5. Simmer water on the stove.
But make sure to keep a close eye on the water level and top it off. I prefer to cook foods (like the soup I mentioned) so that I'm not wasting energy. Make hardboiled eggs or boil potatoes. If not cooking, I usually get the water to a slow boil on the stovetop then turn it off.
6. Want to keep water hot and evaporating moisture longer?
Fill your crockpot with boiling water, turn it on hot and leave the lid off. I find it helps to occasionally put the lid back on to let the water heat. I have a dedicated small crockpot that I use to simmer delicious-smelling food ingredients (think, sliced lemon etc.). Here are the links for my favorite natural air fresheners. The first, I use as a fall/winter air freshener and the second, I use as an all-year all-year air freshener.
The above works especially well when you have a crockpot with a timer.
Creative ways to add moisture to your home's dry air.
7. Turn Mthe thermostat down a few degrees.
If you have a forced-air furnace, a slightly lower temperature (a couple of degrees) can really help with the humidity level. Trying to track the humidity level in your house? You can buy a hygrometer. They are inexpensive (less than $10), portable, and normally show the room temperature and humidity level.
8. Air dry your washed clothing.
I like air-drying many of my clothes anyway. Air drying your laundry saves energy too! You will be surprised at how fast your damp clothing dries in your home's dry air. For some laundered items like towels, you let them air dry until they are just damp and then use the dryer to soften them.
9. Wash and air dry your washable curtains.
I have simple cotton curtains. My kitty likes to cuddle at the bottom of them so I do wash them regularly. Wash and hang them so they air dry. Make sure they are curtains that are washable!
10. Spray water with a spray bottle.
I have done this but very lightly over area rugs. Make sure you don't soak them because you could damage your floors (especially if they are wood).
11. Start growing houseplants!
The water from the soil evaporates and moisturizes the air. Careful, not to overwater the plants though! Also, plants lose moisture naturally from their leaves, in a process called transpiration.
12. Fill vases with water.
If you can put them in sunny locations, it will help warm up the water to evaporate it. I'm starting a few new plants by rooting them in water. Or, what better excuse to buy some fresh flowers for yourself! You do need to add some humidity to the house from having a vase full of water - you might as well fill it!
13. When showering, leave the bathroom door open and the exhaust fan off.
Let the steam escape from your hot shower into the hallway or other rooms. Just make sure there isn't too much moisture. Signs of that are condensation on the inside of the windows. If it's more serious, the wood can be damaged and mold can also grow.
14. Leave water in the tub.
It can evaporate from there. The most water vapor comes from the warmer water. Make sure this isn't causing too much moisture in the bathroom.
15. Set your dishwasher to air dry dishes.
Don't use the dishwasher's drying cycle.
Or, if you do, open the door slightly right when the dishwasher is done. Newer dishwashers don't totally dry dishes and that moisture can escape when the door is opened.
Humidifying Ideas for older homes..
16. Put bowls of water on your radiators.
If your radiators are covered or uncovered, they are producing heat and can evaporate water. That's what folks with radiators all used to do in past years.
17. Put water on your old-fashioned floor vents.
Do you have old large floor vents? I put my pet's water bowls on them. The water does evaporate from them - I need to refill them daily! This heat source is available anyway so why not give it another purpose (evaporating water).
18. Put water under your floor grates.
Found out about this from a forum I just joined of owners of old homeowners. For now, I've put some small glass containers full of water. But, apparently, there are containers that are made for this purpose. I will update if I find more info. on this.
19. Preventative maintenance, prevent/stop air leaks.
If you have a newer house, this may apply to you too! The cold dry air entering your home is contributing to the overall dryness of your house. Seal any leaks that you can find, especially in those old basements. Areas to focus on are around where utilities come in from the outside. Think of areas around plumbing, electrical, furnace, and dryer vents. Also, the area where the top of the house meets the basement needs to be sealed and/or insulated.
20. Have a woodburning stove? Put a stove steamer on it.
This is literally made to be filled with water, will boil on the woodburning stove and the water will evaporate. Stove steamers are usually cast iron and an example looks like this.
Hope I have helped you with some new ideas to introduce humidity in your home!
If you do something I haven't mentioned, just make sure to let me know!
Are you a Pinterest person? If yes, please pin the image below. It really does help me!