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Humidifiers Cool Heating Bills

I am in the market for a room humidifier, but I don’t know which type is best for my home. Can using a humidifier reduce my heating bills even though evaporating water cools? Is using only one adequate for my house?—Greg S.

Most people suffer during winter from overly dry air in their homes. Because the indoor humidity level drops or increases gradually as seasons change, however, people may not notice the variation in humidity levels.

Properly humidified indoor air is comfortable and healthy, and it can reduce your heating bills. Room humidifiers typically use less energy than a 100-watt light bulb. Many models have humidistats that automatically switch the unit on and off, saving even more power.

There is a cooling effect when the water from the humidifier evaporates, so running the humidifier will actually cool a room’s air slightly. However, the heat generated from the humidifier’s electricity usage offsets the slight cooling effect.

Running a humidifier helps save energy by reducing the chilling effect of the evaporation of skin moisture. Humidifying the air lets you feel comfortable at a lower room temperature. This allows you to set the furnace thermostat lower. You can save 1 to 2 percent on heating bills for each degree you lower your thermostat, much more energy than the humidifier uses.

Choosing humidifiers
The proper type of room humidifier depends on your family’s needs and your home’s size and room layout. One or two room humidifiers are generally enough for a reasonably airtight home. Older, leaky houses may need more or larger-capacity models.

Humidity in the indoor air tends to naturally migrate throughout the house. Cooking, bathing, and washing clothes and dishes also add a significant amount of moisture to room air. Often they add too much in specific rooms, such as bathrooms.

For daytime use, an evaporative type of humidifier is effective and the least expensive to buy. These humidifiers use a wick material that draws up water from a reservoir. A fan inside the humidifier draws room air through the wick, where it evaporates into the airstream.

Evaporative humidifiers are easy to keep clean, which is important to minimize mold and microbe growth in the wick. Some wicks are treated with an antimicrobial substance.

Good choices for the bedroom

If you or your children tend to get colds, a warm mist humidifier would be a good bedroom choice. These models boil water to create vapor, which is mixed with room air before it comes out so it is not too hot.

Another design uses ultrasonic waves to create water vapor mist. These are the most energy efficient, using about 50 watts of electricity. A quiet fan, which won’t interrupt sleep, blows mist into the room.

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