In cold climates, wintertime doesn’t just mean chilly air – it means very dry air as well. Adding humidity into the air in your home can make it more comfortable, but did you know it can save energy too? Maintaining the proper humidity level in your home can make it feel several degrees warmer – which means staying just as comfortable with the thermostat set lower.
A really humid summer day feels even hotter than the number on the thermometer, right? This is due to the phenomenon of apparent temperature, where humidity blocks the cooling effect of evaporation. Unfortunately, cold dry air encourages evaporative cooling, making a chilly room feel even colder.
Any weather report usually includes the percentage of relative humidity, the proportion of humidity in the air relative to how much moisture that air could hold. Warm air can hold much more moisture than cold air, which is why your home gets so dry in the winter: for example, if the outside air is 0 degrees F with 75% relative humidity, that same air will have just 4% relative humidity when warmed up to 70 degrees in your home!
Adding Humidity In Your Home
First of all, you don’t want things so damp that moisture builds up, so do a quick check of the indoor humidity. Drop a few ice cubes in a glass of water and stir. If there’s no condensation on the outside of the glass after three minutes, the air in your home is too dry. You can also just look out the window: if you usually see fog on the glass when it’s cold out, that means the indoor air already has plenty of moisture.
The Best Humidifier (At Least, It’s Our Favorite)
OK, enough science – what can you do to make your home more comfortable?
If your home is too dry, add moisture to the air. Raising the relative humidity in very dry room temperature air to just 40% levels will make it feel up to six degrees warmer! Put another way, this means you can stay just as comfortable while saving a substantial amount of energy by turning down the thermostat.
We love this compact room humidifier from Brookstone. It’s just 12″ tall, the 60-oz. tank is removable and easy to fill, and it has a timer as well as an automatic shut-off when empty. It also features an aroma tray, and best of all it looks darn cool.
Brooksonic Hybrid Ultrasonic Humidifier and Diffuser, $149.99 at Amazon.