Central heating and cooling systems have revolutionized the way homeowners make their homes comfortable. But many people find that heating and cooling systems have a tendency to make areas in their homes more dry than they would be if the windows were open.

Without adequate indoor humidity, static electricity proliferates, and living environments may not be as pleasant as they could be. According to Lennox, makers of heating and cooling components, dry air can compromise peoples’ respiratory systems. When membranes in the nose and throat dry out, they cannot capture dirt, viruses and bacteria, potentially resulting in illness. Dry air can cause itchy, flaky skin as well as irritation in the nose, leading to nosebleeds.

Dry air in a home also can affect the structure of a home. Dry air will pull moisture from wherever it can be sourced, including wood structures in a home. This may cause walls and door jambs to shift and floors to creak. Even wood furniture can bend and crack if indoor conditions are especially dry.

Homeowners can remedy dry air in various ways. Some methods are relatively simple, while others may require substantial financial investments and even some renovation.
DIY remedies – Do-it-yourself remedies are simply ways to put moisture in the air. One of the easiest steps is to put bowls filled with water in front of or on heating registers or radiant heating units in the house. The water will evaporate slowly into the home. Another and similar tactic is to boil a large tea kettle or pot of water to distribute moisture throughout a space.

When showering, leave the door to the bathroom open to distribute steam throughout the house. For those who use the tub, allow the water to cool off and evaporate before pulling the drain.

Humidifiers – Humidifiers come as whole-house central units or portable devices. Portable units can be moved from room to room depending on where moisture is needed the most. These humidifiers hold a predetermined volume of water and mist it into the air when the unit is on.

Central humidifiers work with the home’s HVAC system. They are hard-wired and plugged into the system. Water vapor is introduced into the air that will be forced through vents throughout the house. These systems work on the whole house at once, making them quite efficient.

Many experts advise homeowners to keep their indoor home humidity between 40 and 60 percent for ultimate comfort. Investing in a hygrometer to measure relative humidity will help homeowners keep humidity at a level that produces a pleasant and comfortable environment.