During the winter months as we're sealed up in our homes trying to keep warm, a by-product occurs. The air inside our homes gets dry, and the overall quality of the air can suffer. The EPA estimates that our indoor air can in some instances be 10 times more polluted than the air outside. With a small investment you can improve the air quality in your home to help you breathe easier and also feel more comfortable.
The first step is to add some humidity to the air. By raising the relative humidity to 25-35 percent you will no longer feel like your skin is as dry as a desert. And that dry cough and static you can sometimes get will be a thing of the past.
With a small humidistat or hygrometer you can test the humidity in your home. If the reading is under 20 percent, then purchasing and using a room humidifier might be the right course. There are many different units on the market; I am a believer in cool mist units that are easy to maintain. The Venta Sonic humidifiers are very efficient and with their once-a-year filter cartridge, maintenance is easy. They offer a humidifier that retails for $199 and can be purchased at hardware and houseware stores or at: ventasonic.com.
If you want to increase humidity the “old school” way at a very low cost, then you can try the Breath Easy® II. This is a modern version of what was used 100 years ago to add humidity to homes. These units clamp onto your heat registers or on top of your radiator. As air passes over the water, humidity is added with no electricity or added sound. They retail for around $16 and can be found at vesperresearch.com.
Whole-house humidity can be added with a unit that connects to your forced-air furnace like the AprilAire 600 series. This professionally installed unit will deliver even humidity throughout your home. A unit professionally installed runs between $350-$500, depending on your furnace setup. To learn more go to: aprilaire.com.
Filtering your air
Air quality can be improved dramatically with the use of high-efficiency furnace filters. Products like the 3M Filtrete air filters can reduce airborne particles by up to 50 percent as compared to inexpensive fiberglass filters. By capturing more of the dust and allergens that flow through your heating and cooling system, you will be able to breathe easier and even cut down on the dust in your home. They cost between $12.99-$20.99, depending on the style. (Learn more at Filtrete.com.)
Using an indoor air purifier can really help with the air quality in your home as well. While there are many different whole-house units on the market that work very well, they can be cost prohibitive for many homeowners, and not available to renters. Room purifiers, when used correctly and maintained, can really help. The Bionaire® Permatech® Tower Air cleaner has a HEPA filter that never needs to be replaced. The unit indicates when the filter needs cleaning and can improve the air quality in a room as large as 13 x13 feet. It retails for $169 and can be found at Bionaire.com. The 3M Filtrete Ultra Clean Air Purifier uses their patented filter system and can clean the air in an area as large as 160 square feet. The unit retails for $199 and replacement filters cost around $20. With any room purification unit, the trick is to pay attention to the room size that it’s rated for and size it correctly. Then let it run 24/7. By allowing the air to pass through the filter, what’s lurking in the air can be trapped, resulting in cleaner air in the room.