The other day, I was out with my friends, and they were complaining that their hands and feet were very dry and cracked, and that no amount of lotions seemed to help. After all, it is winter in Wheaton. They were also complaining about cold symptoms, and both had recently had flu-like symptoms, even though they had gotten their flu shots.


The thing is, my hands are not dry and cracked, and I have been very healthy this winter – but then, I have a humidifier on my furnace.

Most of us know that humidifying the air in homes can help keep skin moisturized, relieve cold and flu symptoms, and may even help allergy symptoms.  In fact, proper humidity levels will help avoid colds, bloody noses and sinus problems.

If your health was not enough of a reason to consider a humidifier, consider that well hydrated homes will feel warmer at lower temperatures. This can save up to 4% on your heating bill for every degree you lower your thermostat. Add to that the fact that properly humidified air can preserve your wood floors, wood furniture, and even that baby grand piano in your living room. Finally, your humidity can reduce the static electricity that causes uncomfortable “zaps” when you walk across a carpeted floor, but might also wipe out your computer and other delicate electronic equipment.

However, just pumping a lot of moisture into your home can be just as destructive as dry air. Too much moisture can cause mold or mildew and allow bacteria to grow, which could make your family ill.  And electronics are as sensitive to too much humidity as they are to too little.

Keeping your home in a healthy range – between 30% and 45% is the key to good health – for humans, wood, and electronics.

The best solution may be a furnace-mounted humidifier that is sized to fit your home, and equipped with an automatic digital control. A digital control can provide accurate information and automatically deliver the right humidity level, regardless of temperature or conditions. These controls display the relative humidity in the home, shows when the system is running, and automatically turns the HVAC blower on for proper humidification. It also notifies the homeowner when the water panel needs replacement or when service is needed.

The technology behind humidifiers has changed over time, and if you haven’t checked into a furnace mounted humidifier, this winter may be the time – especially if your hands are dry, you are coughing more than you should and you find yourself cranking up the heat.