As the winter months roll around, so does the need to adjust our lifestyles to cope with the dipping temperatures and drier conditions. Aside from the need to keep ourselves warm, one winter symptom that may often get overlooked is the degree of moisture in our environment – in other words, the humidity, referring to the degree of airborne water vapor. The drier the air, the more the likelihood of cracked, dry, dull and irritable skin, brittle and frizzy hair, allergies and flu outbreaks, and even cracking or loose furniture. And unfortunately, one of the downsides of heating up our homes to hold up against the cold is, simplifying the science of it, lower humidity.
This is where a humidifier comes in. Pumping moisture back into the air can help regulate indoor environments to address many of the problems winter dryness brings in its wake, and has been proven to contribute to healthier living, with multiple benefits.
Reduces likelihood of sickness
Many of us automatically associate winter with an outbreak of illness, but what if we told you a humidifier can help you with that? A study conducted in 2013 – and verified several times since – found that increasing humidity above 43% led to the transmission of disease-causing viruses to fall to 14%, compared to an alarming 70% in lower humidity conditions. This is because, when the degree of humidity is higher, moisture grabs on to airborne bacteria and/or viruses, making them too heavy to stay airborne.
Not only does this greatly cut down the likelihood of you catching a cold or the flu during the winter months, it can also help speed up your recovery time if you do happen to be sick. The drier winter conditions can mean your nasal passage doesn’t drain properly, thick mucus clogging up your system, making for blocked noses and dry, itchy sinuses making you miserable. Higher humidity keeps your sinuses and nasal passages working more smoothly, letting all the built-up germs work their way out of your system without exacerbating your condition, and letting you recover faster.
Reduces likelihood of allergies
While there’s some argument for excessive humidity creating breeding grounds for allergens like dust mites, mold and mildew, picking a unit that lets you set your humidifier at a lower humidity setting, regularly cleaning out your humidifier and opting for an option with an air purifying filter can massively cut down on the airborne allergens floating around and aggravating you and your household, including any allergy-prone pets. Those already experiencing an allergy attack may also find relief from having a humidifier around, keeping your nasal passage and throat from drying out and aggravating the condition further.
Promotes healthier skin and hair
There’s no shortage of moisturisers and body butters on the market for winter-dry skin, but if at the end of the day you’re not hydrated, none of them are going to have much of a lasting effect. The drier air leads to greater moisture loss, especially from any exposed skin, like your hands, face and lips. Chapped, dry and cracking skin can feel dull, lifeless and irritable, not to mention painful and potentially debilitating in the long-run when it comes to conditions like eczema, or the damage your skin’s elasticity takes, spurring on skin ageing. Restoring a little humidity to the air easily takes care of this problem – the presence of water vapor in your environment ensures less moisture loss from your body, and coupled with regular hydration can keep your skin looking and feeling lively and young.
The same applies to your hair and scalp – the drier your scalp, the more likely an uptick in dandruff and unpleasant itchiness, and the drier your hair, the more brittle and dull it is. A humidifier is a simple solution to keeping these problems on the down-low.
Helps you sleep better
If you or your partner tend to snore at night, you might find the problem exacerbated during the winter months. Keeping your throat, nostrils and sinuses from drying out can not only prevent an uptick in snoring, but also waking up to a coughing fit from aggravated and dried out nasal passages, and nasty and painful nosebleeds too. This also means you don’t wake up with a scratchy voice, since your vocal chords wouldn’t have dried up while you slept.
The right degree of humidity can help eliminate all those unpleasant cases of static electricity buzzing through your home during dry winter months, so you won’t find your hair frizzing up and standing on end when you brush it, or jolt back from static shock after contact with your carpet or your pet’s fur.
Keeps your warmer
Research has indicated a correlation between how much moisture there is in the air and how warm or cold you feel. When there’s less moisture in the air, evaporation of moisture from your skin can make you feel even colder because the evaporation of sweat is a naturally cooling mechanism of the body. More moisture in the air, subsequently, means less evaporation of moisture off your skin, so you won’t feel as cold, and won’t have to crank up the heating – which in turn helps you save up on electricity bills.
Keeps your furniture safe
Have you ever noticed your wooden furniture growing loose or wobbly during winter months, or your wood-paned doors and windows not shutting properly? This is because the loss of moisture and dropping temperatures cause wood to shrink – which can be pretty problematic if your door won’t stay closed or your furniture becomes unstable with loose and rickety joints. A humidifier can fix all of that, improving the longevity of your wooden furniture, fittings or anything else made out of wood, like pianos and guitars for instance, and preventing them from cracking or splitting.
Keeps your houseplants happy
Similar to the human body, plants also lose moisture during drier months and can shrivel up if there isn’t enough moisture in the air. Dry, sandy soil is an indication that it’s too dry for your plants to properly grow, thrive and nourish themselves. Aside from your regular watering sessions and plant maintenance, having a humidifier around during the winter months keeps your potted plants and succulents green and thriving even through the cold, preventing moisture loss. In fact, many plants generally prefer humidity levels between 40 to 60% to grow healthily and happily.