During the winter, dry air can be a big problem. In addition to the annoying static electricity shocks and itchy skin, dry air can also damage wood furniture, windows, doors and floors.

An automatic whole-house humidifier is a great way to provide worry-free relief. This automated, computerized device is connected to your existing heating system to provide continuous, no-maintenance moisture control.

How it works

  • The automatic humidifier is connected to your furnace and a water pipe.
  • When the indoor and outdoor electronics sensors determine that the humidity level is too low, they signal the water valve to open.
  • The water flows over a mesh panel, where it evaporates from the heat produced by your furnace.
  • The moist air is carried throughout your entire home through the furnace ductwork and vents.

The benefits

One of the biggest advantages of a whole-house humidifier is the automation. You'll never have to check gauges, make adjustments or continually fill the water reservoir. And instead of just one room, you can humidify your entire home.

The computerized sensors measure both indoor and outdoor humidity 86,000 times a day, and manufacturers say the units are three times more accurate and four times more reliable than manual models. In addition, whole-house models are quieter than room-sized humidifiers.

Automatic humidifiers also eliminate a big health hazard common with smaller units - stagnant water. The water tank in a room-size humidifier is a breeding ground for mold, bacteria and other illness-inducing micro-organisms.

Instead of cleaning, disinfecting and refilling a water tank every day, the only maintenance required with a whole-house humidifier is replacing the mesh water panel once a year - which your service technician can do during your annual furnace tune-up.

The cost

An automatic humidifier will cost around $350-$450 to have installed by your heating contractor.

Keep in mind that proper humidity levels can make you feel warmer, so you might be able to turn down your thermostat a few degrees and save enough energy to pay back a good portion of the purchase price.

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