Will a Humidifier Make My Furnace More Efficient?
Can a Humidifier Help Improve Your Furnace’s Performance?
As another cold winter arrives in Seattle, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll keep your home comfortable over the next several months. While most people depend only on a furnace to keep their homes warm, there’s actually more you can do. One potential solution lies in adding a humidifier to your home. While humidifiers get a lot of hype for a lot of reasons, the question still remains if a humidifier can improve the performance of your furnace. While no two homes are alike, this guide from your friends at Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning should help you better understand if a humidifier is right for your situation.
What Is a Humidifier?
A humidifier, in any form, is a device that converts water from a liquid to a gas and then releases the resulting water vapor into the air in your home. Humidifiers can vaporize water using heat, evaporation, or ultrasonic vibrations. Some types of humidifiers release cool mist, others warm mist, and still others allow you to select the temperature of the mist that they release. Different types of humidifiers are good for simply humidifying the air or for helping to treat cold and flu symptoms.
Your Home’s Relative Humidity
All types of humidifiers, whether they release a cool or warm mist, will raise your home’s relative humidity. Relative humidity is a measure of how much moisture is in the air compared to how much it can theoretically hold at a given temperature. Most people notice relative humidity during the summer when they step outside on a humid day and begin sweating even without doing any physical activity. However, all air, regardless of its temperature, has at least a small amount of water vapor in it. What’s important to understand is that air with a higher relative humidity tends to feel warmer than air with a lower relative humidity. Therefore, increasing the relative humidity inside your home can help the air feel warmer, even if the actual temperature doesn’t change.
Improving Your Furnace’s Efficiency
Every time your furnace runs, it converts electrical or chemical energy into heat energy. Since you have to pay to supply the electrical or chemical energy, Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning recommends that you run your furnace as little as possible. That’s why adding humidity to the air makes so much sense. As you increase the humidity levels in your home, you’ll be able to decrease the temperature on your thermostat, thus allowing your furnace to run less frequently. This will help lower your energy consumption and likely help your furnace last longer.
Sizes of Humidifiers
As with other home comfort products, humidifiers come in many shapes and sizes. Your main choice will be between a single-room humidifier and a whole-home humidifier. Single-room humidifiers work best if you or a family member are suffering from a cold. Significantly boosting the humidity levels in a single room will help your body heal itself more quickly while preventing the rest of your home from becoming too humid. On the other hand, a whole-home humidifier works best when you want to do the most to improve your furnace’s efficiency. A whole-home humidifier can monitor the humidity levels throughout your entire home and make adjustments accordingly. This allows you to keep your home at a comfortable humidity level to the point that each room feels warmer and requires less direct heating. A whole-home humidifier should only be installed by a qualified HVAC contractor like Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning.
Maintaining the Correct Humidity
Any time you use a humidifier, it is vital to maintain the correct humidity levels at all times. The last thing you want to do is cause health and maintenance problems in your home by keeping the humidity levels too high. Remember, though, that the relative humidity levels will decrease as the temperature in your home increases. Therefore, if you prefer to keep your home cooler during the winter, Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning recommends running your humidifier less to prevent excess humidification. The best way to properly maintain your home’s humidity levels is to invest in a good hygrometer, which is a device that measures the moisture content of the air. Once you have this in place, aim to keep your home’s relative humidity levels at no more than 50% at any given time.
Other Benefits of Proper Humidity Levels
The benefits of owning a humidifier go far beyond simply helping your furnace run more efficiently. Health benefits of proper humidity levels include soft skin, fewer colds and faster recovery from colds, lower stress levels, and reduced allergy symptoms. Your home can benefit from extra humidity, as well, because proper humidity levels help prevent wood finishes in your home from drying out and cracking. To help further fight various illnesses, many humidifiers allow you to add liquid medicines so that you can breathe in the resulting soothing vapors.
Considering a Dehumidifier
If you opt for a whole-home humidifier, Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning recommends also investing in a whole-home dehumidifier. Together, these two devices can help to maintain your home’s humidity levels so that you never stray too far toward either humidity extreme. Even if you run into problems with your humidifier and the humidity levels get too high, your dehumidifier can momentarily kick on and remove the excess humidity from the air without you having to open windows or take other actions to get rid of the water vapor. Furthermore, your dehumidifier can work during the summer to keep humidity levels low so that the air in your home feels cooler on your skin. Just like a humidifier can help your furnace run more efficiently, a dehumidifier can help improve the efficiency of your air conditioner.
Proper Furnace Maintenance With a Humidifier
When running a whole-home humidifier, there are a few important maintenance considerations to keep in mind. First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure to keep your system’s ducts dust-free. Dusty ducts will tend to trap the extra water vapor as it flows through your home. Over time, this can lead to mold growth that can cause various illnesses in your family. That’s why Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning recommends a duct inspection every two to three years if you have a whole-home humidifier. Furthermore, you’ll want to stay up to date on your furnace’s maintenance inspections to ensure that the excess moisture isn’t causing any of the furnace’s components to rust.
Your Home Comfort Specialists
At Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning, we are proud to be the home comfort specialists for the entire region. That’s why we install furnaces, maintain humidifiers, repair air conditioners, install water heaters, repair electrical panels, and much more. We also provide free energy consultations to help you find areas in your home that may be wasting energy. Since our founding more than 35 years ago, we’ve been committed to treating every customer with respect and integrity. That’s one big reason why we’ve received the Angie’s List Super Service Award and why we’re rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau. Most importantly, that’s why we consistently receive five-star customer reviews. To learn more about a humidifier for your home, contact us at Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning today.