Toddler child standing in front of a big french doors overlooking snowy weather outside

The cold winter months have arrived, and lower temperatures bring lower humidity levels. It may not be a problem when you’re bundled up enjoying outdoor activities, but lower than ideal indoor humidity winter-time can lead to chronic issues with your skin and respiration. It may not be something you think about often but having enough moisture in the air helps keep you comfortable and healthy.

When it comes to maintaining ideal indoor humidity, winter makes things tough. In this guide, we’ll talk about how humidity is measured and what humidity levels are best for your home. We’ll also talk about tips to raise indoor humidity in the winter and provide recommendations for products that can help.

How is Indoor Humidity Measured?

Humidity comes from the amount of water vapor in the air. As water evaporates from lakes, oceans, and other large bodies of water, it enters the atmosphere. The higher the temperature, the more moisture the air can hold. So, generally speaking, humidity levels tend to drop along with temperature.

In the winter, it can be a challenge to maintain proper humidity levels indoors. Outside, the air could have a 100% relative humidity at a temperature of 41°F. Because humans generally aren’t comfortable at such a low temperature, however, we tend to warm things up. Heating the indoor air to 73°F would drop the relative humidity to 33% simply because warm air has the potential to hold more water.

Poor humidity levels in your home can have a negative impact on your health and on the home itself. Excessive humidity creates an environment for mold to grow while low humidity levels can make the air dry and uncomfortable.

What is the Ideal Indoor Humidity Level for a House?

If the humidity level in your home is too low, you’re likely to feel it. Low humidity levels can lead to moisture loss through respiration and through your pores, causing chronically dry skin. It can also cause your nose and throat to feel scratchy or congested and may even increase your susceptibility to respiratory infection.

The best way to avoid these side effects is to maintain ideal indoor humidity. Winter makes that tough at times, but the best humidity level for a home is between 30% and 50%. It’s a good idea to monitor indoor humidity levels using a hygrometer. If you notice your humidity levels are chronically low, it may be time to invest in some kind of humidifier.

Before moving on, we’d like to address one more common question: what is the ideal humidity for a basement?

Most people don’t spend as much time in the basement as they do other parts of the home, so it may be less important to maintain optimal humidity levels in this area. That being said, the ideal humidity level for any indoor space is still 30% to 50%. Having a wet basement is a more common issue than a dry basement, though it may depend on the climate and season.

Ways to Increase Indoor Humidity

There are plenty of ways to make your home more comfortable. If the air is too damp, for example, you can use a dehumidifier to remove some of the excess moisture. For low humidity levels, especially during the winter, it may be necessary to use a humidifier instead.

Before you jump to buying a whole-home humidifier, however, there are a few simple things you can try to boost humidity levels. Try drying your clothes on a drying rack instead of using a tumble dyer, making sure you have plenty of ventilation as you do. Lowering your indoor temperature might help as well, and you should open the door while showering to spread humidity. Using lotion can help alleviate itchy skin and eye drops can help lubricate your eyes.

If these measures are not enough, consider purchasing a humidifier. It may take time for a humidifier to work, but it could be the simple solution you’re looking for.

There are two primary options: a small, portable humidifier or a furnace humidifier. Portable humidifiers can be used in the bedroom or other small rooms to humidify the space where you spend most of your time. A furnace humidifier, on the other hand, is a whole-home solution you install directly into your HVAC system.

Here are our recommendations for in-home humidifiers:

Honeywell 800 Square Foot Cool Mist Humidifier

With its 1.1-gallon capacity, this portable humidifier is perfect for large rooms up to 800 square feet. As a cool mist humidifier, it adds cool moisture to the air, and it runs quietly which makes it a great choice for bedrooms and nurseries. This model is economically priced and easy to operate.

Crane Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

Available in a wide range of colors, this ultrasonic humidifier is perfect for medium to large rooms. This humidifier offers variable speed settings, so you can achieve the ideal indoor humidity level in rooms up to 500 square feet. Made from antimicrobial material, this model prevents mold and bacteria growth to keep your family safe and it is whisper-quiet in operation.

Vicks Mini Filter-Free Cool Mist Humidifier

Perfect for small rooms, this 0.5-gallon humidifier is a desktop solution for increasing indoor humidity. Because it is filter-free, this humidifier is easy to maintain. You simply enjoy a cool, moisturizing mist for up to 20 hours at a time. It also runs quietly, making it a good option for bedrooms.

Honeywell Home HE280A Whole House Humidifier

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution to low indoor humidity levels, this whole-house humidifier from Honeywell could be an option. It installs directly into your HVAC system and disperses moisture through the existing ductwork to increase humidity levels overall. This model is energy efficient and uses 30% less water than standard models, plus it can be conveniently mounted either to the warm air supply or a return air duct.

Aprilaire 600MZ Whole Home Humidifier

For large homes up to 6,000 square feet, this furnace humidifier is an excellent option. It offers a maximum output of 17 gallons per day and utilizes evaporative technology to keep you comfortable. This model helps minimize the formation of bacteria, fungus, and dust mites to help prevent allergies and enables you to manually control the humidifier using a single built-in sensor.

Maintaining proper humidity levels, especially during the winter, is important for keeping your home cozy and comfortable. By utilizing some of the tips above, you may be able to achieve this goal. But if you still need a little extra help, consider one of the humidifiers we’ve recommended.