We don’t really spend much time on average thinking about the quality of the air we breathe. We should, considering how many of our health issues are either caused or aggravated by dry and filthy air.
Many people naively believe that smoke, gases, and airborne particles are only to blame for coughing fits, shortness of breath, and general fatigue, when in fact, humidity plays a much bigger role.
Once you learn that humidity levels in the atmosphere determine everything from your breathing effectiveness to your general health and fatigue, you begin to pay closer attention to the quality of the air you breathe. You’ll also take note of the tools you could employ to boost your health odds.
We can either use humidifiers or dehumidifiers, each with its own particularities, features, and limitations. Over the next few minutes, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of using either of these devices. We will also get a better understanding of what sets them apart from one another.
Table of Contents
- 1 What are the Disadvantages of a Dehumidifier?
- 2 Should You Use a Humidifier or Dehumidifier in Winter?
- 3 Does a Humidifier or Dehumidifier Help with Congestion?
- 4 Dehumidifier vs Humidifier for a Stuffy Nose
- 5 How Do I Know if I Need a Dehumidifier?
- 6 Dehumidifier vs Humidifier for Baby
- 7 FAQs
- 8 Conclusion
What are the Disadvantages of a Dehumidifier?
Before we delve into the specifics, let’s point out that it isn’t just the humidity levels that should concern you, but other, more pressing and immediate concerns.
Cost of Electricity
The first thing one needs to consider when buying any long-term household appliance is exactly how costly will it be to actually operate such a device.
In order to improve indoor air quality, you’ll have to keep a dehumidifier plugged in at all times. The overall costs of electricity should give you pause to some degree. This is true even for energy-efficient dehumidifiers, it’s a simple matter of supply.
Bear in mind that cheaper dehumidifiers use up a lot more electricity than reputable models made by well-renowned manufacturers. That said, an energy-efficient dehumidifier will surely cost you a lot more upon purchase.
Another thing you have to consider is the noise level. As efficient as the device may be, even a decent dehumidifier produces on average between 20 to 50 dB. This can be quite bothersome in the long run, especially if you share your living space with someone else or if you simply prefer a quiet environment.
More often than not, people definitely notice just how noisy a dehumidifier can be when the device operates during the night.
As an alternative, some folks have started using desiccant dehumidifiers. These devices create less noise by virtue of having fewer mechanical parts, albeit at the cost of a higher price of purchase and more expensive maintenance costs over time.
Although you want your dehumidifier to keep the air dry, the dry skin it causes is no joke. In fact, people with sensitive skin have downright stopped using dehumidifiers altogether once they realized what effect such devices can have on sensitive skin.
By removing excess moisture, dehumidifiers remove the humidity that the outer skin layers sometimes use to moisturize. This happens because skin oils allow more dust particles to stick to the skin during the day, causing it to dry out over time.
Should You Use a Humidifier or Dehumidifier in Winter?
Humidity levels change quite a lot during the winter months, so much in fact that it impacts the effectiveness of both humidifiers and dehumidifiers. This is made worse by space heaters and other heat-dispensing appliances.
To put it in simple terms – the more cold air enters the home the drier the air inside the house will be. As for the air outside, humidity levels greatly affect the outside temperature. In other words, cold winter air is dry, so you’ll have to not only warm it up once it gets inside the house but humidify it as well.
It is generally accepted that a household should not get to less than 30% humidity during the winter for health and safety reasons. Any lower than that and frost can accumulate and cause damage to your health and to your household appliances.
Using a Humidifier During Winter
To ensure that your household’s humidity stays within healthy parameters, you should consider using a humidifier to:
- Make sure that your home gets a constant supply of clean air
- Protect against chapped lips, dry skin, and nose bleeds
- Deal with excess static electricity within the household
Bear in mind that dry air can also cause permanent damage to your walls and furniture, not to mention wooden floors. Although this could also be solved by insulating your house, a humidifier is a much cheaper solution.
Using a Dehumidifier During Winter
The use of dehumidifiers is recommended for people who live in cold climates and who are at risk of their household’s humidity levels rising exponentially during winter. You can use a dehumidifier to:
- Inhibit the growth of mold on your walls and ceilings
- Eliminate pest infestations like dust mites which are reliant on humid environments
- Deal with a wide range of allergies and health issues
- Remove heavy, wet air from inside the house
Note that while dry air does indeed cause damage to your floors, walls, and furniture, so does humidity. The average household experiences a fair share of mold and other humidity-related issues at some point or another, and not many people have the knowledge to invest in a home dehumidifier.
Does a Humidifier or Dehumidifier Help with Congestion?
Many think that air purifiers alone can be used to help with allergies. In truth, allergies come about for a variety of reasons, all related to a person’s sensibilities. The level of humidity in the average household has a much bigger impact on triggering congestion and allergies.
A dehumidifier won’t really help you with a dry, stuffy nose. Humidity can cause a range of other respiratory issues like bronchitis or even pneumonia. It’s not just the humid air that causes these issues but rather the allergens and bacteria that thrive in humid environments.
Having a dehumidifier in your living room can and will help, however, if you have a wet, runny nose. This is because dehumidifiers make air drier, which results in the thickening of the mucus blocking the nasal passage.
At the same time, humid air can trigger certain allergy symptoms, especially if the air is also stale and unfiltered. Allergic asthma is among the allergy symptoms most commonly triggered by humid air, and so are skin rashes and eczema.
Dehumidifier vs Humidifier for a Stuffy Nose
Many people experience a stuffed nose during the hot summer months, which is normal under the circumstances. You can actually count on it given how easily dust particles get into the house during the summer with all the open windows.
Although rare in humid climates, you can still experience a stuffed nose if your home is deprived of humidifiers, dehumidifiers, or air purifiers.
A stuffy nose is what you commonly get when the air inside the house is too dry. A humidifier can help quite a lot by making it difficult for impurities to travel through the air and get stuck to the mucus in your nostrils.
On the other hand, a stuffy nose can also be caused by allergies, which is where a dehumidifier comes into play. With a dehumidifier, the chances for allergens to thrive inside your house are greatly reduced.
There is an ideal humidity level that you should aim for, and that’s between 30 to 40 percent for most households. This changes ever so slightly if you have a baby or small children, but other than that, you should aim for 35% for good measure.
Any deviation from these standards is likely to cause a stuffy or runny nose depending on which way the humidity level leans. Keep in mind that this only applies to indoor humidity because the air outside varies greatly due to changes in temperature, wind, and the presence of airborne pathogens.
How Do I Know if I Need a Dehumidifier?
There are many ways to determine if you need a dehumidifier or not, but we should probably focus on the most common. You know you need a dehumidifier if:
- You find mold – If you find mold around the house anywhere, chances are that the air inside the house is a bit too humid. Bear in mind that inhaling mold spores can lead to some pretty serious health problems like wheezing, watery eyes, a stuffy nose, and even bronchitis or pneumonia. If you run across any mold inside the house or basement, it’s a clear sign that you should invest in a dehumidifier sooner rather than later.
- You see damp stains – Similar to mold, damp stains tend to form on the walls when the humidity in your household goes over 60%. In that regard, if you see condensation building up on the windows, walls, or ceilings, it’s a clear sign that your house is a bit too humid by most standards. If left unaddressed, excess humidity will lead to furniture and wall degradation over time.
- You experience physical discomfort – Another clear sign that your humidity levels are off the charts is when you experience a great deal of physical discomfort but you can’t explain why. This can be anything from a hot, sticky feeling, a stuffed nose, or a cough. This type of discomfort can easily turn into long-term health issues if you don’t address it in a timely fashion, so don’t ignore it thinking it will go away on its own.
- You see wood rot on the floors and furniture – This is pretty self-explanatory. If you happen to run across wood rot on your hardwood floors or furniture, it can be pretty obvious that you have a humidity problem. This kind of rot doesn’t usually occur without long-term exposure to humidity so whatever causes it to appear on the wooden surfaces in your home is likely to cause your lungs and nose a lot of harm.
Dehumidifier vs Humidifier for Baby
You might have noticed that people sometimes set up humidifiers and dehumidifiers in the baby’s room, but is all that really necessary?
Well, kind of. You see, a baby’s respiratory system is a lot more vulnerable than that of an adult’s, so any preemptive measurements you can take to limit a baby’s exposure to allergens, mites, or pathogens, can prove to be very useful.
You should know that many pediatricians actually recommend cool mist humidifiers for new parents to combat stuffy noses and earaches. Why cool mist humidifiers you ask? Because, unlike warm-mist humidifiers, cold ones won’t injure your baby’s skin if he/she gets too close to it.
It’s a similar story with dehumidifiers. We talked about the problems that humid environments can cause both short and long-term, and it can be a lot more dangerous for babies on account of how vulnerable they are. While a damp environment might cause an adult a stuffy nose or a coughing fit, it can pose serious health risks for a newborn baby.
Should dehumidifiers and humidifiers be used all year long?
Although you should alter their operating parameters depending on the season, you should probably keep them turned on at all times regardless of the weather outside.
Humidifiers vs Dehumidifiers, which makes more noise?
In general, dehumidifiers tend to make more noise overall. By comparison, warm mist humidifiers can also make a fair bit of noise on account of their mechanical components but are still quieter than dehumidifiers.
What type of water does a humidifier use?
Tap water for the most part. Bear in mind that some humidifiers might require filtered water if they incorporate elaborate systems but this is usually reserved for high-end machines.
How much water does a dehumidifier remove?
This actually depends on room temperature, the dehumidifier’s power, and the relative humidity in that particular room. On average, you can expect a dehumidifier to remove between 30 to 70 pints of water per day.
Unlike air purifiers and other household air-related appliances, both humidifiers and dehumidifiers have an immediate impact on your home’s air quality. This isn’t to say that they all operate at similar parameters from a functional point of view, it’s just that they tend to work faster on average.
There are quite a few types of humidifiers and dehumidifiers to choose from, and their overall functionality may indeed vary across a certain spectrum. At the end of the day, that has more to do with your choices than with the machines themselves.
All you need to know is that both humidifiers and dehumidifiers have an important role in a modern household, even small ones, and you would do your family a service to invest in one of each.
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