Should I Buy Humidifier Add-on for HVAC System? Is That Worth the Money?

Dehumidifiers and humidifiers are two separate accessories that can be installed as part of your central HVAC system.

Both components are effective:

  • Dehumidifiers remove six to 12 gallons of water from the air in your home each day
  • Humidifiers can make the air comfortable even in arid climates or when the furnace threatens to dry out your home in winter

This guide is mainly talking about the whole-house humidifier add-on for HVAC system. For HVAC dehumidifier buying guide, you can read here: HVAC Dehumidifier Add-on for HVAC

What is a Whole House Humidifier?

It is a component added to the furnace, air handler or ductwork in your home. Many have a sponge-type pad or roller that is kept moist by a water feed. As air warmed by your furnace passes over the pad or roller, water is evaporated and carried into the living spaces of your home. Other units eliminate pads and create cold vapor or hot steam that mixes with circulating air. Most have the potential to add 15 to 30 gallons of moisture to your home per day. They are controlled by a humidistat to prevent over-humidification.

Whole-House vs Stand-Alone Humidifiers

Stand-alone models don’t humidify a very large space, and they use more electricity than whole-house humidifiers. Electricity consumption is multiplied if you need more than one room model to make your home comfortable.

In a small home or apartment that needs just one humidifier, then a stand-alone unit might be sufficient. Otherwise, a whole-house unit is a better choice.

The Cost Bonus of Humidified Air

Just as you feel cooler in drier air, you feel warmer in humidified air. When running a humidifier during the heating season, you’ll be able to keep your thermostat set lower and still feel warm. This can amount to savings of $25 to $50 per month, enough to cover the cost of electricity for running a whole house humidifier.

Whole House Humidifier Cost

This table summarizes the essential costs and lists top brands.

TypeUnit CostInstallation CostEnergy CostBrands
Pad/Roller$135-$275$450-$650$4-$8/monthAprilaire
Carrier
Honeywell
Lennox
Vapor/Steam$650-$900$450-$650$10-$20/month

Cost factors include the capacity of the humidifier, it’s features and the complexity of installation.

Room humidifiers cost $30 to $115, so are less expensive. However, the cost to run them each month can be $10-$20 for a vapor model and $30-$50 for a steam model.

Is a Whole House Humidifier Worth the Cost?

It’s helpful to have a humidistat in your home to measure humidity in the air. The most comfortable level is between 35% and 45% for most people and pets. If your humidity is lower than that, then a humidifier might be a good idea. The driest homes are in arid climates and are those that have a forced air HVAC system.

Here are a few specific issues that might affect your decision:

Skin health: For some, overly dry skin can become a health issue, so keeping the air properly humidified is essential.

Comfort: Dry skin, eyes and nasal passages aren’t pleasant, even if not serious. A properly sized whole-house humidifier will solve them.

Floors and furniture: If you have hardwood flooring, the best humidity range is 35% to 55%. Even if dry air doesn’t bother you, it might cause your hardwood to dry out. That can cause gaps between planks and, in the extremely dry air, cause it to crack. In the constantly dry air, the wood of furniture can be damaged and glue can dry out and lose effectiveness.

If you face any of those issues, consider talking with an HVAC pro about your humidification options. Our Free Local Quotes service puts you in touch with some of the top HVAC experts in your area. They are licensed, insured and prescreened for your convenience. There is no cost to you, and you’re not obligated to use any of the estimates you receive. It takes just a minute or two get started.

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