Keeping a proper humidity level in a home can improve comfort and health. For most people, acceptable humidity levels range around 20 percent in the winter and 60 percent in the summer. There are several ways to increase humidity if the home is too dry. Using a humidifier is one option, but there are natural ways to humidify the home. These include the use of plants, using an evaporative cooler, keeping the thermostat set lower in the winter, and venting clothes dryers into the house or drying clothes on a line indoors.
Plants inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen and water, "breathing" moisture into the air of a home. In addition, water poured into plants’ soil or misted on the leaves enhances humidity in the home. Plants may also help reduce disease-causing factors. B.C. Wolverton and John D. Wolverton wrote in their 1996 article in the Journal of Mississippi Academics that “Findings indicate ... that large quantities of houseplants may be used to increase humidity levels and suppress levels of mold spores and other airborne microbes inside energy-efficient buildings, while reducing air polluting substances.”
Evaporative coolers (sometimes called “swamp coolers”) are common in dry climates. Hot outside air is drawn into the cooler and passes over water-saturated pads. The water evaporates, and the energy used in this exchange cools and humidifies the air. Evaporative coolers are less expensive than conventional air conditioners and introduce a constant stream of fresh outside air into the home rather than recirculating inside air. They do require regular and careful maintenance but are not costly to maintain.
Lower the Thermostat
Furnaces, heaters and heat pumps heat the air in a house, accelerating evaporation of the existing moisture inside the home and dropping the humidity to uncomfortable levels. Reducing the amount of hot air required to heat a room helps to lessen this effect. The lower the heat, the less evaporation will occur. Keeping the thermostat below 70 degrees in the winter will help improve humidity in the house.
Hanging clothes on hangers or on indoor clothes lines puts extra moisture in the air as the clothes slowly dry. A dryer vent diverter can be installed that routes dryer exhaust air into the house instead of toward the outside. These diverters are available at most home improvement stores. Clean the lint away from the openings after each dryer load and do not install diverters on gas dryers because of the risk of flammable lint coming in contact with the heating flame.