Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist Humidifiers: Which Should I Choose?

by Jess 20. March 2017 10:50

Winter is wonderful. All of your favorite holidays happen in winter. There’s food and family and gifts and warm snuggly clothes and fireplaces. What’s not to love? Even the snow is nice when you aren’t shoveling it or slogging through it to get to work. It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year, right? But as winter drags on, your skin and your sinuses can really start to take a beating.

Cooler air means drier air, and drier air can make life kind of miserable. Your skin gets dry and itchy, your hair and clothes begin to do all sorts of fun things because of the static in the air, and your sinuses can become dry and painful. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to alleviate these things. Foremost among them? Get a humidifier.

Humidifiers work to combat all that dryness by infusing the air with moisture. There are tons of options for humidifiers from whole home units to personal travel-sized units you can screw on to the top of a water bottle, but one key difference that people can struggle with is whether to purchase a cool mist humidifier or a warm mist humidifier. To make the choice a little clearer, we’ll outline some features of each here.


Warm Mist Humidifiers


  1.  Warm mist humidifiers are, well, warm. There’s a coziness factor here. It’s cold outside after all, and for some people, the thought of shooting a cool mist into an already cool climate gives them chills.
  2. Warm mist humidifiers create higher levels of moisture saturation in the air.
  3. The steam created by warm mist humidifiers kills bacteria in the water, allowing you to breathe easy without worrying about filters.

Cool Mist Humidifiers


  1. Cool mist humidifiers are a good option year-round for drier climates since they add moisture to the air without adding heat.
  2. Cool mist humidifiers employ evaporation to introduce moisture into the air. This prevents over-saturation.
  3. Since there is no heat, cool mist humidifiers do require a humidifier filter to remove impurities.
  4. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a cool mist humidifier to relieve coughs and congestion for kids.


Regardless of what type of humidifier you choose, you’ll be glad to have it when everyone around you is battling the effects of winter dryness. Interested to see which types of humidifier units we carry? Check it out here.


Whole House Humidifier or Portable Humidifier – Which is better?

by Jess 4. January 2017 15:32


‘Tis the season for dry… everything. Winter is here and with cooler temperatures comes dryer air. With cooler temperatures also comes running your heater, which means even dryer air. Your skin and hair are dry and your lips are chapped, but that’s just the beginning. Dry sinuses can lead to nosebleeds and respiratory irritation that can make already annoying conditions like asthma and allergies even worse. That’s not to mention what that same lack of moisture can do to things like your hardwood floors and your furniture.

So what can you do? Well, while you can’t fix what’s going on outside, you can definitely improve things in your home with a humidifier. There are two types of humidifiers: whole-house and portable. Depending on your needs, either one could be a great addition to your home. Below are some pros and cons of each type.



The great thing about a whole-house humidifier is that once you’ve taken the plunge and installed it, you can basically forget that it’s there. It just does its thing and you don’t have to worry about it. Whole-house units work by injecting moisture directly from your home’s water supply into your blower system. There a couple of different methods for doing that, but the end result is the same. This unit will keep humidity in your home basically constant throughout the year. Cost-wise, a whole-house unit is a great choice. Initial costs are low compared to portable units and running costs can be as low as pennies per year. Depending on the state of your water supply, you may see that this unit collects some deposits, but a regular cleaning each year can keep this from becoming a bigger issue.


The best thing about a portable humidifier unit is its convenience. There is no major installation required and you can move it around to where you need or want it the most. There are a range of sizes available to suit your individual needs, from a desktop unit to one powerful enough to keep several rooms at optimum humidity. This is all great if you have a very small area you’re worried about or if you’re a renter, say. Unfortunately convenience comes with some downsides. Portable units tend to be much more expensive than whole-house units. While they are portable, they tend to be heavy. They don’t have your furnace to blow moistened air around. They have to have their own blower to do that. That also means they are noisier than whole-house units. In addition, you’ll have to do a bit more maintenance. There will be a water reservoir that needs to be filled. Depending on the size of your unit and the size of the area being serviced, this could need to be done daily. Since stagnant water can breed all sorts of nasty things, it’s imperative that you keep the reservoir clean and change your humidifier filter as often as the manufacturer recommends, if not more.

While there is a lot to consider when choosing between the two options, the end result is the same. You will be much more comfortable and breathe easier all winter long.

If you're ready to purchase a Whole House Humidifier unit, we carry Aprilaire, Honeywell and GeneralAire branded units. Or, if you're interested in a Portable Room Humidifier, we carry AirCare and Honeywell units.



Why Your Water Filter is Important

by Jess 28. October 2016 12:36

No one wants to drink dirty water, right? That’s obvious enough. And fortunately for most of us in the United States, we don’t really have to worry too much about that. For the most part, we have easy access to clean water just about anywhere we go. Or at least that’s what we like to tell ourselves. Don’t get me wrong. We are very lucky. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to take a closer look at what’s coming out of the tap. Actually, looking at your water is the first step. Turbidity, or cloudiness, is a good indicator of contamination levels. But there’s plenty that can’t be seen in our tap water as well, which makes water filtration very important.

 While cases of extremely high levels of water contamination like the one in Flint, Michigan can seem isolated and far away, it is not outside the realm of possibility that you’re drinking things you can’t even begin to imagine day in and day out right where you live.

The Environmental Working Group tested water in 45 states a few years ago and compiled a National Drinking Water Database. The results were actually kind of shocking. We know that there are certain standards that our drinking water must meet with regard to levels of contamination, but what about the things no one is testing for? The EWG found 202 such chemical contaminants.

Depending on where you live, your water may contain herbicides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, waste particles, bacterial contaminants, and even heavy metals like lead and mercury. And yes, your water is being tested for lead before it leaves the treatment plant. However, after it leaves the plant, it flows through a series of pipes before it reaches you. Some of the pipes that water will travel through may be made of cement that contains asbestos. Some of the pipes may be older and made of lead. Even if the pipes that bring it to your house are new and lead free, older homes may have lead pipes. And as those pipes age, they break down and cause contamination. Did you know that lead poisoning from contaminated water is one of the larges preventable causes of poisoning in children to this day?

Okay, so what do you do about all this? Well, you know that water dispenser on the front of your fridge? Use it. Of course there are also, tap filters and filtered pitchers and even whole home filtration systems and all are good options. But the fact of the matter is a lot of us have a water filtration system right on the front of our fridge. All you have to do is regularly change your refrigerator filter and use it. Look for activated carbon in the filters you’re considering. It’s a natural substance this has a large surface area and is extremely porous, making it perfect for the task of absorbing all of the contaminants I mentioned above. So get yourself a filter and drink up!


Can Building Materials Affect Indoor Air Quality?

by Jess 9. August 2016 08:08


When you ask someone about air quality, odds are they’ll talk mainly about their outdoor environment and air pollution as it relates to that. However, the reality is that most of us are probably much more affected by indoor air quality. Indoor air quality measurements take into account both pollutants and thermal conditions that can affect the people within the building. There are tons of things that can affect indoor air quality, including cleaning products, pesticides, paints, tobacco products, appliances, office equipment, and, of course, all of the things that get tracked in from outside. But did you know that even the materials that make up the structure of your home could be reducing the quality of the air inside? It’s true.

Everything from carpet (and the adhesive it’s installed with) to plywood to insulation can pollute the air in your home. Many building materials release volatile organic compounds (or VOCs). Building materials can also create and/or harbor dust, dust mites, mold, pollen, etc. This can be a nightmare for someone with a respiratory condition like asthma. But even if you and your family don’t have chronic issues, you could still experience headaches, congestion, and eye/nose/throat/skin irritation.


Unfortunately, you can’t have a building without building materials, so what can you do to mitigate some of the risks? The answer is to ensure that your home has good ventilation. There are a few things to consider here. First, you need to maintain your HVAC system. Make sure that it is clean and running efficiently. That starts with clean filters. Regularly replacing your filters can significantly reduce the concentration of pollutants in the air inside your home.

You may also want to consider having your HVAC system professionally cleaned and serviced annually. If you don’t feel like filter changes alone are doing the job, you could look into a whole house air cleaner. These are generally incorporated right into your existing HVAC system and can remove particles as small as .003 microns from the air.


If a whole house air cleaner seems like a bit much or, perhaps, too expensive, you could also look into individual room air cleaners. These work much the same way as a whole house air cleaner, just on a smaller scale. There are many models to choose from in a wide range of prices. While they may not eliminate all pollutants, they can certainly reduce them in the rooms you spend the most time in, thereby significantly reducing the overall amount of indoor pollution you breathe in.

The truth is that virtually everything in your home is contributing to lowering the quality of the air around you. But you don’t have to be afraid to breathe. With a little research, a little maintenance, and maybe a small investment in an air cleaning system, you and your family can breathe easy.


What is Hard Water and How Do You Fix It?

by Jess 29. June 2016 10:48


Hard water is water that contains dissolved solids such as calcium and magnesium. The reason that hard water can become an issue is that it can cause scale deposits, or mineral deposits, in pipes, water heaters, on bathroom fixtures, and even on your pots and pans. Fun fact: the term “hard water” actually originally referred to the fact that it was hard to wash in. Soap doesn’t lather well in it.

Some other things you might notice if your home has hard water are:

  • Itchy / Dry Skin
  • Dingy laundry
  • Dry / unmanageable hair
  • A bad taste and / or smell
  • Cloudiness in your water

No one wants to deal with all of that, so what can you do?

Well, if you’re concerned about your home water quality, you have some options; water treatment, for one. You can actually purchase a water softener. In addition to the cost of purchasing the water softener though, there are a couple of things to consider. According to Consumer Reports, for every 1,000 gallons of water processed, you’ll consume 15-120 additional gallons of water. If nothing else, you’ll see that on your water bill. You’ll also see a bump on your electric bill, due to the cost of running the softening unit.

If all that seems like a little too much, you can try treating the symptoms rather than the problem. For instance, white vinegar can help to remove build-up on surfaces and dishes. It can also be used to descale your coffee maker or dishwasher. You can buy soaps and shampoos that are formulated for use with hard water. An occasional rinse with an apple cider vinegar solution can help to reduce the build-up of products in your hair that may still occur. Check your laundry detergent for special instructions for use with hard water. And, finally, check your water heater’s owner’s manual for instructions on flushing it.

Hard water isn’t all bad though! There is some evidence that drinking hard water can actually reduce your risk for osteoporosis because of the calcium in the water. There was also a 2004 study in Finland that suggests that the minerals in hard water may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Even if those things are true though, it is probably ultimately better to take steps to mitigate the effects that hard water has on your home. You can descale your coffee maker all day long, but there isn’t much you can do about the deposits that build up in your pipes. That is a much costlier fix further down the line.



Indoor Air Pollution: Is it Real?

by Jess 1. June 2016 09:08



Typically when we think about air pollution, we think of the air outside. We’ve heard about the various gases and particles created by cars, factories, etc., but did you know that the air inside your home could be polluted too? It’s true. The air you breathe inside your own home could actually be making you and your family sick.

 Indoor Pollutants

Some of the things thatcould be contributing to poor indoor air quality are more obvious than others. These are things like mold, smoke (both tobacco smoke and smoke from poorly vented fireplaces and cook stoves), and pesticides. Some less obvious pollutants are things like asbestos, formaldehyde, and lead that may be present in the building materials of older homes, radon (which enters from outside and can build up inside poorly ventilated homes), carbon monoxide from stoves and furnaces, common household products like cleaners, and VOCs (or volatile organic compounds.)


Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

Generally speaking the causes of indoor air pollution are lack of sufficient ventilation and proper filtration. Without those two things, pollutants like the ones mentioned above can build up and spread throughout an enclosed space like your home.


Risks of Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air quality can significantly impact your health in both the short and long term. Some symptoms like itchy eyes or throat, headaches and fatigue may affect some people immediately and can be worse if they are particularly sensitive or already ill. In the long term, exposure to indoor air pollutants can cause things as severe as heart disease and cancer. Some research suggests that the effects of some pollutants compound as exposure time increases, so it’s important to tackle the issue sooner than later.



How to Prevent Indoor Air Pollution

The first step to preventing indoor air pollution is to remove the source. This can be done through things like mold remediation, encapsulation or removal of lead and asbestos, use of low VOC products, and even simply adjusting settings on gas appliances to reduce emissions. The next step is to address ventilation issues. Typically, heating and cooling systems don’t pull outside air into your home. That means that if the air in your home is contaminated by pollutants, that air will just remain in your home and be circulated throughout unless you do something about it. This one is actually really simple. When weather permits, open your windows or doors and let fresh air in. Also, use the ventilation fans in your bathrooms and above your stove. This will allow fresh air in and polluted air out, reducing the concentration of pollutants in the air inside your home. The final step is to clean the air. One way of doing this is to invest in an air cleaner. These are small appliances that pull air in, trap contaminants, and release clean air. Another way, is just to make sure you maintain and regularly change the filters in your heating and cooling system. That simple step will reduce the spread of pollutants throughout your home and help to keep everyone inside healthier.


4 Harmful Effects of Air Pollution

by Jess 27. April 2016 10:43

Everyone has heard the term ‘air pollution’ and, if asked, I’m sure everyone could tell you that it isn’t good. But what is considered air pollution? And what exactly does it do that makes it bad? Basically, air pollution is anything that we humans put into the atmosphere that has damaging effects on the environment. Some examples are greenhouse gases, – like carbon dioxide and methane – that are created when we burn fossil fuels, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, smog and smoke. Here are some of the harmful effects that those things can have on us and the world we live in:


1. Global Warming

This, of course, is the big one that we all hear about. Climate change occurs when the greenhouse gases mentioned above absorb sunlight and radiation reflected off of the earth’s surface causing a gradual increase in temperature. That rise in temperature doesn’t really seem all that significant in the short term, but if we don’t correct the problem, the long term effects will be devastating. Perhaps even to the point of mass extinction.


2. Acid Rain

Acid rain is also caused by gases and chemicals that are released into the atmosphere. Acid rain is any precipitation that is more acidic than what is considered normal. It can have negative effects on plants and animals, which can cause problems within ecosystems and food chains. But on a more practical level, acid rain can have negative effects on our infrastructure, causing it to age and fail more quickly than it would otherwise. Not only is that an inconvenience, but it’s an expensive problem to have to fix.


3. Ozone Depletion

The ozone layer is an atmospheric layer around Earth that is largely responsible for absorbing UV radiation before it reaches us here on the earth’s surface. However, air pollution is causing damage to that protective layer and allowing more and more UV radiation through. The effect that this can have on people is a very direct one; namely, increased rates of skin cancers and even cataracts.


4. Health Problems

Air pollution’s effects can be hard to wrap your head around on a large scale, but it can also hit very close to home. According to the CDC, air pollution can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. It can exacerbate respiratory problems such as asthma in children and COPD in adults. New research, recently published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, even suggests that air pollution can contribute to increased risk of premature birth which carries with it a whole host of other potential issues.


Clearly air pollution is a major issue for all of us whether we have realized it before now or not. However, we are not doomed to suffer all of the effects forever. One major step that we can all take toward fixing our air pollution problem is reducing our carbon footprint. A few easy steps? Take mass transit or carpool when possible. Look into energy conservation within your home (improve insulation, unplug appliances not in use). Even decreasing the amount of meat we consume (livestock is a major contributor to methane pollution) can help. So do a little research and commit to some small changes that can have a major impact for all of us.



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