Heated indoor air can be too dry and additional moisture is helpful. This guide is about a homemade humidifier.
The weather here in the Minneapolis, MN area has been frigid for the past two weeks, temperatures hovering around 0 and below every night. With the furnace constantly running, I noticed that my house was very dry. I didn't want to turn on a steamer, (like what you would use when the kids are sick) because that would use a lot of electricity.
I went to the dollar store and picked up a couple of plastic banana holders (the ones you can hang bananas on). I then filled a flat bottomed bowl with around 2 inches of water and inserted the holder. Then I took an old dishtowel or you could use cheesecloth or any rag, for that matter, and draped it over the holder making sure that the towel is in the water so that it will wick up the water. I poured more water on the cloth and placed the bowls in front of a couple of heat vents. When the heat cranks on, it blows across the bowl/banana holder and takes the humid air with it. It really has made a difference in my home. Of course if you have pets or small children, you want to be very careful.
By Ardelle from Richfield, MN
Ardelle, I moved to west Texas a few months ago and I've had sinus problems and colds ever since whether I run the heat or not. There is very little humidity in the air all year long here. Where are your heat vents? Mine are on the ceiling so I don't think your plan would work. I hope others will post their ideas as I am miserable.
When I was a child, I remember my grandmother putting mason jars filled with water on her floor vents during the winter months. We have ceiling vents in the upstairs of our home and floor vents in the downstairs. We have gas heat, which is very dry and tends to dry out the sinuses making one more likely to catch colds and have nose bleeds. I bought some metal mixing bowls from wal-marts and filled them with water. I set them near the heater vents upstairs on top of furniture pieces, a tall bookshelf in my son's room, a clothing wardrobe in our bedroom, a storage unit in the bathroom, and a linen wardrobe in the hall. I refill them every so often as the water evaporates. I also keep plants in my home. Their soil drys out quickly since the heat absorbs their moisture too. Downstairs, I put containers of water in unobtrusive places. We also run a humidifer in our bedroom at night, which really helps. Occasionally, I'll plug the tub when I shower and let the water set to add additional moisture to the air or leave the warm water in the tub after taking a bath (you'll have to clean the tub more often when you do this and be careful if you have small children or pets). These measures help a lot. But, your home must have good air circulation or your windows will sweat and you may develop a mold problem.
Another hint I forgot: Boiling water on the stove will work too. Get a large dutch oven and fill with water, bring to a boil, shut heat off and allow the water to evaporate. I put a pot of water on any burner after I use it, to absorb the remaining heat (electric stove) and allow the moisture to wick into the room.
I have solved that problem pretty easily, Texan. First, get a good kitchen sponge with no scrubbing side. The good ones shouldn't drip! That is the key here. Cut it so it can fit into a snack-sized ziplock bag. Then, take the snack-sized ziplock bag, fold it in half and use a hole puncher to punch holes in it. Don't worry about if they are "clean" holes are not. It won't matter. Soak the sponge so it is saturated, then squeeze the excess off. Put it into the bag, and seal. Then, tie the bag to the ceiling heaters.
The downfall I've found to this is you have to refresh the sponge a few times a day if it is really, really dry and hot. I've found that it also works with a larger bag and the big car washing sponges too. Just follow the same method above and tie more securely since they'll be heavier.
As a note, it is cheaper to use the big car washing sponges. They are about $1.80 each at Walmart. =D
During this cold winter weather, the air in our homes gets terribly dry and some people don't like the added work of keeping a humidifier machine clean. An easier way to keep moister in the home is to keep a pot of water on a low burner on the kitchen stove.