Your family’s well-being is your top priority, and that should include making conscious decisions about improving your home’s environment.

Dry indoor air is one of the most common household problems, but it’s also one of the easiest to fix. How do you know if the humidifier you’re about to buy is the best for your family and the most efficient?

This shopping guide will show you how to tell if you need to buy a humidifier, what’s the best humidifier for your household, and what to look for before committing to a model.

What’s the Ideal Humidity Level?

Healthy humidity levels are between 30 and 50 percent. They vary depending on the season, being lower in the winter and higher in the summer. You can measure your home’s humidity level with the help of a hygrometer, a device that measures moisture in the air. It resembles a thermometer and can be purchased in a hardware store.

It’s normal for most homes to have drier air during the winter, but some families experience this all year long.

How Can You Tell If You Need a Humidifier?

Dry skin, nose and throat irritation, an increase of allergic reactions, and less resistance to viruses are the most common signs that you need to improve humidity levels in your home.

Buying a humidifier is not a splurge. For many families it’s a necessity, whether you use it nonstop for 12 months or simply turn it on during the colder months.

What’s the Best Humidifier for Your Family?

The most popular humidifiers are warm mist, cool mist, and ultrasonic. They all have the same effect, so when it comes to getting the job done, there are no significant differences between the three types.

Warm mist humidifiers release steam, increase room temperature, and kill bacteria, viruses, and mold spores. However, they are less energy efficient and present a higher safety hazard for children.

Cool mist and ultrasonic humidifiers both produce cold fog. While both models use less energy than a warm mist humidifier, the ultrasonic one is quieter because it spreads mist through sound waves instead of fans.

What Should You Know Before Buying a Humidifier?

A good humidifier is easy to refill, handle, and maintain; has an automatic safety shut-off; and enables you to measure humidity levels through a built-in hygrometer.

Choosing the right size depends on how much area you need to cover. For personal use, a compact model is enough. If you only need a humidifier in a bedroom or the living room, it’s best to invest in a portable room-size unit.

To cover the whole house, consider investing in a free-standing humidifier that you can move around or hiring an HVAC professional to install a unit connected to your home’s ventilation ducts.

As you can see, there are many options and combinations to choose from. Following these quick tips will enable you to choose the most efficient humidifier model, understand your home’s needs in maintaining optimal relative humidity levels, and tell the difference between a good purchase and a bad investment.