Colder weather brings drier air, which can cause chapped lips, itchy skin, even nose bleeds. A humidifier might help, but, there are lots of choices. Consumer Reports' exclusive humidifier ratings can help.
Consumer Reports just tested more than 30 humidifiers. There are three main types: evaporative-style, which draws air through a wet wick filter; ultrasonic which releases a fine mist into the air; and vaporizer types which emit steam.
Testers measure moisture output.
"When the winter comes, you put your heating system on, the air dries out, you want to know how much humidity you can put back into the room," said John Galeotafiore, Consumer Reports.
Testers also look at features, noise levels and how easy a humidifier is to clean.
Consumer Reports tests found bacteria can grow in every type of humidifier, but some are better than others at keeping it out of the air.
"We found that evaporative-type humidifiers are less likely to put that bacteria back into the air. It may grow in the tank, but it's not going to come out," said Galeotafiore.
Consumer Reports says This Well at Walgreen's brand evaporative humidifier is a good choice for a medium-sized room and costs just $32. But keep in mind, evaporative humidifiers are noisier because of the fan. If you'd prefer a quieter humidifier, consider an ultrasonic. This CVS Brand is top-rated for a small room and costs just $30.
No matter which type of humidifier you choose, the safest approach is to empty, rinse, and dry it out every day. And once per week follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to disinfect the tank.
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(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)