Humidifiers use a lot of electricity

Humidifiers on the heater: what are they really good for?

They should help against dry air at home and in the office: humidifiers for heating. But the practical climate improvers also have disadvantages - especially for health. But there are alternatives.

In dry air, the eyes water, the risk of infection increases and it is difficult to concentrate: not only for people is too low a humidity level harmful. Wooden floors and furniture are prone to cracking and warping faster if there is not enough moisture in the air.

But in winter it is difficult to create an optimal indoor climate in heated rooms. Even ventilation is often useless because the cold outside air can hardly bind moisture.

Which air humidity in rooms is optimal?

A humidity between 40 and 60 percent is recommended in heated rooms. So if the value sinks permanently below 30 percent, you should act. On the other hand, too much humidity in the air can promote mold, bacteria and mites.

How do you measure the humidity?

Most commercially available weather stations show not only the room and outside temperature but also the relative humidity. Hygrometers, which only determine the humidity, can be had for less than ten euros.

How does a humidifier for heating work?

If the humidity in the room is permanently too low, a so-called air humidifier can help. This is a small vessel that is filled with water and hung on the heater. But there are also models that can be placed on the radiator. The water evaporates due to the heat given off by the heater - the humidity in the room increases.

Air humidifier on the heater: The ceramic container, open at the top, can be filled with drinking water. (Source: imago / STPP)

Air humidifier on the heater: what are its advantages?

There are several advantages to buying a humidifier. These are the three main advantages:

  • Very easy handling
    The vessel is simply hung between the ribs of a radiator. You can fill the humidifier with a watering can. Cleaning is also easy: hang out, wash out with warm water, dry off, hang up again.
  • Cheap purchase
    A humidifier for heating does not consume any electricity. The devices can also be bought cheaply in stores.
  • Big variety
    The practical humidifiers are available in different shapes and colors as well as in different materials, for example made of ceramic, clay, glass or stainless steel.

Humidifier for heating: what are the disadvantages?

But as easy as the humidifier is to use - the devices unfortunately also have some disadvantages:

  • Too small
    The performance, i.e. the evaporation, is not particularly high with smaller humidifiers. Therefore, these models are usually not sufficient in larger rooms. Tip: Here you should hang either several small or a few larger humidifiers on the radiator.
  • Constant refilling
    In the case of air humidifiers for heating, you must always think about topping up with water. Of course, if the devices are empty, they don't do anything for a better indoor climate.
  • Dangerous germs
    It is important to clean the humidifiers regularly. The warm water is an ideal breeding ground for germs - bacteria and fungal spores are released into the room air. This can lead to health problems - especially with allergy sufferers.

Full drying rack: it briefly increases the humidity in the apartment. (Source: Schöning / imago images)

How can air humidity be increased alternatively?

A dry room climate can also be managed without a humidifier: for example, by slightly lowering the room temperature, which increases the relative humidity in the room. Drying laundry indoors can also cause the humidity to rise briefly.

Or you can simply place a flat bowl filled with water on the heater. The evaporator bowls have the same effect as a special humidifier on the radiator, but also offer a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.

Increase humidity naturally: what are the benefits of indoor plants?

If you want to humidify the air in a natural way, you can also put the right indoor plants in your home or office. They also filter pollutants such as from the air

  • formaldehyde
  • benzene
  • Trichlorethylene

They give up around 98 percent of the water that plants ingest back into their surroundings. As a result, even three larger plants increase the humidity in a 30 square meter room to the ideal value of 40 to 60 percent. This is pointed out by the Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (Federation).

Cyprus grass (Cyperus alternifolius): The decorative leaves are a real eye-catcher. (Source: Manfred Rucksackzio / imago images)

The Cyprus grass (Cyperus alternifolius) emits a particularly large amount of moisture: a 1.50 meter tall plant can evaporate up to two liters of water per day. Plants with large leaves such as room linden (Sparmannia africana) and nest fern (Asplenium) are also considered good humidifiers. The rather delicate green lily (Chlorophytum comosum) is also well suited to increase the humidity in the apartment.

Evaporator, vaporizer, nebulizer: what's the difference?

There are also other ways of improving the indoor climate or regulating the humidity. The best known are vaporizers, vaporizers, and nebulizers.

Although all three work on an electricity basis, they work differently:

  • Evaporator
    They release moisture into the room air via lamellae or special filter mats. This allows the water to evaporate over a large area. One advantage is that the devices consume comparatively little energy and you do not have to worry about overhumidification. But it takes some time for the humidity to increase noticeably. Stiftung Warentest also found out that evaporators hardly blown bacteria or mold into the air and are easy to use. The devices should still be cleaned regularly. This prevents germs from forming.
  • Evaporator
    You can heat the water either according to the immersion heater principle or using electrodes until it evaporates. This sterilizes the water, which is why vaporizers are considered hygienic. However, this requires a lot of energy. According to Stiftung Warentest, vaporizers require around 20 times as much electricity as vaporizers. With these devices, it is important that the output is regulated automatically, otherwise there is a risk of overhumidification. In addition, you should be careful with some vaporizers so as not to scald yourself from the hot steam that is emitted.
  • Nebulizer
    They atomize the water into very small droplets without heating the water. Germs get into the air with the cold mist. According to Stiftung Warentest, the devices can cause health problems - especially for allergy sufferers.

These and other mobile air purifiers can also prevent the coronavirus in poorly ventilated rooms, experts say. But the effect of such devices is controversial.

Humidity meter: A humidity of 50 percent is optimal. (Source: imago / blickwinkel)

With a mix of indoor plants, evaporator bowls and sensible heating and ventilation behavior, you can achieve sufficient humidity in most apartments - without having to resort to humidifiers. Those who prefer the more convenient solution using electric humidifiers should choose the device wisely. Particular attention should be paid to susceptibility to germs and energy consumption.

more on the subject

  • Subjects:
  • Set up,
  • Heater,
  • Household tips houseplants,
  • Flat,
  • Air,
  • Dehumidifier,
  • Air cleaner,
  • Houseplants,
  • Radiator,
  • Germs,
  • Bacteria,
  • Mites,
  • Mold