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ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Do you have any tricks to battle dry air in the winter?

Asked by ItalianPrincess1217 (11979points) November 25th, 2013 from iPhone

My apartment is unbearable. The landlord controls the heat and now that it’s cold outside our thermostat reads around 78 on average. I have radiant heat and the air has become very dry. My throat is scratchy, my nose is dry, my eyes constantly water and burn. I have several humidifiers but I only notice a slight difference. Do you have any tricks or tips to putting some moisture into the air?

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26 Answers

glacial's avatar

When you say that you have “radiant heat”, do you mean radiators? Usually, this will not dry out the air as much as, say, electricity. What you can do to help (other than get a humidifier) is dry your laundry on the radiators, or if you prefer machine-dried laundry, wet a towel and put that over a radiator when it’s hot.

gailcalled's avatar

Can you leave a pot of water or a filled tea kettle on a very, very low simmer on stovetop while you are home (and paying attention)? The steam will help at least in the vicinity.

pleiades's avatar

Also could be the dust kicking up or around the place (scratchy throat) try vacuuming for a long time. We had to do that when we first moved into our apt. Over two weeks we collected at least 3 solid bags worth of dust.

pleiades's avatar

Or take @gailcalled ‘s advice and buy a humidifier ( I wonder if that’d help )

Coloma's avatar

^^^ She said she has several humidifiers and they barely make a difference.

@ItalianPrincess1217 I have the same issues, very dry here, too warm in this house I share. The person I live with keeps the heat over 70 and it is too damn hot!
One thing I do is use Tiger Balm in my nostrils. Keep it in the shower and breathe it with the hot steam. It helps and a dab in your nostrils keeps them moist and the zing of the ingredients keeps your sinuses open.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@glacial Yes, we have radiators.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@Coloma Thank you! I will definitely try that.

Judi's avatar

You could use an electric atomizer that accepts essential oils. I won’t link one here because I sell essential oils (sort of, I haven’t really made many sells) but I don’t want to spam. If you want me to message you a link just PM me and I will send it to you.

LuckyGuy's avatar

If you have hot water radiators that you cannot control you can put some aluminum foil underneath a part of it to restrict air flow. That will reduce the heat into your apartment. and will affect the humidity tremendously. Warm hair holds much more moisture than cold. That is why you get condensation on the windows. Block the radiators so you can get the tempt to 68 and you will feel much more comfortable.
I have hot water baseboard heat that does not get used very often nor does it get extremely hot so I close off the heat to unused rooms by shoving some rags, (actually old towels) under the radiator.

glacial's avatar

^^^ Says the guy who knows everything about heat transfer. Try his advice!

LuckyGuy's avatar

^^ Thanks! As a further example of my nerdiness, I just ran some numbers for you.
Letting air cool from 78 F down to 68 F will increase the relative humidity by almost 50%. That means if your air is 30% RH at 78F (very dry and uncomfortable), it will be almost 44% RH (nice) if it is allowed to cool. Reference

Block off your radiator.

LornaLove's avatar

I’m suffering with the same thing and I have found a nasal salt water wash quite helpful.

Smitha's avatar

Here are some options

Place a pot of water on your radiator, wood stove, register or baseboard heater. As the heater heats up, the water will evaporate into the air, adding moisture to your home.

Dry your laundry indoors, without using the dryer. Hang towels and other linens over doorways or on the back of chairs, or purchase an indoor clothes drying rack.

Add some houseplants to your home. Not only will you be moisture to the air simply by watering the plants, but plants naturally add moisture to the air all by themselves

Cook with the lids off. When you’re boiling water or vegetables, leave the lids off so that the excess moisture can infiltrate the air.

Leave a pot of water on top of the stove when you have something in the oven. The top of the stove naturally heats up slightly when you are baking, which will help the water in the pot evaporate.

Take your shower with the bathroom door open. Not only will this help humidify your home, it will help prevent mildew in the bathroom.

Get some fish. A fish tank with the lid partially open will also increase the air’s moisture content.

Buy an indoor fountain. Not only will the sound of the water help you relax, the humidity will keep you skin and membranes moist.

RocketGuy's avatar

At work, we mop the floors to get humidity up.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Thanks. The best way is to control the temp. The other ideas (e.g. put a pan of water out) are like spitting into the ocean. If your apartment is 1000 sq ft ~100 sq m and is about 2 meters tall the air at 50% RH at 68 F will hold about half a gallon of water. (Comfortable). Your air at 78 F will hold about 0.75 gallons so that same amount of water in the air will only bring you to 33% Relative humidity A typical house has 8 air exchanges per hour. so if you want 50% RH at high temp you would need to add in about 2 gallons PER HOUR!
Reduce the heat any way you can. That will make the biggest difference. And save energy too.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I have an electric dryer in my basement. When my wood stove is working I vent the dryer directly into the basement. I get all the humidity, and the nice aroma of clean laundry – and I save the water vapor and heat and don’t draw in the freezing cold dry air from outdoors.
Not everyone can do this.

RocketGuy's avatar

@LuckyGuy – you use old pantyhose as a lint filter when you vent into the house?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@RocketGuy Yes. I have it stretched out a bit and have it resting on the 4 inch PVC drain line that goes to my septic tank. The toe is attached to one of the pipe hangers.
It is totally out of the way and does not look something from a Garrison Keillor bachelor farmer’s house.

When the stocking is full it goes into the wood burner and is converted to BTUs.

While the . I burn the

glacial's avatar

@RocketGuy I think the fumes got him!

LuckyGuy's avatar

Arrrgh!!! Fresh air!!! Actually it was left over words that were below the window. I didn’t see them after I sent. That will bother me forever.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

The ideas of leaving the bathroom door open after the shower won’t work for the way this house is setup. It’s not a very open floor plan. The bathroom is all the way in the back of the house. The hottest, most dry room is the living room, which happens to be completely opposite of the bathroom.
@LuckyGuy You mentioned trying to block off the heat. Would that work for radiators? They look like this.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 Yes those are easy to shut off or throttle back. You can do it a couple of ways. See that knob on the right? You can turn it clockwise a half a turn at a time and see it that works. If you can’t move it (or you are reluctant) the safest and easiest method is to fold an old cotton bath towel and shove it under the radiator so air can’t flow up from the floor as easily. I suppose a purist might put a layer of aluminum foil over the towel where it touches the radiator you really don’t need it. The radiator does not get that hot.
You might even try draping a towel over the radiator if you want to cut it back even more. You can put a flat cookie sheet on the top too.
Don’t try everything at once. Take baby steps. I’d do the towel underneath first. That will still give you some heat and it can be reversed instantly.

By the way, if you showered with the exhaust fan off and the door open the moisture would still get into the remainder of the house – even the rooms on the other side. Water molecules move pretty fast. If you spray perfume in the bathroom you can smell it in the living room in a minute or so. Right? Water molecules move even faster. They will equalize the rooms in a few minutes. Give it a shot.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@LuckyGuy Great! Thanks again for the helpful tips. I will definitely try your advice! I would have never thought of doing these things on my own.

LuckyGuy's avatar

i hope you have already implemented some. There is no reason to wait. It only takes a second to drape a towel over the radiator or show one under it. Right?

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@LuckyGuy Of course! That’s the first thing I did. I haven’t been home much lately to feel the effects of it but if it’s still too warm, I will go down the list you gave me.

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