When we’re cooped up inside with the heater blasting in the winter, the air inside can become uncomfortably dry. That’s about the time the humidifier comes out.
The air definitely feels more comfortable, but will your wallet pay the price when the electricity bill comes? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wondered the same thing. A few years ago the EPA released their residential humidifier scoping report. In it the agency noted humidifiers only account for 0.11% of overall electricity use.
That’s a pretty small percentage, but keep in mind that is an average. There are a few things that affect how much electricity a humidifier uses starting with the type of humidifier you have.
Electricity Consumption of Different Types of Humidifiers
Exactly how much electricity a humidifier uses will largely depend on what type of humidifier you’re using. There are two categories of humidifiers: portable and whole house.
The vast majority of humidifiers are portable. This simply means they are small standalone units that can be moved around from room to room. You’ll enjoy more flexibility, but the tradeoff with portable humidifiers is they treat a limited space. Very rarely a portable humidifier is powerful enough to treat a small home.
Portable humidifiers have a small tank of water that will need to be replaced. They work by plugging into a 120V electric outlet.
The options break down further to three different types of portable humidifiers:
Energy Used: 44 kWh
Savings estimate for energy-efficient model: 11.8 kWh per year / $1.36 annual savings
An ultrasonic humidifier has a piezo-electric device inside that eliminates the need for heating. However, it does rely on a fan to push vapor out.
Energy Used: 80 kWh
Savings estimate for energy-efficient model: 36.2 kWh per year / $4.17 annual savings
Cool misting humidifiers are the most popular type. About half of the humidifiers in the U.S. are cool misting. This type of humidifier has an internal fan blowing water up to a diffuser that creates a mist.
Energy Used: 220 kWh
Savings estimate for energy-efficient model: 80.1 kWh per year / $9.22 annual savings
A warm misting humidifier has a heating component within the reservoir that warms the water before releasing it as a mist.
Whole House Humidifier
A whole house humidifier is a complex system that requires professional installation. The humidifier is installed in the ductwork so that up to 6,000 square feet of space can be humidified using a humidistat. One cost consideration is that the filter for the humidifier must be changed every six months.
There are three types of whole house humidifiers:
Energy Used: 0
Savings estimate for energy-efficient model: N/A
Bypass humidifiers have a pad that is sprayed with water. The airflow from the HVAC system passes over the pad adding vapor to the air. Therefore, no extra power is required to run the humidifier, but you’ll only feel the effects when the HVAC system is on.
Energy Used: 108 kWh
Savings estimate for energy-efficient model: 15.2 kWh per year / $1.75 annual savings
A reservoir of water in the humidifier is exposed to airflow from the HVAC system, but there’s also a fan in the humidifier that will create airflow if the HVAC system isn’t running.
Energy Used: 1.915 kWh
Savings estimate for energy-efficient model: 426.7 kWh per year / $49.11 annual savings
A heating element heats a reservoir of water that evaporates. The vapor is sprayed into the airflow of the HVAC system.
The Setting You Use Matters Too
The next thing that can affect humidifier energy use is the settings that you use. Most humidifiers give you various power levels. Typically there is a high, medium and low setting as well as a way to create a relative humidity setting.
Setting the humidifier to high rather than low will make the appliance work harder and use more energy. It may be best to use the relative humidity setting if you have the option. That way the humidifier only runs when it’s needed.
How Humidifiers Help You Reduce Energy Use
Now for the really good news. A humidifier can actually help reduce energy use. When the humidity is just right (30-50% relative humidity) it feels more comfortable inside a home even if you don’t touch the thermostat.
In the winter you may feel so comfortable that you keep the temperature a few degrees lower. When air is humidified it feels warmer. That’s why in the summer higher temperatures plus higher humidity can feel really uncomfortable.
Provider Power can help you keep your humidifier running year-round for a fixed rate. We’re an industry-leading electricity provider located throughout the northeast. Find available energy plans in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.