Both groups of humidifiers will help increasing room humidity but waste energy and/or water at the same time; some significantly, others considerably less.
However, if used properly, good quality whole house humidifiers will make you feel warmer in colder months, thus allowing you to lower the thermostat temperature settings, and saving energy while still feeling comfortable in your home with slightly increased room humidity.
I did some research a couple of years ago and decided to install in my home the Rotary Disc Furnace Mount Humidifier by Desert Spring. It is very effective in increasing room humidity and extremely energy efficient. However, it took me two years to come to this conclusion, after the first year I was slightly disappointed but during its second year rotary disc humidifier performed perfectly well (my first impression – rotary disc humidifier review ).
Second on my best humidifiers list would be the Honeywell TrueSteam™ model. It’s much more expensive, with more complicated design than the one by Desert Spring, but based on the opinion from my friend who’s been using and monitoring it during the last two cold seasons it is a great performer.
Honeywell TrueSteam™ might be also a great solution for those with limited space and access to air ducts since the unit doesn’t require installing on / attaching to a furnace or an air duct.
Most of the portable type humidifiers will not be capable of increasing humidity of the entire area of your home to the point where you can lower the thermostat setting by a couple of degrees and still be comfortable.
However, there are a few large portable humidifier units, which can be placed strategically in your house and work not only on single room humidity. Placing them close to the air return port will increase their efficiency.
If you decide to work only on a single room humidity levels with a small humidifying unit, there won’t be any noticeable energy savings. However, if you use it in your bedroom, it will help you breathe easier during the cold and dry months.
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This article was written by Dariusz Rudnicki
I'm a retired Illinois home inspector, founder and editor of checkthishouse.com, a blog which attracts around 2 thousand readers daily and is dedicated to answering the many questions of home owners and home buyers. Connect with me on Google+ Find me on Google+ Local