The air where I live is very dry in the winter time. The water where I live is extremely hard on humidifiers, and running one costs money. Here are a few ideas to help you reduce or eliminate the need for one.

Soup Yes, really. After I roast a whole chicken or turkey, I pull off the leftover meat and put it in the fridge to make a second meal. The leftover carcass goes into a stock pot with cold water, salt and herbs. I simmer it on the back burner for a couple of hours, until the carcass completely falls apart, then pour it all through a strainer to get the tiny bones out of the broth. Some of the water will evaporate off and in addition to smelling wonderful, it adds humidity to the air. Bonus: Enough broth for at least two meals.

Shower I have small children, so privacy is already out the window. Rather than exhaust all of the steam from my shower into the outdoors, in winter, I just leave the bathroom door open and let it escape into the house. Bonus: I don’t have to use electricity to run the fan, and I can hear what my girls are up to.

Dryer vent flapper. It allows you to divert the warm, moist air from the dryer vent back into the house in the wintertime, or send it outside in the summertime. I got mine at Menard’s for under $5. My dryer is located on the ground floor of my home. If it were in my basement, which does not have good air circulation, I probably wouldn’t use this device due to concerns about mold and mildew. Safety Note: This thing has a lint filter on it, just like your dryer. You need to check it every time you dry a load of laundry, just like your dryer. Otherwise, it can become a fire hazard, just like your dryer. This thing is intended for use on electric dryers only, not gas. Bonus: Did I mention that the air is both moist and warm?

Air Dry clothing. My dryer takes ever so much longer to run than the washer, which means that I tend to wander off and forget about my laundry. I have found that by alternating loads that can be air-dryed (sweaters, T-shirts, underwear, bathroom rugs) and loads that I prefer to machine dry (jeans, towels) I can get more laundry done in a day, and the added benefit is humidity. I set up folding clothes racks in my basement. I put T-shirts and the girls clothes on hangers and then hang them on the drying racks to dry. The sweaters, underwear and rugs get draped over the drying racks, or over the shower curtain rod until dry. Bonus: A bunch of clothing is already on hangers, and ready to go into closets once it’s dry. My sweaters aren’t shrunken or pilly. I can get more laundry done in a day.

Dishwasher: I realize that using a dishwasher is not the most economical way to have clean dishes. But since hand washing dishes is the most detestable chore I know of, there would not be clean dishes in this house without one. Rather than using the heated dry setting, I pop the door open and slide the racks out once the wash cycle is over. A lot of steam comes off that thing. Bonus: Uses less electricity, and shortens the wash cycle.

Hygrometer: No, a hygrometer doesn’t raise the humidity in your home. It just measures it. You need one. Too much humidity can cause mold, mildew, or other damage to your home. I have several that were included with the purchase of a humidifier over the years. You can get an analog hygrometer for as little as $3, or a digital hygrometer for $13 or more.

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