An Aprilaire whole-house humidifier gets installed. (Photos courtesy of Aprilaire.)
When most people think about low relative humidity in homes, items such as dry noses, scratchy throats, and itchy skin come to mind.

However, the problem can run much deeper than that. According to medical experts, many viruses thrive in low humidity and can increase the likelihood of getting colds, flu, and upper respiratory ailments. The American Society of Otolaryngology reports that it is important to prevent an overly dry environment because it makes people more susceptible to infection.

Dry air damage can also affect your home. When heated air isn't humidified, it can cause walls and ceilings to crack, wood floors and trim to separate, and expensive electronic equipment to fall victim to static electric charges.

"This also means that condensation is occurring inside the walls of the home, and if this happens for long periods of time, this can damage the structure of the home," said Bruce Darkow, Aprilaire product manager for humidifiers.

To help combat this problem, Darkow recommends the Aprilaire Model 8570 thermostat, which is designed to simplify the situation for a homeowner, while allowing HVAC contractors to generate additional revenues.

"Our surveys indicate that homeowners know they need humidity during the winter," Darkow said. "The opportunity is to show them that our products will best satisfy their needs."

How It Works

There are special terminals on both the thermostat and the Automatic Humidifier Control, which allows the contractor to wire them together. Usually, a humidifier only operates when the blower of the heating system runs. However, today's high-efficiency furnaces deliver more Btu's of heat and therefore have shorter "on" cycles. This, said Darkow, can lead a home to be under-humidified.

With the Aprilaire thermostat working in conjunction with the humidifier, Darkow said they together extend the heating system's blower run time, continually satisfying the humidity needs of homes. The blower run time increases from five to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, the Automatic Humidifier Control provides information to the thermostat, such as the indoor relative humidity and outdoor temperature.

"By monitoring outdoor temperatures, our system always delivers the optimum level of humidity to the home," said Darkow. "This means you always have the right amount and avoid the likelihood of condensation on the windows as outdoor temperatures change."

The Aprilaire Model 8570 thermostat includes a feature where service reminders and the dealer’s name, address, and phone number can appear on the display.

Additional Benefits

From a contractor's standpoint, in addition to the easy installation, the Model 8570 can also bring additional profits, explained Darkow.

For example, there are service reminders that tell the homeowner it's time to service the home's humidifier, air filter, UV lamp, and HVAC system. In addition, the dealer's name, address, and phone number can be programmed right into the display for easy reference by the homeowner.

For the customer, the thermostat offers all the regular features of a digital thermostat, plus it can be programmed to automatically adjust a home's temperature based on schedule and lifestyle. They can be programmed to adjust the home's temperature up to four times a day, with 5/2-day or 7-day programming, and they are available in a number of different models for many different HVAC systems. According to Aprilaire, homeowners can save as much as 18 percent on their energy bill by using this type of thermostat.

"Our products are designed to install quickly. We consider every small detail in the installation to make the process fast and easy for the contractor," said Darkow. "From the homeowner's standpoint, the humidifier is very easy to operate. That's because in the automatic mode, you set it and forget it. There are no adjustments needed."

As far as the Model 8570 thermostat, Darkow said extensive work went into the process of making programming easy. It flashes "Done" on the display when the programming steps are completed. It also incorporates a large backlit display.

Publication date: 08/15/2005