Want to avoid encouraging flu bugs to flourish? Keep a bit of moisture in the household air.
Flu season peaks in cold weather, when people tend to spend more time indoors. Many homes, offices and other buildings in the United States are warmed with a dry heat source.
However, the viruses that cause the flu survive better when the humidity is close to 100% or below 50%, according to research published in the Plos One online journal. Which means that raising the humidity to more than 50% can help fight the flu.
There are several options for producing just the right levels of household moisture needed to make flu bugs feel unwelcome. Many homeowners like the moist air produced by a steam boiler, but it can cost $2,500-$5,000 or more to install a standard unit and $6,000-$9,000 or more for a high-efficiency boiler.
An alternative is a whole house humidifier; installation typically costs $200-$1,050 for a standard central unit, or $600-$1,600 or more for the more precise control offered by a central steam humidifier.
Portable humidifiers start at $20-$50 for a personal or travel humidifier, and it can cost $40-$200 or more for a tabletop or rolling console model that can add needed moisture to one or several rooms.
And for the lowest-cost option, consider using a saline nasal spray (about $4-$9), to keep your nasal passages clean and moist.