We’re getting into peak heating season — the prime time of the year for humidifier sales.

How and why you sell humidifiers is really just a number of questions all rolled into one:

• What is the driest place on Earth?

• Why do you get sick more often in the winter than you do the rest of the year?

• How does the body regulate its temperature?

• What’s the lowest-cost way to reduce your heating bills?

• Why do floors creak, wooden furniture fall apart, and wallpaper and curtains wear out, when no one even touches them?

Let's take a look at each of these questions.

What Is the Driest Place on Earth?

The relative humidity of Death Valley, California, is 25%. The relative humidity of the Sahara Desert is 23%. The relative humidity of a home in the United States on a 10F day, with the forced-air furnace blowing, can be in the single digits!

Why do you get sick more often in the winter than you do the rest of the year?

Is it because there are more germs? No! There are fewer germs in the winter than during any other season! There are three ways to kill germs: chemicals, heat, and cold. When the temperature outside is below freezing, the germs outside have been killed by the cold.

When you breathe in, your first line of defense are the little hairs in your nose; the cilia. Your sinus cavities are protected by the mucous membrane, which constantly secretes mucus. When you inhale airborne contaminants, they stick to this mucus, which drains into your stomach, where they are killed chemically by stomach acid.

When you enter an environment with a low relative humidity, the moisture is sucked from your body, and it starts with the wettest parts of your body first: your sinuses, your throat, your eyes, and your skin, which is also constantly secreting moisture in the form of perspiration.

Your mucous membranes are paper-thin, very fragile, and crack easily when they are dried out. When they crack, they open a direct channel into the blood stream.

In the winter, when you blow your nose and see blood in the handkerchief, you must get some moisture to your mucous membranes immediately, because if you inhale a cold germ or flu virus, it has a direct channel into your bloodstream.  I do this by carrying a bottle of commercially produced sterile saline solution, which I find in drug stores in the same area as the medicated nose sprays.

Your throat is also lined with mucous membrane. Have you ever said, “I’ve got that feeling in the back of my throat that I get when I’ve got a cold coming on”?  That’s a dry spot in your throat, which means you’ve got a crack in your throat’s mucous membrane, and yes, you’re in serious danger of being infected with a cold germ, flu virus, or worse. The immediate solution is start gargling with salt water a few times per hour for the rest of the day and to spray sterile saline solution into your nose.

The way to prevent this from happening is to keep the humidity at the proper level at all times. That’s best done with a central humidifier.

How Does the Body Regulate Its Temperature?

Your body is a furnace that is constantly generating heat. It regulates the temperature by constantly secreting moisture in the form of perspiration, which evaporates. When any substance goes from the liquid state to the gaseous state, it absorbs heat. This means that, as the perspiration evaporates, it absorbs heat from your skin. The drier the air, the more rapid the rate of evaporation, and the quicker your body cools.

When it’s cold outside and you have the forced-air heat running and feel a little chilly, you turn the heat up, which dries the indoor air all the more, causing your body to kick into a higher “cooling mode.”

The higher you turn up the heat, the drier the air becomes, the more your body evaporates moisture, and the cooler you feel.

What’s the Lowest-cost Way to Reduce Your Heating Bills?

When you’re feeling chilly, check the indoor humidity level before raising your thermostat setting. Raise the humidity level and you’ll feel more comfortable without increasing the heat.

At 70F, for every 10% you increase the indoor relative humidity, you increase the “apparent temperature” approximately 1F.

For every 1F that you reduce your thermostat setting, you save approximately 5% on your energy consumption.

This means that consumers can save 20 to 30% or more on their heating costs on the coldest days and nights of the winter, while being more comfortable and healthier.

Why do floors creak, wooden furniture fall apart, and wallpaper and curtains wear out, when no one even touches them?

Answer: They dry out.

The low-cost solution: Proper humidification.

Your Obligation and Duty

You have an obligation and a duty to recommend a central humidifier to everyone you see with a forced air furnace and:

• Wooden floors

• Wooden, leather, or laminated furniture or counter tops

• A piano or other wooden musical instruments

• Hanging tapestries or expensive rugs

• Sinus problems

• High heating bills

• Comfort complaints

• Expensive electronics. (Dry air causes the static electricity shocks that we all experience over the winter. It’s not a myth that some people lose the hard drive on their computers from static charge. Humidifiers reduce the likelihood of that occurring.)

Some Simple Sales Tips

Put at least one humidifier on every service vehicle and load one on every installation vehicle for every installation. It wouldn’t hurt for your salespeople to carry one in your vehicle as you make sales calls as well.

The point is not to talk about humidifiers. Show them. You have a much better chance of selling a humidifier when you take it out of the box, bring it inside and put it in their hands.

Learn to ask leading questions that bear on a need, such as:

• Are you concerned about the dry winter air drying out the wood and glue in your piano and damaging it?

• If there were a way to lower your heating costs without buying a new furnace, would you want to know more about it?

• If there were a way that you could feel more comfortable in the winter without buying a new furnace, would you want to know more about it?

Charlie Greer is the creator of “Tec Daddy’s Service Technician Survival School on DVD,” and “Slacker’s Guide to HVAC Sales.” Both of these products go into detail on selling humidifiers and other system enhancements. For complete details on these and other Charlie Greer products, services, seminars and his speaking schedule, call 800/963-HVAC (4822), go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com, or email charlie@charliegreer.com.