You've put off buying a humidifier because you know they can be notorious water and energy wasters, but the dry indoor air is really starting to get to you. Don't worry; there are a few options that won't waste water, and some that don't use any electricity at all.
Efficient whole-house humidifiers
Few whole-home humidifiers are known more for environmental conscience than humidifying power, but models like the Desert Spring have been noted for water savings and energy efficiency.
Many drum humidifiers reduce water use because they don't flush any water out as waste. Systems without heating elements rely on furnace air for evaporation and can be big energy savers. But, when fans are added to increase the efficiency of their water use, power consumption goes back up. It's quite often a trade-off between water efficiency and energy efficiency.
Possibly the simplest and least energy-draining way to add humidity to your home is by placing a bowl of water on a table or allowing moisture to be dispersed through regular activities, such as boiling water on the stove. But for many people, that moisture won't be enough.
Baseboard heaters can be put to good use with Eco Humidifiers. Long, thin water containers attach to the top of the heater and use the warmth to evaporate water. They are also easy on the pocketbook, costing about $15 to $30 and requiring no fancy filters or replacement parts. Other nonelectric humidifiers include models that can be placed over a floor register, near a wall unit or on a radiator. Heat blows through, and natural evaporation does the rest.
Vaporizers conserve water but not energy
Vaporizers are fairly water efficient because they boil and evaporate all of the water that's put into them. Because of the boiling, though, they're also known for sucking back electricity. If you want a vaporizer for adding medicated mist to the air, save some water and electricity by buying a waterless vaporizer.
How to make changes with one you've already got
Even if you have the most efficient humidifier possible, there's a good chance you'll be wasting water at some point. Using cooled humidifier water in house plants or the garden ensures that even the waste is put to good use.