How to Banish Humidity, Protect your Health, and Save Energy with Dehumidifiers

Struggle with humidity at home? Save energy with dehumidifiers while cutting your electricity bill and protecting your health. Source: Danielle Dolson

If your home has an excessive amount of moisture in the air, it can fall prey to extensive damage that is costly to repair. Dehumidifiers present a valuable solution to many humidity-related issues, including that unwanted sweat and hair frizz! Read on to learn how you can protect your home and health and save energy with dehumidifiers.

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Ever walk into a room and struggle to take a breath because it was just that oppressive? What about a room that instantly made you feel thirsty, like you needed a tall glass of ice water?

The humidity of the air we breathe can have a major impact on our comfort and health, not to mention the condition of our homes. Very dry or very humid air can negatively impact your home, leading to rot, mold, and mildew.

If you suspect that your indoor humidity is too high, there is a simple solution: a dehumidifier. These appliances draw moisture out of the air and deposit the water into a bucket or hose that can be emptied, leaving behind drier, more pleasant air.

In addition to improving your comfort and health, you can also save energy with dehumidifiers. It requires far more energy to cool humid air than dry air, so removing moisture from the air helps your HVAC system operate more efficiently.

But how can you tell if you need a dehumidifier in your home?

Do I need a dehumidifier?

If allergy season has turned into a year-round affair, you might begin to suspect something is wrong in your home’s HVAC system. Or perhaps the scent of mildew in the basement, which you initially blame on the sump-pump, is becoming a bit too much to bear.

Surprisingly, all of these issues are linked to high humidity. The proper humidity level of the air in your home varies based on climate, season, and personal preference. Some parts of the country are naturally more humid than others. And humidity levels change from day to day and season to season. But a good rule of thumb is to aim for 30-50 percent humidity in your home. Any lower, and it may be uncomfortably dry in the house. Any higher, and you will encourage the growth of mold and potentially introduce allergens that can cause respiratory issues.

Common Signs of Excessive Indoor Humidity

  • Musty or mildew smells (a strong indicator of dampness, moisture being retained in the walls or floor)
  • Mold (fungi that can cause breathing problems and allergic reactions, especially in asthma sufferers or those with chronic conditions)
  • Increased allergy symptoms (sneezing, coughing, or other respiratory issues, often in response to presence of mold spores, whether visible or not)
  • Seepage (water running down the walls or collecting on the ceiling, water marks in the basement)
  • Condensation (moisture collecting on windows, mirrors, around doors)
  • Wood rot (wood that is wet for a long period of time and begins to disintegrate; common in floorboards, siding, under sinks, window sills)

If any of these conditions are present in your home, it is probably time to consider a dehumidifier. The investment will quickly pay off, as you will be able to prolong the life of your home, prevent damage, and eliminate health risks related to mold. Not to mention, you will be able to save energy with dehumidifiers and reduce that pesky electricity bill!

How to Pick the Right Dehumidifier for your Home

Humidity at home could be impacting more than you electricity bill. Picking the right model will help you save energy with dehumidifiers while also protecting your family's health and home's structural stability.

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a dehumidifier. In addition to selecting an energy-efficient model, you will need to ensure that the dehumidifier you choose is the appropriate type for your home. The most common errors people make are purchasing the incorrect size and type of dehumidifier, both of which decrease performance and increase financial and energy costs.

Dehumidifiers come in two basic forms: portable (room) or whole-house. Room dehumidifiers pull moisture from the air in a smaller area. And they can be moved from room to room with no problem. These dehumidifiers are ideal for small spaces such as basements or bathrooms.

Whole-home dehumidifiers are better suited for homes that are in very humid climates. They are also appropriate for homes that have mold or rot and require a more permanent solution. They are also useful in homes where the walls seep, or where humidity throughout the home is greater than 70 percent. Whole-home humidifiers typically require installation by professionals.

EPA Buying Guide for dehumidifiers

Before you go shopping for your dehumidifier, check out WDIU purchase guidance as well as our recommendations below. The ENERGY STAR specification for air purifiers measures the liters of water removed per kilowatt-hour to determine energy efficiency. Selecting an ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifier ensures you are choosing an energy-efficient option to save money and save energy with dehumidifiers over their lifetimes.

The EPA also offers advice to select a top-performing energy-efficient dehumidifier:

●  Pick a dehumidifier with the appropriate capacity for your space. It is common to measure dehumidifier capacity in “pints per 24 hours.” This term refers to how much moisture the machine can draw out of the air in that time period. The square footage of the room along with the humidity level of the space will help you determine the necessary capacity of the dehumidifier.

ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifiers will enable you to save energy and money while eliminating humidity from your home.

●  Consider the water removal method. Portable dehumidifiers often have buckets that fill with water as the dehumidifier is in operation. You need to empty the bucket periodically to keep the humidifier running. So you’ll want to make sure you can empty it regularly. Some portable dehumidifiers also come with hoses, or hose fittings, that can be routed to drains. This eliminates the need for continual emptying.

●  Pay attention to the operating temperature. Based on the U.S. EPA Buying Guide, dehumidifiers can be operated at temperatures as low as 42℉. However, at temperatures below 65℉, the efficiency of some dehumidifiers may suffer. This is because the air compressor cycles repeatedly. So if it’s running on high at a low temperature, you may need to shut it off to allow it to defrost. Thankfully, some units feature anti-frost sensors to address this issue.

WDIU’s Top picks from WDIU: The best energy-efficient humidifiers

Soleus Air offers the best all-around model if you're seeking a high-performance option to reduce humidity and also save energy with dehumidifers.

The following dehumidifiers are among the most energy-efficient portable dehumidifier units available. If the dehumidifier you’re considering isn’t listed here, check the WattDoesItUse Dehumidifier Power Consumption Calculator. There, you will find all the information you need regarding that device’s efficiency and power consumption!

Best All-Around: Soleus Air 35-Pint Dehumidifier

This dehumidifier packs plenty of features into a sleek, portable unit. With pre-programmed settings for basement, sleeping spaces, and living spaces, you won’t need to worry about using the wrong setting for a given room. The drainage connection can be attached to a normal garden hose, eliminating the necessity for purchasing additional components. The child lock, auto-defrost, and 24-hour shutoff timer features complete the efficient package this dehumidifier offers. It’s a perfect option for any home in any climate!

The Friedrich D50B1A is the best high-end model if you're seeking a high-performance option to reduce humidity and also save energy with dehumidifers.

Top of the Line: Friedrich D50B1A 50 Pint Dehumidifier

The automatic humidity control and internal pump set this dehumidifier apart from the rest. Capable of dehumidifying spaces of up to 1,200 sq. ft, the model is a wonderful solution for larger spaces such as basements that have serious humidity issues. The automatic control allows you to set your desired humidity level in five percent increments. And it maintains the humidity level without any effort on your part.

The 17-foot drain hose allows for easy emptying, and the system is equipped with automatic defrost. The energy-saving benefits are enhanced by a 24-hour shutoff timer, which prevents the machine from running outside of the time you set. Though the price tag is a bit heftier than some dehumidifiers, the long-term cost and energy savings make this model worth every penny.

Best Quiet Option: Emerson Quiet Kool Dehumidifier

If you are looking for a capable dehumidifier that won’t make a racket, the Emerson Quiet Kool is a wonderful option. With auto-defrost and low-temperature operation capabilities, this dehumidifier is versatile enough to be used in any indoor space during any season. It also features preset modes for basements and bedrooms. So you don’t need to worry about programming. The built-in child safety lock makes this a great option for families as well.

How to Optimize Dehumidifier Efficiency

Purchasing an ENERGY STAR certified appliance is one great way to ensure that your dehumidifier is energy-efficient. But if you really want to maximize your cost and energy savings, there are a few ways to optimize your dehumidifier’s performance, regardless of the model you have. Use the following guidelines to keep your dehumidifier functioning as efficiently as possible.

Get Your Set Up Right

Make sure you’ve optimized your  dehumidifier set-up:

  • Placement. If your dehumidifier does not have a top-mounted discharge, move it away from walls and furniture that will prevent air circulation.
  • Location. Keep the dehumidifier away from sources of dust and dirt that will clog it.
  • Environment. Close doors and windows in the space where you are running the dehumidifier. This allows you to efficiently dehumidify the space without introducing new air that contains more moisture.

Reduce Your Dehumidifier’s Workload

Another great way to optimize the dehumidifier’s operation is to reduce its workload upfront. You can prepare the air for your dehumidifer with a few easy steps:

  • Target humid areas. Locations in the home such as kitchens and bathrooms that are naturally more humid are great places to install vent fans, which can immediately reduce the humidity in the air.
  • Repair leaks. Leaking faucets, both indoors and outdoors, spell trouble. Repairing leaks can reduce the amount of moisture in the home, thereby reducing your humidity (while saving money on your water bill!)
  • Address dyer ventilation. Is your dryer vent properly installed to allow airflow to the outdoors? If not, you could be re-routing that air into your home and increasing its humidity. Check your dryer vent occasionally to ensure that nothing has shifted or blocked the vent.

Prevent Home Damage and Health Issues, and Save Energy with Dehumidifiers

Of course, saving money and energy are major priorities for all homeowners and renters. And you can save energy with dehumidifiers while cutting that electricity bill. But even more importantly, using a dehumidifier to remove moisture from damp rooms and mildewy basements will have lasting effects for you and your family. It will prevent wood rot and mold infestations. And it will enable you to mitigate health hazards like mold spores. Comfort? Check! Health and safety? Check! It’s a win, win, win.

Looking for other ways to improve your home’s air quality? WattDoesItUse has all of the pertinent information to help inform your buying decisions, save money on your electric bill, and reduce your energy consumption. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog and stay up-to-date on all things energy!

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