Knowing how to maintain your ideal home humidity is important for both your health and your living space. Too much humidity in your house can result in mold, wood rot and aggravated allergy and asthma symptoms. Dehumidifiers combat these problems by controlling house humidity, but older models consume significant amounts of energy and are susceptible to leaks and mold accumulation.
Professionals can examine homes with high humidity and excess dampness to identify potential problems, and the benefits of energy-efficient dehumidifiers can help you maintain your home’s humidity levels without inflating your energy bill.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, ideal home humidity should be kept between 30 and 50 percent for health, comfort and the prevention of mold and bacterial growth.
This level of humidity should be maintained during the summer and winter, with or without the use of an air conditioner. In cold climates, keeping house humidity at 30 percent helps prevent condensation on windows.
Relative humidity, or RH, describes the amount of water vapor in the air in comparison to the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold.
RH changes with temperature, and anything higher than 50 percent RH encourages bacterial and mold growth. A dehumidifier with a built-in humidistat allows you to set the relative humidity for a room.
You can determine whether you have too much humidity in your house by using a hygrometer, a gauge used to measure humidity levels. A number of observable signs may also indicate a humidity problem. Potential signs include:
The benefits of using a dehumidifier outweigh the costs—as long as the dehumidifier conserves energy. With an energy-efficient dehumidifier, you’ll see several benefits:
Choosing the right dehumidifier for your home requires an understanding of the different types of dehumidifier, dehumidifier energy consumption, ENERGY STAR®️ certifications, dehumidifier sizing and house humidity level.
When deciding on the best energy-efficient dehumidifier, you should pick a dehumidifier type based upon your home humidity levels, the location in your home, and the climate of where you live. There are several types of dehumidifiers to choose from.
Compressor dehumidifiers work by passing warm, damp air over a refrigerated coil, causing condensation, which is then channeled into a tank for removal. The dry air is heated to room temperature and then released.
Compressor dehumidifiers work best in warmer climates, as the condenser must be cooler than room temperature. They’re less suited to cold climates and can be bulky and noisy, so it’s important to consider their placement in your home.
If you need to control basement humidity, a desiccant dehumidifier is a good choice. Desiccant dehumidifiers use a desiccant wheel to remove moisture, rather like the way silica gel keeps food items moisture-free. A built-in heater restores the wheel’s ability to absorb moisture.
Though they are portable and more energy efficient than compression dehumidifiers, desiccant dehumidifiers are more expensive and are not as effective in warm climates.
Thermoelectric dehumidifiers use a solid-state thermoelectric device to pump heat from one side of the dehumidifier condenser to another, cooling the opposite side. Air is drawn over the cold side, causing condensation, which is then stored in a removable tank. Thermoelectric dehumidifiers have few moving parts and maintain long life spans.
Since thermoelectric dehumidifiers aren’t designed to remove as much moisture as compressors or desiccants, they’re best suited for small spaces such as closets and bathrooms. For this reason, a thermoelectric dehumidifier is probably not your best option for controlling basement humidity.
To reap the benefits of using a dehumidifier, you’ll need to select the right model for your home. Dehumidifier features vary from model to model. While energy efficiency is important, homeowners should also look for features that allow you to control humidity levels and perform easy maintenance.
Consider the following when looking for dehumidifiers:
Pro Tip: When looking at your dehumidifier, be sure to check the operating temperature range. Selecting a energy-efficient dehumidifier that fits the temperature range of the room you’re dehumidifying will ensure that your machine runs correctly and efficiently.
As most dehumidifiers store condensed water in a tank for removal, it’s important to determine the correct capacity for your needs. Too small, and you’ll be emptying the tank too often, while dehumidifiers that are too large for the space they occupy or too powerful for the relative humidity will consume more energy than you need to use.
Tank capacity is measured in pints removed by the dehumidifier. Room size is calculated in square feet. The relative humidity of the room is also a factor when considering dehumidifier sizing, and it affects the amount of moisture the unit needs to remove from the air to attain the ideal humidity for your home.
Large-capacity dehumidifiers can remove more than 50 pints of water a day. While rooms of up to 1,500 square feet are well suited to a large-capacity dehumidifier, room size is only one factor. Any space with excessively high humidity can benefit from large models, although they’re most often used for basements, garages and large rooms.
Check out the Frigidaire 70 Pint Dehumidifier in the Constellation store.
Medium-capacity dehumidifiers can remove about 50 pints of moisture a day. They are most often used for wet bathrooms as well as large bedrooms and living rooms.
Check out the Frigidaire 50 Pint Dehumidifier in the Constellation store.
Small-capacity dehumidifiers can remove between 30 and 35 pints a day and are best used in small spaces such as single rooms, closets and crawl spaces.
Check out the Frigidaire 30 Pint Dehumidifier in the Constellation store.
Whole-house-capacity dehumidifiers are just that—they can control humidity throughout the entire home. The cost of such units is high, however, and in most cases, they aren’t essential. Stand-alone dehumidifiers are sufficient to meet most residential needs.
According to the University of Berkeley, dehumidifier size and capacity can affect energy use. Depending on the size and capacity of the dehumidifier, watts usage can range from 300W – 750W.
Dehumidifier watts are important to know when calculating the energy factor of your machine. The energy factor of a dehumidifier is measured in liters of water removed per kilowatt-hour, and changes depending upon the capacity of the dehumidifier.
In order to be approved by ENERGY STAR®️, energy-efficient dehumidifiers must have an energy factor of at least 2.00, or an energy factor greater than 2.80 for dehumidifiers that remove more than 75 pints of moisture a day.
Pro Tip: If you don’t know the energy usage of your dehumidifier, watts can be measured by using devices like P3 Kill A Watt Edge. Simply plug your dehumidifier into the device, and it can calculate the energy consumption of your machine in active or standby mode!
You can take steps to ensure your dehumidifier works as well—and as energy efficiently—as possible in maintaining your ideal home humidity. Here’s how to get the most benefits out of using your dehumidifier:
Energy-efficient dehumidifiers play an integral role in maintaining your ideal home humidity. From selecting the best dehumidifier sizing to the best energy-efficient features to look for, the proper dehumidifier improves your home’s air quality while preventing moisture damage to the building’s structures.
With Constellation’s help, you can find the right dehumidifier for your needs, and you’ll have a healthier, more comfortable home.
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