Spring is a time when warm air and cold air fight for supremacy, even in your home. This means a lot more moisture in the air as the warm air begins to gain its advantage as warmer weather advances, since warm air carries more moisture than cold. Dehumidifiers can help balance out the moisture in the air, and a lot of the issues that it can cause, mold growth being one of the most problematic.
But, in this age of energy efficiency, how do you keep ahead of the humidity curve without overspending on energy output? Home and garden writer Alyssa Davis approaches that very subject here, outlining the basics of dehumidifying a space while being energy efficient, too.
Using a dehumidifier in damp areas of your home can help to avoid problems such as moisture damage, mold and mildew. However, some people are hesitant to use a dehumidifier because they tend to use a lot of electricity. If you want to keep your home comfortably dry and yet save energy and money at the same time, here are some tips to help you dehumidify your home in the most energy efficient fashion.
Understanding Your Needs
Before shopping for a dehumidifier, it’s important to clearly understand your needs. Because dehumidifiers are generally categorized by the pints of moisture they can remove every 24 hours, you’ll need to know approximately how humid your space is, as well as knowing its overall size. Start by measuring the area. Then, assess the overall moisture levels of the area by noting some of the telltale signs of humidity problems.
Once you know these two facts, you can look online for a dehumidifier calculator to help you determine approximately how many pints of water you will need to remove every 24 hours. The temperature of the space is also important, since you’ll likely need a model designed to operate at lower temperatures in spaces that average below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s important to look for the Energy Star rating when choosing a dehumidifier, to ensure that the model you choose operates efficiently. Although many older dehumidifier models can use as much electricity as a refrigerator, newer models are designed to be much more energy conscious and efficient.
When choosing your dehumidifier, be sure to use the use the measurements and assessments you made previously to calculate how much moisture you need to remove. Don’t buy a dehumidifier that is more powerful than what you really need. Otherwise, you’ll simply be wasting energy when operating the unit, especially if you accidentally get it set too high.
Economical Use of Dehumidifiers
Once you have purchased an energy efficient dehumidifier, there ways that you can use it in a more energy efficient manner. Ideally, you should position your dehumidifier so that it is not flush against the wall or any furniture pieces, especially if your unit does not discharge the air from the top. This will allow for better air circulation, allowing for more efficient operation.
You should also position the unit away from any major sources of dirt or dust, such as would be the case with woodworking equipment. These materials can clog the dehumidifier grills and coils, causing inefficient operation and perhaps even damage to the unit over time. Finally, you should always keep all windows and doors connected to the space closed while the dehumidifier is being used. This can be an especially important practice if the outside air is extremely humid.
Maintain Reasonable Relative Humidity
Proper use of the control settings can also help reduce energy consumption and cost. Although the controls will vary depending on the model you buy, you should try to avoid using the dehumidifier in a “continuous operation” mode whenever possible. Instead, you’ll want to set the controls so that the dehumidifier will shut off when the proper relative humidity level has been achieved.
In most cases, you’ll want to maintain a relative humidity (RH) level of between 30% and 50%. A level higher than this could cause moisture damage and bacteria growth. However, if you continue to run the dehumidifier until lower levels are achieved, you’re probably wasting energy and money.