Humidity, or the lack thereof, is a popular topic this time of year. Where I live in northern Colorado, it’s dry! We have like no humidity. Well, not exactly, but it averages in the low mid-20 percent during the summer and fall months. We have a humidifier in our home, and it runs 24/7 year-round for health and comfort.
Recently, lots of readers have inquired about how to deal with the opposite—high humidity, which can get pretty miserable. A dehumidifier can be a godsend for those who live in high humidity areas to remove excess moisture from indoor air.
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What is a dehumidifier?
Think of a dehumidifier as a vacuum that sucks the air from a room, removing the moisture and blowing dry air back into the room again. The condensation drips into a collection tank inside the machine that must be emptied from time to time.
Many people find that a dehumidifier works together with the air conditioning system to keep the rooms in a home comfortable even on the hottest days with super high humidity. Others rely on a dehumidifier in place of an air conditioner.
Dehumidifiers come in a variety of sizes, typically rated according to how many square feet they can dehumidify and how many pints of water they can produce in a day. Most home dehumidifiers are controlled by thermostats and humidity sensors so you can make the room as hot and dry as you wish.
Signs you need one
High humidity is just plain uncomfortable. It’s that hot, sticky feeling you just can’t shake. When it gets hot, it’s normal for your body to sweat as its way of cooling you down. But when it’s also super humid, your perspiration never dries completely, making you feel terminally damp, sticky, and just plain uncomfortable!
If your windows on wet on the outside, chances are pretty good it’s raining. But when they’re drippy wet on the inside? That’s humidity, baby! An accumulation of condensation on the inside of windows is a clear sign of unreasonably high humidity. This is another sign that you could certainly benefit from a dehumidifier.
Mysterious water stains
You’ve checked the roof and all the pipes and can find no sign of leaks. Still, you have what look like ugly water stains on the ceiling and or walls. Those may be another symptom of excessive humidity inside the house. Water that condenses in these areas can eventually lead to peeling paint and even damaged drywall. Both of which are not cheap to repair.
You’ve got mold
Discovering mold and mildew climbing the walls in your home… and driving you up the wall, is another sign that it’s just too humid in there. That condition is inviting airborne mold spores to take up residence where they are free to multiply.
According to the Mayo Clinic, breathing air laden with mold spores can lead to more serious health problems. Symptoms include a chronic stuffy nose, sneezing, watery eyes, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
A scientific review of the health effects of humidity published in 1986 by Arundel et al, reports that high levels of indoor humidity can encourage bacteria, viruses, mites and fungi, and more respiratory infections and sicknesses. “The majority of adverse health effects caused by relative humidity would be minimized by maintaining indoor levels between 40 and 60%.”
It’s one thing to feel hot and sweaty, it’s another to see exactly the relative humidity level. In the same way a thermometer checks the temperature of a room, a humidity gauge—also known as a hygrometer—shows the current humidity expressed as a percentage. In general, when the outdoor temperature is over 50F, indoor humidity levels should not exceed 50%.
How to choose?
Dehumidifiers come in a variety of sizes and capacities—from whole-house units that tie into the HVAC system and dump water right into a sump pump, to portable units that are self- contained and can be moved from room to toom.
Whether you’ve got a humid office, garage, closet or bedroom, there’s a dehumidifier that can handle it all. The smallest size of dehumidifier I recommend removes up to 30-pints of moisture from the air per day with its 3-liter water tank capacity. It’s recommended for small, indoor spaces like closets or offices up to 1,000 square feet.
A 50-pint capacity dehumidifier is built to handle a 1,000 to 2,500 square foot area and works well for bedrooms or common spaces. A 70-pint capacity dehumidifier is intended for rooms between 2,500 to 4,000 square feet, such as basements, cellars, or large spaces.
Typically dehumidifiers are cheaper to operate than air conditioning. You can cut the operation costs even further when you select an Energy Star-certified dehumidifier, which will use about 15% less energy than conventional units.
Best Inexpensive dehumidifiers
The hOmeLabs family of dehumidifiers deserves your full attention for several reasons. First, these machines are not ugly—who wants some big monster of a machine taking up space?
Next, these units are workhorses that come in a variety of sizes. Remember to select the machine that most closely matches the square footage of the space you need to dehumidify. And, they are super easy to use. hOmeLabs dehumidifiers are quiet, efficient, attractive, Energy-Star certified and priced right with a 2-year warranty.
For these reasons, I pick hOmeLabs dehumidifiers as Best Inexpensive Humidifiers.