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Here’s to Happy Breathing: Comparing Dehumidifiers

Breathe in, breathe out…ahhh.

Breathe in, breathe out…ahhh.

So you’ve decided to purchase a dehumidifier to improve the air quality in your home. When you bring home your new moisture-extracting baby, what should you expect? How do these things work and what features do they have, anyway?

Dehumidifiers use a fan to pull in air over two sets of hot and cold refrigerated coils, pulling out the moisture in the air as if you were wringing it with a wet wash cloth. The general factor that sets dehumidifiers apart is how many pints of water they can extract per day.

Important product factor to consider when purchasing are the noise level, water removal, energy efficiency, appearance and extra features such as being able to convert this moisture into drinkable water.

Installation. First things first: you have to figure out how and where to place this new appliance for maximum efficiency. Some dehumidifiers are designed for installation by the central air where they are not as visible and can monitor humidity for the whole house. Make sure you know how your model needs to be installed (Do you need an installation professional? Will someone just drop it off on your doorstep for you to plug in?). Also know where the optimum place to put it is. Nothing could be a bigger waste than to buy an appliance then put it in a place where it can’t do its job very well. Also, be careful with the temperature of the area as dehumidifiers do not take kindly to cold and can ice up.

Appearance. Along with installation, know how big your dehumidifier is going to be as you’re ordering it and pick one that you like. Dehumidifiers, regardless of design, are not exactly sexy or decorative wall art. Most home appliances are usually seen as bulky and unattractive. Whether improving on this means getting a specific color to match or a smaller/bigger size to fit the proportion of the room, it’s your house and you get to decide. Use the design options at your disposal.

Peace and quiet. Between the neighbors mowing the lawn, the dog that barks at everything and screaming children, the last thing you probably want is something else to sit in your house and create excess noise. For a calmer home environment, it’s best to pick something that doesn’t crunch, hum, or shriek while you are trying to work, relax, or sleep. While no dehumidifier is silent, be aware of its decibel level (dB) so you know if you will be hearing the soft sound of falling leaves or something more along the lines of a household vacuum.

How much water? It can be tricky to know how many pints of water you will need a dehumidifier to extract from the air per day. Informed consumers usually decide this based on the area that needs to be dehumidified. Make sure your dehumidifier is able to function for a larger space than you need; if you’re dehumidifying a larger space than your device was made for, your dehumidifier will wear out very quickly and won’t function as well, so going up a size proven to be is the most efficient and long-lasting.

Energy ratings. Everyone wants appliances that will do more with less energy and lower their electric bill and help save on utility expenses each month. Look for those that are “Energy Star” certified. This is a special EPA certification reserved for products with more efficient coils and fans. These will use up to 15% less energy than similar models, enough energy to power your refrigerator for 4 months. Efficiency is no joke when it turns into saved money.

Extra features. If saving the earth’s drinking water is what you’re about, you will be pleased to know that some dehumidifiers known as AWGs or atmospheric water generators can convert the condensation that was making the air around you stuffy and heavy into safe drinking water, instead of just being used as greywater safe for non-edible plants. Dehumidifier greywater has bacteria from the air in it, but an AWG is designed to create distilled water, where dehumidification itself almost becomes secondary.

Other big product features to consider are digital controls, having a humidistat, timers, handles, fan speeds, mobile casters and housing finishes.

Also, like any product, pay attention to the warranty. Is your dream dehumidifier covered as much or better as similar products on the market?

Figuring all this out and making these decisions may seem complicated, but remember why you are doing this: to improve wellness and air quality as well as reduce home allergens, pests and mold. Remember that these efforts are more than commendable. So here’s to happy breathing in all the spaces that you may inhabit, present and future.

Sources: Consumer Reports, Energy Star.