Summer is here in full force and the air in your home may be feeling moist. (Hint: When your hardwood floors become a slip-and-slide you have problems.) If left untreated, too much moisture in the air can lead to unhealthy mold and bacteria growth as well as cause damage to wood furniture. If you rather not run the A/C or, worse yet, you don't have one, how can you rid the in-house humidity and cool off? One solution is to close all the windows and place a dehumidifier in your main living area or your bedroom. However, be prepare to rely on fans to keep the air circulating so that dehumidifier can be effective.
Do you need a dehumidifier?
The optimal relative humidity, which is the amount of water vapor present in the air, should be 30 to 50 percent in summer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You can purchase a hydrometer for around $20 to check the relative humidity in your home. If the hydrometer reads higher than that buying a dehumidifier should be on your to-do list. Expect to spend between $200 and $250 for a model that can extract 50 to 70 pints of water from the air in a 24-hour period. Although all top dehumidifiers are efficient enough to earn the EPA's Energy Star label, ConsumerReports.org says larger-capacity dehumidifiers are more efficient overall. You should select a 70-pint model if the area you need to dehumidify is greater than 800 square feet, and a space that's greater than 1,400 square feet may require more than one dehumidifier.
Choosing a dehumidifier
The most important factor to look for when buying a dehumidifier is the size of the collection container for the condensed water. It's not likely you'll want to hook up an unsightly drainage hose (an option with all top dehumidifiers) in your living space, so a larger collection container, like the 17-pint one on the Frigidaire FAD704TDP (*Est. $230), will require less frequent emptying. Other dehumidifiers covered in our dehumidifiers report have collection containers around 14 pints. Reviews say the Frigidaire also has a lower operating noise than most dehumidifiers, which is another factor that makes it ideal for living areas.
Another component you'll want to look for is a digital control panel that allows you to set the relative humidity you want. The dehumidifier then turns on and off as needed to maintain that humidity level. Other key convenience features to look for include:
One final thought
If you are shopping for a dehumidifier to control mold growth and musty odors in a basement, noise and convenient features won't be as important as operating efficiency at lower temperatures. In this case, look for a dehumidifier like the Danby DDR7009REE (*Est. $250), which has an automatic defrost to keep the coils from icing up.