Britain is quite a humid country, which makes the summers hotter than they are and the winters colder. This moisture transfers into our homes, which means that many of us spend a lot of time in damp homes. If you’ve noticed the telltale signs of a damp home, like damp spots on the walls, mold, or frequent condensation on the windows, there might be a solution for you: a dehumidifier.
Dehumidifiers work by removing excess water from the surrounding air, keeping humidity levels low, which helps reduce mold growth and damp walls. They’re fairly easy to use (just turn them on and off), aren’t too expensive to run, and unlike older versions, are now quieter than ever. These should not be confused with humidifiers, which add humidity to dry environments.
There are two main types of dehumidifiers: refrigerants and desiccants. A refrigerant dehumidifier filters the air which then hits the cold coils inside the machine. The water condenses and drips into a tank, to be emptied when full.
With desiccant dehumidifiers, on the other hand, an adsorbent material pulls the water out of the air, which heats it up before it drips into the tank. According to experts, refrigerant dehumidifiers are best suited for high temperatures, while dehumidifiers work best at lower temperatures (like, say, an unheated basement or attic).
Should I buy a dehumidifier? They can provide a more hospitable living environment, making your bedroom or home less stuffy in the summer, for example. Dehumidifiers also help allergy sufferers, as allergens, bacteria, dust mites, mold and the like thrive in humid conditions. Wet conditions have also been found to reduce concentration levels and increase drowsiness.
Then there’s also your home to consider, as high humidity can damage wood, with window sills being particularly vulnerable to rot. Depending on its capacity, a dehumidifier can remove up to 25 liters of moisture from its surrounding atmosphere per day. Over time, this moisture could wreak havoc on the structure of your home.
A dehumidifier will be a useful tool against problems caused by a humid environment, but it should be noted that there are some forms of preventative action you can take in order to minimize these problems. Exhaust fans, when cooking on a hob or taking a bath, are important. And when you shower, wipe down all wet walls and floors. When drying clothes, hang them near an open window or outdoors if you can.
Still, if you’ve noticed any of the following, it might be time to consider a dehumidifier:
- Mold on walls, especially ceilings or corners. These can spread and become toxic, with repercussions for people with respiratory problems.
- Smells of mold and mildew.
- Condensation. If your windows are regularly wet in winter, your room may be too humid.
- Water damage. It could be a leak or a ventilation problem.
- Rotten wood.
Prices start from around £30, for a small portable model, all the way up to over £300 for something more powerful. Cost will usually have an effect on efficiency, and something more expensive to start with might just be more efficient, thus saving energy as you’ll have to run it for a shorter amount of time.
There is little maintenance with a dehumidifier. You will want to keep the humidity in your rooms at around 45-55%; in winter you might want to go down to 40%. If your humidity is above 65% for too long, that’s when mold can start to grow. You can easily determine the humidity using a hygrometer (often integrated, otherwise you can buy one separately). Since dehumidifiers capture water, you will need to regularly empty the contents.
A few other things to note:
You can vacuum your room before use, to avoid spreading dust around the dehumidifier and thus clogging the filter. You should also vacuum the filter regularly to prevent it from clogging.
Keep the device away from walls, furniture or curtains. This is tricky, as dehumidifiers can be quite ugly, so you’ll want to store them in a corner, but it helps them run more efficiently.
Here are the best dehumidifiers currently on the market.
The best dehumidifiers for 2021
1. Meaco 20l Low Consumption Refrigerant Dehumidifier
Why we love it: low power consumption and large capacity
£238.95, air conditioning center