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Buying a Dehumidifier vs Making Your Own: Is It Worth It?

Mystery allergy? Musty odor in your home? Mold growth? Unexplained stains on walls? There is a chance that if you're exhibiting these symptoms, your home has a high level of humidity and you might need a dehumidifier.


New Orleans, Jacksonville, Houston, Orlando, Tampa, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Portland, and Rochester, according to www.currentresults.com are the top ten cities with the highest humidity levels in America. These cities on average hold a humidity level of around 72.5%. If you live in one of these cities, the symptoms you are experiencing are perhaps due to humidity.

Understanding Levels of Humidity

Reaction Level of humidity (%)
Discomfort/Excessively dry 30%
Comfortable/Slightly Humid 31% - 41%
Moderate Discomfort/Humid 37 - 46%
Discomfort/Very Humid 52%

Compare this to the average of the top ten humid cities in America, 72.5%.

What Is Humidity?

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Really high levels can have a negative impact on your home. High humidity has an impact on your skin, electronic devices, mold growth and comfort. That is why many people use dehumidifiers in their home to control high levels of humidity.

Dehumidifiers: What Are They? 

Dehumidifieres are a household appliance that help reduce the levels of water vapor in the air. It condenses water vapor and then deposits it away to ultimately clean the air. There are various types of dehumidifiers. Energy efficiency depends on the specific model you are using. Depending on the type you use, you may be paying a heavy price on your energy bill

Dehumidifiers: What Types Are There?

There are four general types of dehumidifiers:

  1. Heat Pump Dehumidifier- Exchanges humid air to dry air. It uses a fan, a heat pump, and a heat exchange coil. It uses the fan to attract indoor air over the heat exchange coil that is reduced to near-freezing temperatures. Afterwards, air condenses on the coil and gets deposited into a tank.
  2. Dehumidifying Ventilator- Uses a sensor and an exhaust fan, which together help control humidity in the room. Typically, these are used for basements, attics, and small spaces.
  3. Chemical Absorbent Dehumidifier- Silica-gel and desiccant-type adsorbents are heated and attached to a wheel meanwhile a loop dries the gel and exhausts the humid air through an outside vent.
  4. Homemade Dehumidifier- Commonly households use de-icing salt to attract dampness from the air. The humidity captured gets deposited to the bucket below with salt.
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Dehumidifiers can be categorized into different usage types as well. There are portable dehumidifiers, basement dehumidifiers, and whole home dehumidifiers.

Home-Made Dehumidifiers

The last dehumidifier mentioned above is one you can build yourself. However, in order to figure out which type of dehumidifier is ultimately best for you it is important to consider its price, energy efficiency, size, and the amount of humidity in your area.

Dehumidifier: Average Prices

  • Heat Pump Dehumidifiers- $150 - $400 but there are high end ones priced at $1,500+
  • Dehumidifying Ventilators- $90 - $300
  • Chemical Absorbent Dehumidifiers- $100 - $140 / Silica-gel is sold separately
  • Homemade Dehumidifiers- Depends on the weight for example some retailers sell for about $15.97/lbs. 

Energy Efficient Dehumidifiers

For energy efficient dehumidifiers it is important to check out the number of pints of water removed from the air per kWh (kilowatt hour). The higher the amount of water being extracted per kWh, the more energy efficient. It is also useful to see if a particular dehumidifier has the Energy Star label. However, don't be misled by this as it only represents a dehumidifier model’s energy efficiency relative to other models in its category. Of course, the homemade dehumidifier takes no energy, as it does not actually consume any kWh.

Sizes of Dehumidifiers

Different types of dehumidifiers come in different sizes, meant for particular types of spaces such as basements, closets, and bathrooms. The bigger the dehumidifier, the higher the chance that it will consume more energy, leading to higher energy bills. However, dehumidifier capacity depends on two important factors as it is measured in pints per 24 hours, one is the size of the area that needs to be dehumidified and the second is the conditions that exist prior to being dehumidified. Check out this chart here to find what size fits for you:

Pints of Water Absorbed Relative to the Area and Condition of Humidity
Condition without Dehumidification 500 Sq. Feet 1,000 Sq. Feet 1,500 Sq. Feet 2,000 Sq. Feet 2,500 Sq. Feet
Moderately Damp 10 14 18 22 26
Very Damp 12 17 22 27 32
Wet 14 20 26 32 38
Extremely Wet 16 23 30 37 44

Amount of Humidity In Your Home

Aside from the obvious symptoms (mystery allergy, musty odor in your home, mold growth, and unexplained stains on walls),  you can also use a hygrometer, a device used to measure the exact amount of moisture content in the atmosphere. If you find that your home does not have that high humidity levels than perhaps a homemade dehumidifier might be a better investment than a dehumidifying ventilator.

Buying a Dehumidifier: Is it Worth it? 

If you have really high levels of humidity in your home and live in big house, it is worth investing in a dehumidifier! Generally, dehumidifier ventilators come in first place when it comes to energy efficiency and performance. Depending on the brand and model, these types of dehumidifiers can absorb up to 70 pints of moisture from 3,800 square foot area. Some models even come with automatic and adjustment features such as fan speed adjustments, allowing you to set it up in accordance to the area and humidity level. Certain models come with auto shut-off features, in which the dehumidifier turns off after the desired level of humidity is met. It is important to check out if the specific model you are looking into have a decent sized reservoir bucket. If it is too small, this means it will be part of your daily responsibility to empty the reservoir.

If you are looking into saving money both on buying an actual dehumidifier and the resulting electric bill, you should look into these factors: price of the dehumidifiers, capacity (pints per 24 hours), liters of water absorbed per kWh, adjustable features such as auto shut-off and size of the actual appliance.

Leaning towards a high-end dehumidifier? Find out how to lower your energy bill by switching suppliers. This may help offset some of the additional cost of buying an expensive model needed to meet your home's needs. Call us at 1 (832) 460-0233 to find out more.

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