Humidity, or the lack thereof, is always a popular topic. Where I live in northern Colorado, it's dry! We have no humidity. Well, not exactly, but it averages in the low- to mid-20% 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.
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. 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 rooms comfortable even on the hottest, most humid days. 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.
If your windows are 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.
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.
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.
It's one thing to feel hot and sweaty, but it's another to see the exact 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 50 F, 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 heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and dump water right into a sump pump to portable units that are self- contained and can be moved from room to room.
Whether you've got a humid office, garage, closet or bedroom, there's a dehumidifier that can handle it all. The smallest dehumidifier that 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 from 2,500 to 4,000 square feet such as basements, cellars or other large spaces.
BEST INEXPENSIVE DEHUMIDIFIERS
The hOmeLabs family of dehumidifiers deserves your full attention for several reasons. First, these units are workhorses that come in a variety of sizes. And they are super easy to use. In addition to these features, hOmeLabs dehumidifiers are quiet, efficient, attractive, Energy Star certified and priced right with a two-year warranty.
For all these reasons, I pick hOmeLabs dehumidifiers as Best Inexpensive humidifiers. If you would like more product details about these dehumidifiers go to https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/dehumidifiers.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary a Question." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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