Dehumidifiers use a fan to pull air over two sets of refrigerant-filled coils, which pull moisture from the air and drip it into a tank. All the models we evaluated in our test chamber performed at least adequately overall. But some came much closer than others to the humidity levels we set on the humidistat. And some used less energy or ran more quietly. We've also found that some models handle simulated power outages better than others.
Consider where it will go
Noise is a concern in living spaces. Our measurements from four feet typically range from about 55 to 67 decibels for the models we test. That's about the difference between the sound of loud conversation and the din of street traffic.
Look for energy savings
A dehumidifier can rack up well over $100 per year in electric costs. The largest-capacity humidifiers tend to be the most efficient, removing the most water for each kilowatt-hour used. Models with an Energy Star seal are 10 to 20 percent more efficient than non-Energy Star models. Our tests compare efficiency across small- , medium- and large-capacity models by measuring the watts needed to remove a pint of water from the air.
Time your purchase
New models appear in late spring and early summer, and most sales and in-store promotions occur from June through August. You might find closeout deals in the fall and early winter.
Fix existing problems
Even the best dehumidifier may not work effectively if too much outside moisture seeps into your home. Begin by checking that gutters aren't clogged and that downspouts are directing rainwater at least 3 feet away from the house. Grade your property so that rainwater flows away from the foundation. Keep the duct for your clothes dryer properly vented to the outside, making sure that it isn't clogged or leaking. Run an exhaust fan or open a window when showering, and squeegee or wipe down shower walls afterward. When cooking, use a range hood that vents outdoors.
In the basement, check the plumbing for leaks and condensation. For a damp rather than leaky basement, applying a waterproof coating (when walls are dry) may help. Use silicone caulk to seal small gaps in the foundation, and hydraulic cement for cracks. More extensive problems may require a sump pump, excavating and waterproofing exterior foundation walls, and installing drains outside.
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