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Could your home benefit from a whole house dehumidifier? It might, especially if you live in a humid or muggy climate, if anyone in your household suffers from allergies or asthma, if you notice a lot of condensation on windows and mirrors or if you've experienced mildew or mold issues. A home dehumidifier works by removing excess moisture from the air, which can help alleviate some of these problems and others.
First, it's helpful to know what the relative humidity range is inside your home. While humidity levels can vary due to changing seasons, weather, energy use, air circulation and other factors, most experts agree that keeping the relative humidity level between 30% and 50% is a good goal, with 45% being best for comfort and for health. In summer months, you can expect the average interior humidity to be higher, and in winter months it will likely be lower. You can gauge your home's relative humidity level with a device called a hygrometer, which can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores.
Here are five ways that a dehumidifier may help your home:
• Allergies - Many allergens and allergy triggers, such as dust mites, mold, and mildew, favor humid environments. Rooms where water is used or that contain poor air circulation, like bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements, may be especially prone to harboring allergy causing substances, which can spread throughout a house. A dehumidifier can help decrease the moisture that supports allergen growth, improving air quality and helping to prevent some types of bacteria and virus growth as well.
• Pest control - Allergens aren't the only unwelcome things that like humidity. Many pests, such as spiders and roaches, gravitate to moist environments. If you've noticed some creepy crawly guests sharing your space, a dehumidifier may help discourage their visits. Pay attention to the rooms where you spot the most pest activity, and if they are rooms where water is present or humidity is high, you may have found the root of the problem.
• Moisture - High levels of moisture in a home can cause structural problems over time. Condensation can build up, causing mildew and mold to form, as well as warping and deterioration. Even furniture can be damaged from long-term humidity and high moisture. Ironically, homes that are well sealed for energy efficiency can have some of the worst problems because of decreased air circulation. If you notice paint or wallpaper peeling, unusual stains, or a musty or moldy odor, you may need a dehumidifier to help prevent additional damage.
• Comfort - Homes with proper humidity levels are generally more comfortable, which can be especially noticeable in tropical or muggy climates. The indoor air quality is usually improved, and the air stays cooler when a dehumidifier is in use.
• Energy costs - A dehumidifier may help control energy costs by helping your air conditioner work more efficiently. Because a dehumidifier works to remove moisture from the air, it means your air conditioner likely doesn't have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature, saving energy use as well as wear and tear on your cooling equipment. ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifiers offer even more savings because they use 15 percent less energy to run. Though whole house dehumidifiers may be more expensive on the front end (averaging between $900 and $1200), it uses less energy than portable dehumidifiers, therefore saving you more money over the course of time.
Of course, humidity levels that are too low can cause problems in a home, too. If your home has low humidity, people in your household may notice dry skin and throats, and can even be more prone to colds, especially during the winter months. Much like high humidity can cause condensation that harms structures, the other end of the spectrum can cause damage to buildings as well. Too much dry air can harm wood floors, drywall, and furniture.
If you decide that a dehumidifier would be a good addition to your home, there are specific qualities to consider, such as what capacity would fit your needs and where you would place the equipment. You might also want to find out how quietly a specific model runs, how easy it is to clean and other important factors before making a purchase decision. The HomeTuneUp.com offers great tips on how to choose a unit and what to consider. They also provide a helpful rundown of the Top 5 Whole House Dehumidifiers of 2015.
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