Is a Whole-Home Dehumidifier Right for Me?

Is a Whole-Home Dehumidifier Right for Me?
Arne Jacobsen
Residential Sales Professional

I have been in heating and air conditioning trade for 44 years. In that time, I have installed, serviced, designed ductwork, sold, and sized thousands of residential heating and cooling systems.

About This Article

High moisture levels create perfect conditions for mold growth, allergens, and musty odors. A properly sized Whole House Dehumidifier can be a beneficial product to control harmful high humidity issues.

Are you concerned about having excess moisture in your basement or home? Are there musty smells in your basement? Do your allergies act up when the indoor humidity levels rise?

High moisture levels create perfect conditions for mold growth, allergens, musty odors, and mildew, which can lead to unhealthy air in your home.

A properly sized whole-home dehumidifier can be a beneficial product to control harmful high humidity issues. Additionally, it can often be more cost-effective than a portable dehumidifier, which also won’t dehumidify your home to the same level.

It’s easy to notice an uptick in your seasonal allergies, but maintaining proper humidity levels in your home has several benefits:

  • Your general health
  • Comfort level in your home
  • Preservation of valuable items in your home
  • Energy efficiency compared to the alternatives.

Can a Dehumidifier Improve Your Health?

Whole-house dehumidifiers can reduce dust mite growth, mold, and other contaminants that can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. Taken together, these can drastically improve the health of your family.

Dust mites are tiny insect-like pests that live in dust. This dust gets embedded in carpets, mattresses, bedding, and upholstered furniture. The dust mites themselves are not the trigger for the allergy, but rather the fecal matter they might leave behind.

If that doesn’t sound appealing, you’re not alone. But many homes suffer from this issue.

Dust mites eat dead human skin flakes and pet dander. The other thing they need to survive is water. They don’t drink water like we do but absorb moisture into their bodies. This is where your home’s humidity level matters.

The moisture content levels must be at 50% relative humidity or above for them to survive. When a whole-home dehumidifier operates, it lowers humidity levels in the home below what dust mites need to survive.

Another allergen that can cause unhealthy environments in our homes is mold.

Mold or mold spores can enter into our homes through any opening that goes outside. These can be doors or windows. The musty smell is created by the growth of the mold.

As the mold spores circulate throughout our homes, they are looking for places to live. They especially thrive in areas where there is excessive moisture.

We can help control this growth with the installation of a whole-home dehumidifier, again by lowering the moisture levels below the 50% relative humidity range.

Improving Home Comfort Through Humidity Control

Did you know that a dehumidifier can help your air conditioner to be more efficient? Whole-house dehumidifiers remove moisture all year long in some parts of the country and during the summer months in other parts of the country to help the existing air conditioner control the humidity better.

Excess humidity levels of 50% or more in our homes can make us feel clammy and warmer than it is. By lowering the humidity level, ideally between 35%-45% RH (Relative Humidity), we can feel more comfortable at a higher temperature.

In my own home, we were able to turn the thermostat up during the cooling cycle a few degrees because of lower RH and felt as comfortable as we did at the lower thermostat setting.

Ultimately, this saves you on air conditioner operating costs by cutting down the run time of the air conditioner.

Preserving Your Possessions Through Whole-Home Dehumidifying

Whole-home dehumidifiers can help protect our home and possessions. Items like woodwork, drywall, home furnishings, musical instruments, and books can be preserved with controlled humidity levels.

Anything made of wood can be affected by moisture. Whether there is excessive humidity or it’s too dry, wood is hygroscopic, which means it will change its shape based on the relative humidity around it.

The wood will expand with high moisture levels and shrink with very low moisture levels. This process can make joints between two pieces of wood separate. This can be bad news for that old acoustic guitar hanging on your wall, for example.

Guitars Hanging on Wall

These items can be very expensive to replace if they become damaged by extreme humidity levels. The investment in a whole-home dehumidifier is an investment in your home’s protection and longevity.

Reduce Your Energy Bills With a Dehumidifier

Whole-house dehumidifiers cost less to operate than undersized portable units. You can experience energy savings up to $100 or more depending on where in the country you live, as well as a reduction in the daily run time needed.

$100 may not seem like a whole lot over the course of a year or even a month, but consider that it comes with better humidity control as well compared to portable dehumidifiers.

As mentioned, the whole-home dehumidifier can also decrease the cost to operate your whole house air conditioner system. Since one of the functions of an air conditioner is to remove humidity, the two systems work to lighten the load on the other.

By using the dehumidifier along with the air conditioner, the air conditioner’s run time can be lowered, making it more efficient by saving on the electricity the air conditioner uses. It also allows the air conditioner to extend its life expectancy.

Yes, there is a higher upfront cost to a whole-home dehumidifier. This is often what scares people away from purchasing one. However, they’re usually not considering all the different ways they’ll be improving their comfort, health, and efficiency, and all the different ways they’ll save money over the life of the system.

The combined savings can be hundreds of dollars per year, as well as increasing the lifespan of your air conditioning system.

What Are the Different Dehumidifier Installation Types?

There are two main types of installation for the whole-home dehumidifier:

One: Ducted to Existing Heating and Cooling Ductwork Method

The preferred method would be to duct a dehumidifier into the existing heating and cooling system’s ductwork.

This method would be for installations where the furnace or air handling equipment is installed in the basement, attic, or crawl space. The air inlets and outlets of the dehumidifier would be directly ducted to the ductwork of those pieces of equipment.

This method is the most efficient way to remove the high humidity levels throughout the home. This type of installation typically has a higher cost for the initial install, ~$2700 and up.

Two: Standalone Method

The other method of installation is the freestanding installation. This is the type that I have in my house, and it works for me. This is a non-ducted installation. One of the advantages of this installation type is that if the homeowner ever moves, they can unplug the unit from the electric receptacle and take it with them. This cannot be done with the ducted unit since it is permanently attached to the heating and cooling system as a fixture. It also costs less to install, starting at approximately $2,100.

Lastly, to fit your needs and lifestyle, you can control your dehumidifier using the onboard control panel, a remote dehumidifier control, or a digital thermostat.

Improve Your Life With Whole-Home Humidity Control

I had always kept a portable dehumidifier in my home. They seemed to work ok, but I noticed that they seemed to run all the time during humid months.

In the course of our HVAC training at Fire & Ice, I attended a training course on whole-home dehumidifiers. This made me curious enough to try it out myself. I understood the principles of how a dehumidifier removes moisture from its surrounding area, but the whole-home system seemed to go above and beyond what I was used to.

As mentioned, I opted for the non-ducted version, but it’s important to note that this version still serves as a dehumidifier for the whole home, given the power of the unit and the way air travels through a home.

The older, portable dehumidifiers never seemed to be able to keep up with moisture levels during the cooling season. As a result, my air conditioner was also running more than I would have liked.

As it happens, Fire & Ice had a “loaner” model that we could try out, so I hooked it up in my home. The results were immediate. Within two days, I had decided to purchase one for myself.

As a salesperson, I always think it’s very helpful to experience the products that we offer. So I’m proud to say that I don’t just sell these products, I own one myself.

Since the installation, I and my family have noticed fewer allergy issues, better comfort level, a decrease in our electric bill, and fewer spider webs.

Oh, did I not mention spiders until now? What do they have to do with dehumidifiers?! Well, dust mites are a favorite food of spiders. Reduce your humidity, and you’ll reduce dust mites. Reduce dust mites, and in turn, it means no food for spiders.

Get Your Whole-Home Dehumidifier Installed

These systems are useful and easy to use, but require a trained technician to install and ensure that they’re running properly.

We now know that high moisture levels in your home can affect your health, comfort level, the preservation of your home and possessions, and the energy efficiency of your air conditioner operation.

The last step is to make the call that starts your journey to proper humidity control. If you’re in Columbus, OH or the surrounding area, we hope your first call is to us.

At Fire & Ice Heating & Air Conditioning, our team of experts can provide you with all of your whole-home options, and the dehumidifier installation type that is best for you and your home.

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November 30th, 2020

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