The Best Way to Use Your Dehumidifier in the Summer

When you think of summer, you think of beaches, fun, and frolicking. But the glitz and glamour of summer always comes with the less talked about (yet very annoying) feeling of stickiness and sweating from the often-unbearable high heat levels during this time of year. Because of the increased humidity levels found during this season, the summer months may make sections of your home or office seem stuffy, unpleasant, and even claustrophobic.

But this article brings good news! You don't have to suffer the massive heat and humidity wave throughout the summer by using your dehumidifier properly. In this article, you'll learn the tips and tricks to how you can make the most out of your dehumidifier during the hot season. Hopefully, you'll be walking out optimistic for the summer after you've read this article.

What is a Dehumidifier and How Does It Work?


Simply put, dehumidifiers operate to regulate the amount of moisture that is detected in the air. They draw moisture from warmer air into cooling components, creating condensation, which draws the water out of the air and spits the drier air back out.

If you're curious as to how that happens, you should only be aware of four basic components. The fan, compressor cooling coils, reservoir (bucket), and reheater are the essential parts of this contraption that you need to be aware of. In the process, the fan first draws air into the dehumidifier from a surrounding region. Then, when the air is confined, it travels over the cooling coils, which remove moisture from the air and cause condensation. Condensation, which is simply water droplets, is gathered in the reservoir, which resembles a bucket. The air is then reheated by the reheater and returned to the room. When the bucket is full of water and must be emptied, most dehumidifiers sound an alert.

On the other hand, some dehumidifiers feature direct ports for connecting a hose to discharge the water collected into a drain. (Related: The Ideal Indoor Humidity To Keep You Comfortable At Home)

Benefits of Having a Dehumidifier in the Summer


During the summer, you want to enjoy the vacations that you're supposed to take, so you should take all the extra measures that you can do to ensure that your home environment is comfortable. In this part of the blog, we present the four ways in which a dehumidifier helps with the uncomfortable environment during the summer:

  • Removes moisture from the air, reducing humidity and making the air seem colder. When air loses heat, it reduces its ability to hold moisture. As you've learned, a dehumidifier uses a fan to draw in hot, humid air, which comes into touch with cooling coils as it goes through; when this happens, the moisture condenses out of the air and stays on the coils. The moisture is then collected in a bucket, and the air is exhaled back into the room. Dehumidifiers work by removing excess moisture from the air, which helps to eliminate dampness in your house, thus making it seem cooler.
  • Reduces the number of dust mites and improves air quality. In the summer, using a dehumidifier to enhance indoor air quality and reduce the likelihood of allergy symptoms and asthma attacks is a great idea. For whole-house dehumidifiers (and even portable ones), they assist in minimizing allergens like mildew and mold growth in the home environment by eliminating excess moisture from the air supply. Dust mites, for example, flourish in high-humidity environments. By dehumidifying the home, concentrations are significantly decreased.
  • In especially humid summer circumstances, it prevents mold growth. It's hard to eliminate all mold spores from your house. Mold may remain latent in the air or on surfaces even if there isn't enough moisture for it to develop. Mold will begin to develop in spots on walls, clothing, and other surfaces when the humidity in a room rises (which is particularly true during the summer season.) However, while dehumidifiers are unable to destroy mold, they do help you avoid it.
  • Running costs are low, and there are a variety of choices to suit any room size. The high humidity makes us feel uncomfortably hot, which is one of the reasons why people rely on air conditioners so much during the summer. When the air is humid, it takes longer for the air to absorb moisture from our skin, making us feel hotter for extended periods of time. When it gets too hot, we turn on the air conditioner, which uses more electricity.

Best Dehumidifier Settings and Practices for the Summer


While the benefits of having a dehumidifier may now be apparent, all of these benefits will become moot if you don't understand how to set your dehumidifier according to your environmental needs. In the summer, while our main goal would be to beat the heat (while conserving energy), we might be tempted to crank up the dehumidifier to make the air cooler but removing too much moisture from the air can cause its own set of issues. Dry air irritates the nose and throat, which is especially bothersome for those prone to hay fever or even for the healthiest of people in prolonged circumstances.

Hence, it's critical to know what settings or practices you must abide by to get the most out of your dehumidifier in the summer season, and the following are just vital tips:

1. Start by Cleaning out the Grill


Keep things fresh. The filter cleans the air that goes through the dehumidifier, and when it's unclean, the effectiveness of your dehumidifier suffers. Many of the models in our rankings feature a light that indicates when it's time to clean the filter. It should be washed and dried on a regular basis, as directed in your owner's handbook. While you're at it, look over the instructions for cleaning the grill in the handbook.

If you were convinced by the benefits stated above, you're probably going to whip out the dehumidifier that you haven't used in a while to replace your 24/7 AC usage. However, air movement is hindered when the grill is unclean, so you need to clean it before you experience its cooling effect during the summer.

2. Position it in the Right Area


Choose the ideal location. Allow adequate space for air to move freely into and out of the dehumidifier. Generally, there are only two types of dehumidifiers, portable and whole-house dehumidifiers, each possessing its own advantages and disadvantages. Of course, if you have a whole-house one, then you wouldn't have to worry about this step because whole-house dehumidifiers are put near your HVAC unit, and, as the name implies, they function to dehumidify every room. But if you have portable units, though they are less costly, they must be positioned strategically because they usually just dehumidify small-room areas.

However, in any case, they should have plenty of room around the dehumidifier. Most dehumidifiers have a top-mounted air outlet and may be positioned against walls, while side-discharge units should be operated away from walls and furniture to allow for unobstructed air circulation.

3. Decide on a Humidity Level


Now, time to answer the question “What should I set my dehumidifier at?”.  According to Energy Star, the ideal relative humidity level is between 30 and 50 percent (and 30 to 40 percent in colder areas during the heating season). In the instance that the humidity level rises over that, dust mites, mildew, and mold can thrive, triggering allergies that no homeowner wants for their family.

However, if you want to keep your energy cost under control during the hotter summer months (or if you reside in a humid environment), aim for the 50 percent level.

A dehumidified space at 78 degrees Fahrenheit might feel as pleasant as a humid one at 70 degrees Fahrenheit because a dehumidifier eliminates humidity from the airflow. As a result, a dehumidifier allows you to raise your thermostat temperature while still being comfortable and conserving energy.

4. Empty the Tank on a Regular Basis


An indicator flashes when the tank is full and the dehumidifier turns off. By emptying the tank on a regular basis during the hot season, you are able to keep the dehumidifier running when you're not at home. Alternatively, you may attach a hose to any of the tested dehumidifiers and direct the water to a nearby drain. A built-in pump in certain dehumidifiers pumps water horizontally or vertically through the hose and into a sink or even outside (through a basement window, for example).

5. All Windows and Doors should be Shut


During the summer, the naturally humid atmosphere is your worst enemy. So, obviously, using your dehumidifier while your doors and windows let in all that unpleasant humidity is counterproductive and makes it harder for your machine to work. As a solution, enclosing your area makes it easier for the dehumidifier to do its job.

How to Pick out a Dehumidifier


  • Don't be afraid to splurge on features. Most portable dehumidifiers come with a detachable water bucket, a warning light to let you know when it's filled, and a hose connection fitting (so you don't have to empty the water tank). If the temperature goes below 65 degrees, you might also want to search for a frost sensor to prevent frost from developing on the condensing coils.
  • Go for the eco-friendly option. Opting for greener options requires less energy. In searching for a dehumidifier, look for an Energy Star-certified model, which will use almost 30% less energy and feature more efficient refrigeration coils, compressors, and fans than a standard model.
  • Pick out the adequate size. The term "size" does not refer to the dehumidifier's physical dimensions but rather to its capacity—the number of pints of water it can remove from the air in a 24-hour period. Depending on the amount of dampness, Energy Star suggests a 10- to 16-pint size for 500 square feet and a 26- to 44-pint size for 2,500 square feet for a house with lower levels of humidity.
  • Shop for it during the off-season. The greatest discounts on portable dehumidifiers are usually found in the late summer and early fall, so if you're reading this in those seasons, then you're in luck! You'll also be able to obtain a lower price for a whole-house system at that time than you would when the weather is humid, and contractors are busy.
  • Take into consideration installing a whole-house system. Portable units are less expensive upfront, but their moisture removal capacity is significantly lower, and their operational costs are greater. A contractor will need to measure and install a bespoke whole-house unit, but the cheaper running expenses and consistent comfort may be worth the investment in the long run.

Conclusion


Having a dehumidifier is great for all of the reasons that were mentioned in this article. But it's always great to know that you can take better advantage of what your machine can offer when you know how to operate it according to your specific needs, especially during the summer.

Much like every machine in your house, dehumidifiers also need proper maintenance for them to function to their fullest capacity. When you've done everything, you can set it right, but it still somehow doesn't feel like it's doing the job, then don't hesitate to call a professional! At the end of the day, once you get your dehumidifier up and running, nothing will stop you from enjoying your home-cations for the rest of the summer!

Kenneth Wilson
September 21, 2021
Contractor Tips, Interior

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done.