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It’s easy to spot a humid home: there may damp spots on the wall, frequent condensation on windows, or mould and mildew on surfaces. Excess humidity is a common household concern - it can be caused by poor insulation/house construction, cooking, showering, even simple respiration.
Condensation, damp, mould, fungi and bacteria, all thrive when it is humid, exacerbating allergies, or leaving you susceptible to respiratory infections.
Thankfully, there is a relatively straightforward, cost effective way to cut down on humidity and dampness: a dehumidifier.
What is a dehumidifier? Are they energy efficient?
A dehumidifier removes excess water from the room, preventing mould, mildew and other issues that can harm your health and your home. Dehumidifiers are easy to use, they aren’t too expensive to run, and they are usually relatively quiet.
With regards to energy efficiency - a dehumidifier will help keep your house warmer in winter, as well as provide a more cost effective means of drying your washing in winter. They draw moisture and allergens away from wet clothes, speeding up drying time, but they are far more cost efficient than a tumble dryer - the average dehumidifier runs at around 40p an hour, while a tumble dryer positively chews through energy, running at an average cost of £1.55 an hour.
How do dehumidifiers work?
This depends on whether you have a ‘desiccant’ or ‘compressor’ model.
Desiccant dehumifidiers take the air and run it over a rotating flywheel to absorb the moisture - the wheel is then heated to ensure it doesn’t end up saturated.
Compressor dehumdifiers work in a manner similar to fridges. They use a fan to draw in air and pass it across extremely cold coils. The water then condenses and drips into a water tank. Finally, the air is reheated and pumped back into the room as warmer, drier air.
Compressors are better for regulating room temperature, but less adept at handling winter cold - i.e. if the temperature drops to zero or below. Desiccants can keep on working regardless of the temperature, but they are more expensive to run.
That said, both types will work to remove humidity from your house - making it cleaner, healthier, and warmer.
Best dehumidifiers at a glance:
- The gold standard for dehumidifiers: Meaco 20L Low Energy Platinum Dehumidifier - 3 Year Warranty
- Best for small spaces: Pro Breeze Dehumidifier 500ml
- Best for working through the cold: De’Longhi DEX216F Dehumidifier Navy
- Best for drying laundry: Honeywell 24L TP Small Energy Star Compressor Dehumidifier with Dust Filter
- Best for small homes: Black + Decker BXEH60002GB dehumidifier
How can a dehumidifier help me look after my home?
A dehumidifier can help you and your home in different ways throughout the seasons. In winter, it can aid you with your laundry drying as it will take all the water out of the air when you have to dry your clothes in home. In the summer, it can make your house to feel less muggy because it will reduce the humidity.
Dehumidifiers also have an added health benefit; they can help allergy sufferers to manage their symptoms, as allergens, bacteria, dust mites, mould and more thrive in humid conditions.
Key signs it is time to consider a dehumidifier
- Mould on walls, particularly in the ceiling or corners. Mould can spread and become toxic. This is particularly dangerous if you have respiratory issues
- Musty smells, particularly in closets
- Condensation on your windows
- Signs of water damage
- Rotting wood.
How else can I keep my environment warm, cosy, and healthy?
There are other ways to keep your house warm and the air in it clear and healthy this winter.
For even more winter warmers for your home, check out our guides to the best electric heaters, the top weighted blankets, the best winter duvets for your bed, and also our advice for how to stay warm without having the heating on all day.
Meaco make the gold standard of home dehumidifiers, and this particularly model - while on the pricy side - is an excellent investment for your household.
Why? Because it’s highly efficient - it’s lower levels of energy usage mean it will cost less to run than other models in the long run. It’s also very rapid and capable of reducing humidity and condensation over a large area - meaning it can dehumidify your entire home.
It takes 219 watts of electricity per hour (at an estimated cost of 7p per hour, based on the current average rate of 34p per kWh) to run - the lowest energy consumption of any dehumidifier of it’s size.
It tackles damp and mould exceptionally well.
If you’ve heard anything about HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, you’ll know they’re the most effective means of purifying the air. The Meaco has an inbuilt HEPA filter, essentially serving two purposes then - HEPA filties remove 99 percent of dust mites, pollen or other allergens in the air, so your home will be dry and healthy.
It is rather large, but the capacity is big enough to remove moisture in a whole house, meaning you won’t need to buy several devices around the home. The digital display also shows the room’s humidity reading, has a timer, child lock and a carry handle for practicality.
You can choose target humidity or use the Laundry setting to dry clothes.
If you have a bijou kitchen or bathroom that needs to be dehumidified, this tiny but might unit will do the task. A meagre 22cm tall and just over a kilo, you’ll be able to cart it from room to room with ease.
It uses peltier technology - to cool water vapour into water, making it an exceptionally quiet option, if you’re easily put off by white noise. At around a penny an hour to run, too, it’ll hardly set you back.
That said - it only removes 250ml of water at a time (hence: small spaces) and doesn’t work well in cold weather. But for a hot, small environment like a bathroom, it may be all you need.
Dehumidifiers are generally functional, rather than stylish, appliances, but the De’Longhi DEX216F dehumidifier, sleek and dark, is a looker - if aesthetics are important, this is your best bet for a dehumidifier that will be sympathetic to your surroundings.
A mid-sized model, it’s idela for living rooms or large bedrooms - De’Longhi claims it can handle rooms up to 75m².
Able to extract 16l of water a day, the 2.1l water tank won’t need constant attention. We liked the air conditioning effect, as well - drawing moisture and allergens from the, it left the room smelling fresh, as well as dry.
The anti-freeze function makes this a winner for winter - we found it worked without issue in our outdoor shed, and it is able to keep on chugging in extreme weather conditions. It’s a quiet, sleek model, a doddle to use, and comes with a double-filtration system and anti-dust filter, if you’ve allergy sufferers in the house.
An overall excellent option - our personal favourite.
The Honeywell 24L Portable Dehumidifier is an impressive proposition, especially if your have a mid-to-large home with multiple rooms you want to dry out. It’s omni-directional castor wheels make it easy to move around, and its only 14.8kg - around half a metre tall, so you can schlep it from room to room.
With a ‘smart digital humidistat’ the Honeywell automatically senses moisture levels in your room, and then operates to achieve a pre-programmed humidity level.
A great all-rounder, the Honeywell Dehumidifier will draw a whopping 24L of moisture out of air in 24hours. A study shows it reduces the time it take for laundry to dry by 25%, but costs a fraction of the cost of a tumble dryer to run, making it an energy efficient choice for winter.
Great dust filter, too.
Small house or space you want to target? The resonably priced Black + Decker BXEH60002GB is everything you need, advertising itself as best for best for rooms up to 15m².
While it has a modest 2L capacity, that will work perfectly well in a regular-sized bedroom, box room, or home office. It’s running costs are very low and it has an auto switch function, so you can leave it on unattended without fear of racking up the bills or it overflowing.
Light, easy to move, and with an in-built UV air purifying function, you get a reasonable amount of bang for your modest buck. One word of warning, though -it’s not that quiet, so this isn’t one for having in your room as you slumber.