Dehumidifiers are often necessary to use after a flood or leak. They can also make a huge difference in how comfortable you feel during the summer. But running a dehumidifier isn’t exactly cheap.
Compared to many appliances in the home, dehumidifiers draw a considerable amount of energy. This is because using these units effectively often means leaving them on for long periods of time. But, if you compare it to an AC unit, dehumidifiers use considerably less electricity.
For this reason, the question, “Do dehumidifiers use a lot of electricity?” is a little more complicated than you might think.
In this article, we’ll look at exactly how much electricity the average dehumidifier uses and how this compares to common household appliances. We’ll also give you some great tips for lowering your electricity consumption when using a dehumidifier and provide our recommendations for the most energy-efficient units available.
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How Much Energy Does a Dehumidifier Use?
A quick Amazon search reveals that most dehumidifiers range between 200 to 1,000 watts. The average portable dehumidifier is around 400 watts.
This equates to 0.4 kilowatts of energy used in one hour (0.4kWh). If the unit is left on to cycle 24 hours per day, the average portable dehumidifier will use about 288kWh per month.
This number would be much less if you only used your dehumidifier while you were home. Figuring a use of 8 hours per day, the average unit would use about 96 kWh per month.
Cost-wise, these rates equate to about $14 to $43 added to the average American’s electric bill per month.
Info: Choosing an ENERGY STAR certified appliance uses less energy. According to EnergyStar.org, the average efficient portable dehumidifier uses 10 to 25% less energy than non-ENERGY STAR portable devices.
Monthly Energy Use of a Dehumidifier Based on Power Rating
|Dehumidifier Type||Minimal Daily Use (8 hours)||All Day Use (24 hours)|
|High Power Usage||240kWh / $34* per month||720kWh / $102* per month|
|Average Power Usage||96kWh / $14* per month||288kWh / $41* per month|
|Energy Star Rated||52kWh/ $8* per month||216kWh / $31* per month|
Dehumidifier Energy Use vs Other Appliances
$43 extra per month is not nothing. Considering the average American’s electric bill is around $115, dehumidifier use could easily represent up to 36% of a person’s total bill.
That’s a big chunk of your energy costs, but a dehumidifier is not the only money-hungry appliance out there.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), that designation goes to air conditioning, which can easily use 1450 kWh per month. A portable unit doesn’t perform much better, using just over 1,000 kWh per month.
The second biggest energy drain in the average home is the electric water heater. The water heater in a four-person home, on average, will use 310 kWh of electricity per month.
The average dehumidifier fits in somewhere between a water heater and the refrigerator, which uses about 205 kWh per month.
That means that dehumidifiers typically use more energy than your dryer, range, dishwasher, and all the lighting in your house combined. When you look at it this way, I think it’s fair to say that dehumidifiers use a lot of electricity.
|Appliance type||kWh per month||Average cost to run|
|Water Heater (home with 4 occupants)||310||$46|
|Lighting (4 bedroom home)||50||$7|
How to Save Energy When Using a Dehumidifier
One nice thing about portable dehumidifier units compared to a lot of appliances in your house is that you have some control over how much energy it consumes. You can’t turn your fridge on and off to save electricity, but you can unplug your dehumidifier when you don’t need it.
In fact, there are a lot of simple things you can do to lower the energy costs associated with your dehumidifier. Here are five tips guaranteed to save you money.
Learn more: How To Use a Dehumidifier Effectively
1. Use the Right Sized Unit
Using an overly powerful unit in a small room won’t make you more comfortable, but it will use a lot more energy to bring the humidity level down to where you want it.
Similarly, a small unit in a large room will have to run much longer to achieve the same humidity level compared to one that’s a better fit for the space. It will use less power per minute, but these savings will be offset by how long it has to run to get that level down.
Note: When shopping for a dehumidifier, be sure to look for one that’s rated for the same sized space you plan to use it in. You’ll also need to consider how much air moves between that room, the rest of the house, and the outdoors, as well as the average humidity level and temperature of the space.
All of these factors play into how hard the unit will need to work to bring humidity levels down. The harder the job, the more powerful the unit needs to be to efficiently dehumidify the space.
To learn more about the many factors that go into choosing the right size dehumidifier for your house, check out this article.
2. Set Your Target Level Appropriately
Most portable dehumidifiers allow you to set a target humidity level. These units will run until that level is achieved and then shut off automatically.
(If your dehumidifier doesn’t have this function, get a new one! This saves a ton of energy all by itself.)
To reduce how long your dehumidifier runs at a time, set this target level a touch higher.
The American Lung Association recommends keeping humidity levels in the home under 50% to reduce mold growth and dust mite activity. Most people agree that levels between 30 and 50% are optimal for overall comfort.
So, instead of setting your target level for 30%, set it for 45%. This is low enough to get the space down below that 50% mark without wasting extra energy for a lower humidity level that won’t feel that much different anyway.
Note: Once your desired humidity level is achieved, don’t change the target. It takes more energy to reduce humidity levels than it does to maintain a constant level all day.
3. Unplug It When It’s Not In Use
Of course, there will be times when you don’t need your dehumidifier running.
If you use the unit simply to make your home more comfortable, then anytime you are out of the house for a prolonged period, you can turn the unit off. Similarly, if you get a nice sunny, dry day, then turning off the unit and opening the windows is likely to provide more relief.
Anytime your dehumidifier isn’t needed, you should unplug it.
These appliances are notorious for drawing power even when completely shut down. This won’t equate to a lot of savings over the course of a few hours, but if you’re going to be gone for the weekend or longer, that unplugged time will really add up.
4. Keep the Filters and Coils Clean
Some of the energy used by dehumidifiers goes to running the fan to pull air through the filter and into the unit. If the filter is dirty, less air moves through with each pass. This leads to your unit having to run longer to move the same amount of air it would if the filter were clean.
Most portable dehumidifiers have washable filters that can be quickly rinsed to restore optimal airflow.
The bulk of the energy these units draw goes to cooling the condensate coils that pull moisture from the air. Any kind of buildup on these coils acts as insulation, which keeps the cold from penetrating the outer surface and makes them less effective at turning humidity into water that can be captured.
Cleaning your coils is even more important for energy efficiency than cleaning the filter.
To learn about the best products for cleaning coils, check out our article, The Best Cleaners for AC Coils. And to learn how to clean your dehumidifier coils, watch the video below.
5. Buy an Energy Efficient Unit
Of course, all of these steps will only go so far if the dehumidifier you have is inefficient, to begin with.
The efficiency of a dehumidifier is measured by the number of liters of water it pulls from the air for every 1 kWh of energy spent. This is known as the Integrated Energy Factor, or IEF.
The most efficient portable units currently on the market have an IEF of 1.95. Some central units have an even higher IEF rating. This means that if you have a high need for a dehumidifier and have the means to install a highly efficient central system, doing so will save you money in the long run.
Info: Any dehumidifier that pulls less than 1.3 liters of moisture from the air for every kilowatt hour of energy spent is considered to have less than average efficiency.
The Most Energy Efficient Dehumidifiers
If you’re in the market for a new humidifier or considering replacing your old unit after reading the information above, we’ve got you covered.
These are three of the most efficient portable dehumidifiers currently on the market.
- IEF Rating – 1.9 L/kWh
- Size – 22, 35, and 50 pint models available
- Coverage Area – Up to 4,500 sq ft
The impressively energy-efficient dehumidifier line from hOmeLabs comes in three separate sizes for use in small and large spaces. Each model comes with a high-capacity water tank for longer continuous runtimes. The 50L also comes with an optional pump for continuous draining in any setting.
We love these dehumidifiers not just for their epic efficiency, but for their many features. These include a comfort mode that changes the target humidity automatically based on temperature, multiple timer functions, and a long 2.5-year warranty.
Another superstar in the category of energy-efficient dehumidifiers is this line of TOSOT products. Like the hOmeLabs models, these are all Energy Star Rated and carry an impressive IEF rating of 1.9 L/kWh.
These also come in a range of sizes from the low capacity 22-pint to the high capacity 50-pint. This largest model is available with or without a pump for continuous use.
The TOSOT units don’t have quite as much functionality as our top choice, but they do feature three fan speeds, a 2 to 4-hour timer/delay, and a programmable target mode.
Learn more about the TOSOT dehumidifier line here.
If you’re after something for a slightly smaller space, the Danby line of dehumidifiers has two great choices. The 20-pint option covers up to 1,500 square feet while the 30-pint option covers up to 2,500 square feet. Both come with a high 1.9 L/kWh IEF rating.
One thing we love about these units is that they have wheels for easy maneuvering. They don’t come with a pump but can be used with a gravity hose for continuous draining.
Like our top two choices, these feature a target level setting, continuous run mode, and a timer. One thing that very much sets them apart from most dehumidifiers is that they’re rated to run in temperatures as low as 41 degrees. That’s impressive considering most units stop operating at temperatures below 60 degrees.
Learn more about these great Danby products here.