Absorbing Alternatives

If you have a very small space in need of dehumidification (such as a closet or small crawlspace) and you don't own a dehumidifier, try using some silica gel. This moisture-absorbing substance is often available at home improvement stores and pet stores. It's also reusable -- just heat the crystals using sunlight or your oven. Some silica gel products even have color-changing properties that will let you know when they need to be heated up again.

Types of Dehumidifiers

While refrigerative dehumidifiers may be the most well-known, desiccant dehumidifiers also do a great job of keeping a space nice and dry. True to their name, these dehumidifiers pull in air and pass it over a desiccant material such as silica gel. Desiccants naturally absorb moisture -- that's why you'll find little packets of silica gel in new shoes or electronic goods. Because desiccant dehumidifiers don't need to cool air before dehumidifying it, this technology is really ideal for sub-zero conditions.

Since the technology behind them is so simple and effective, dehumidifiers mostly vary in size and strength. Portable dehumidifiers are the kind that you usually see in the home improvement aisle; they're often plastic, relatively cheap and very lightweight. They're designed to be most effective in smaller spaces like a bedroom or kitchen. Restoration humidifiers are heavy-duty machines that can withstand harsh conditions -- they're usually used to repair heavy water damage caused by hurricanes or other natural disasters.

The largest models on the market, whole-house dehumidifiers, usually augment a home's existing heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system. You'll have to hire a professional to install one of those. Some manufacturers have also created specially sized crawlspace dehumidifiers to address the humidity in storage areas and powerful dehumidifiers that are targeted toward the high humidity created by some indoor pools and spas.

Whichever kind of dehumidifier you choose, it may help make your home a little greener. Read on to find out how.