A portable dehumidifier can consume 160 kilowatt hours per month (kWh) -- that's more than your refrigerator eats up. However, it does burn less energy than the average air conditioner, which tears through about 300 kWh per month. Also, since excessive relative humidity makes us perceive temperature as being higher than it is, keeping your home drier may lead you to reach for the thermostat less, which could result in lower energy consumption overall.
To really save on your utility bills and diminish your carbon footprint, work on maximizing your dehumidifier's efficiency. Don't keep it on all day, set the humidistat at a reasonable level (50 percent rather than 30 percent), and keep your doors and windows closed when it runs. Most dehumidifiers discharge air from the top of the machine, but if yours does not have top-mounted discharge, make sure that it's placed well away from walls and furniture to keep air circulating freely. Keep it away from sources of excessive dust or dirt, since this can very quickly clog the machine. For that matter, be sure to check and clean your dehumidifier's filter regularly -- this will help ensure that it's operating as efficiently as possible.
In addition to saving energy, you also might be able to recycle the water that your dehumidifier collects. The water that shows up in your dehumidifier's bucket is considered greywater. That means it's not suitable for drinking, but can be great for watering houseplants and flowers, since it's less salty than tap water. However, you should check first to see if there are any restrictions on using greywater in your area.
While the benefits of dehumidifier ownership are many, there are some potential downsides, too. For one thing, cost may be an issue. Dehumidifiers can be somewhat pricey -- many models sell for more than $150. Or you may just object to having a bucket of standing water sitting around in your home. No matter what your reservations are, it's worth figuring out if you really need a dehumidifier before you take the plunge and buy one. Read on for some tips that may help you make that decision.