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It's not the heat that gets you, it's the humidity!

Dehumidifiers heat and humidity

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Anyone who has endured a Central Texas summer will be the first to tell you: "it's not the sizzling temperatures that you should worry about, but the sweltering humidity. Moist, hot, sticky weather is not only uncomfortable, but can also prove dangerous - our bodies feel hotter because we are hotter.

A dehumidifier system not only increases everyone's comfort level, but may actually help reduce the utility bill and even help cut down on allergens. Whether installed during a home building or remodeling project, retrofitted to an already existing home or even installed in a specific area of the home, a dehumidifier can work wonders by keeping everyone cool and comfy as the humidity begins to climb.

It's a hidden comfort system that no one seems to talk about in our climate. There are more expensive systems that are installed in the homes of many houses that are tied to the furnace and HVAC system. These dehumidifier systems are on a separate box, and run on about eight amps of electricity. They work regardless of the temperature, so when the system's humidistat says it's reading a higher level of humidity in the house than it was set for, it begins to run.

One dehumldifier unit can take care of a whole house, and can work with homes that have two AC systems. Popular dehumidifiers that have been installed are the Ultra-Aire 90H, a stand-alone unit made by Therma-Stor* LLC in our new homes with very good results for homeowners.

But there are other, less expensive options for those who want to take advantage of the cooling comfort provided by a dehumidifier system. One solution is to purchase an inexpensive dehumidifier system off the shelf online and retrofit it to an already existing home.

"The down-and-dirty method is to buy a plug-in unit, which I've done for my own home, that will cost about $300. It's not as efficient as the built-in systems and requires a little more work on your part, as the more expensive systems are self-contained and these will require you to dump out the water the dehumidifier collects regularly, but it still does a really good job."

No matter which dehumidifier system is used, the cost savings are realized by not running the HVAC system as much because the dehumidifier system is taking moisture out of the air and homeowners are not setting their HVAC thermistats at extremely low levels to cool off.

On the days where the outside temperature is 83 degrees and the humidity is at 80 percent, you don't have to keep turning your AC thermostat down to 72 degrees just to be comfortable. You can keep your thermostat at at 76, or 77 and set the dehumidifier to 45 percent relative humidity. We are pretty much comfortable with humidity levels between 40 and 50 percent. If the humidity levels go above that, we're pretiy uncomfortable. You can be very comfortable in your home at 77 degrees if it's not humid in your home. With the dehumidifier running at about eight amps and the HVAC system using 30 amps or more, you can easily see the huge cost savings of opting to run the dehumidifier instead of your AC."

Although the general opinion is that a properly sited HVAC system will do a good job of cooling a home or building, a dehumidifier system can create a comfort tone that will allow you to run the HVAC system less. If you have a good dehumidificr system, you could raise the temperature level in your home and be comfortable because it would allow your body's cooling system to work better.

When you sweat a little, the drier air quickly evaporates the moisture and effectively cools your body. Everyone has experienced days when the temperature is 80 degrees, and the humidity is 80 percent. It's just sticky, and the air conditioner doesn't help much unless you turn the AC thermostat way down. In these sorts of conditions, a dehumidifier saves you from having to do that saving you money and increasing comfort.

A dehumidifier system would be especially helpful in certain arms of the home that tend to be very moist. A dehumidifier would also be useful if you have places within your home that generate a lot of moisture, such as the bathroom, or if you have a hot tub in the house.

In fact, specific rooms that experienced moisture problems were the inspiration behind "DewStop", a patent pending technology that makes eliminating moisture from a room as easy as turning on a fan switch. It makes your fan a smart fan, and works either manually or with a humidity and temperature sensor. The proprietary software can track your environment by the condensation, so when you're taking a shower, it can turn itself on. The system runs for about 20 minutes and then goes through a drying cycle.

There are other benefits to installing a dehumidifying system specific to the bath or other areas of the home that tend to become moist. It's always good to dry out the bathroom or any other area that tends to collect moisture on a regular basis. There are all kinds of bacterial and allergen problems that can happen in moist areas, not to mention the problems you find with mold, paint and grout.

Why do dehumidifiers work so welll to keep us cool, even when the temperature soars?

The body's natural cooling system of sweating only works if the sweat can evaporate from the skin. When the air itself is full of moisture, sweat doesn't evaporate as quickly, and the body has to work harder to cool off. As the body continues to heat up, it loses hydration and important chemicals it needs.

The heart and blood vessels are strained as blood is sent pumping to the body's external surface, and less to the muscles, brain and other organs. The result could be impaired movement, impaired mental function, fainting, heat exhaustion, or in extreme eases, heatstroke.

Weather reports constantly relay the heat index, but what does that mean in real terms? The higher the humidity, the higher the actual temperature feels to the body: For example, a temperature of 90 degrees with a relative humidity of 30 percent feels like 90 degrees. But, if the humidity were to incirase to 65 percent, suddenly the tempetature outside feels like 103 degtees as the body works harder to cool itself down.