Many seasonal homeowners rely upon the home air conditioning unit to control the humidity levels in the home while away.  The cost of energy for air conditioning units is expensive.  The lower your temperature the lower your relative humidity (RH) level.  The lower your temperature the higher you’re cost of energy.  Catch 22.  One way to help lower your energy cost and reduce your RH level is with a dehumidifier.

Google, “what is the ideal RH level for my Florida home” you will find that you should maintain RH levels between 45% and 55%.  How do you accomplish this when outdoor humidity levels range from the 40% overnight to 90% and more during the daytime?  

The best option to mitigate high RH is using the air conditioning system in your home.  Ask any HVAC specialist what temperature to set your AC while away and you will likely get this response; it depends on the outside temperature and RH in your area.  Having a home on the Florida coast is a tricky proposition when it comes to high humidity.  Does your home AC always perform as expected?  Probably not.

Your Florida home is usually closed up for the time you are away.  Poor ventilation or no ventilation in rooms such as in bathrooms and underneath cabinets are susceptible to high RH levels.  Here are the top five causes of high RH:

  1. Poor ventilation and moisture removal
  2. Leaking pipes/plumbing
  3. Leaking roofs/windows/doors
  4. Water accumulation at the foundation
  5. Water intrusion from other sources

Consider purchasing a portable dehumidifier if you have signs of high RH in your home.  Dehumidifier’s reduce RH levels and reduce energy costs.  

What size dehumidifier should you consider using?  Use this rule of thumb* as a guide:

       Square footage                              # of pints of moisture removed daily

< 1,500 square feet                                     20-25 pints 

< 3,000 square feet                                    25-35 pints

< 4,500 square feet                                    35-60 pints

For larger homes you may want to consider adding a unit to your AC system.

* Consult with the manufacturers recommendations

Choosing a dehumidifier

There are many options when it comes to dehumidifiers and the one you choose depends on the space in which you plan to use it, as well as the anticipated RH levels.  You should consider a model that you can place on the kitchen counter top that has a drain hose connector that allows you to gravity drain directly into the sink drain.  Check to make sure your model comes with the drain hose or purchase a drain hose separately.  Place the dehumidifier on a dish drain tray as a precaution that will permit any excess moisture to drain to the tray and into the sink.  You will need to make sure that you have a GFCI outlet available as a power source for the dehumidifier (kitchen outlets should be GFCI equipped).  Select a model that restarts automatically if there is a power interruption.  

What should you expect to pay for a portable dehumidifier?

It depends on the make, model, options and manufacturer.  Shop around and look for the best value.  You can expect to pay in the range of $150-$400 depending on your selection.

This article was prepared by Larry Meek, Co-Founder of Carefree Home Watch.  Meek is a Certified Home Watch Reporter and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Home Watch Alliance.  Contact:  239-910-0767, or, email at  Visit our website at for more information.