Air purifiers and dehumidifiers are similar appliances in that they remove the nasties that swirl around the air in homes, but it can be difficult to know which one households should be investing in. To explore dehumidifiers versus air purifiers, Chris Michael, managing director of Meaco has shared what each product does, the pros and cons of both and who would benefit from either appliance, so households can choose the device that’s right for them.
What does a dehumidifier do and how does it work?
According to the expert, a dehumidifier removes moisture from the air preventing issues such as damp, mould and condensation while maintaining a healthy relative humidity level in your home. He said: “Removing excess moisture from the air can make a significant difference to your life. Too much moisture in the air means more likelihood of damp and mould – anyone who has experienced condensation on windows or mould in the bathroom can relate to this. Using a dehumidifier means you can be in complete control of moisture levels, helping to reduce those problems and also giving you a better quality of life.”
He noted that desiccant dehumidifiers (best for cold temperatures) draw air in over a filter which is then passed over an absorbent material. When the material is saturated, a heater in the dehumidifier blows warm dry air across it and the moisture condenses into water, which is then dropped into a collection tank. The warm air is then passed back out of the dehumidifier at a higher temperature than the air that was taken in, so this dehumidifier can also act as a gentle heater.
In a compressor dehumidifier (performs best in temperatures over 16°C) air passes over coils, a heat exchange condenses the moisture in the air, and this is then collected in a tank. This helps to create the dry air needed to combat condensation, mould and damp problems.
What does an air purifier do and how does it work?
When it comes to air purifiers, these are designed to trap tiny particles that are in the air in the home, and push cleaner, filtered air back out. Chris explained: “There are a lot of things floating around in the air you breathe every day in your home, and some of these can trigger physical reactions and exacerbate allergies. An air purifier can remove these particles from the air, push out cleaner air and help improve your breathing environment.”
Who would benefit from having an air purifier?
Those concerned about the quality of the air in their home, it’s worth considering an air purifier, according to the expert. He said: “It will certainly help to reduce the number of unfriendly particles in the air, giving you a fresher, cleaner air environment.
“The air in your home contains a wide range of particles. If you have a pet, there will be dander from fur and skin. There will almost certainly be dust mites, and if you live near a busy road, for example, there will also be particles that come from vehicle pollution.
“You can also be allergic to your own bedroom because of issues such as dust mites, mould spores, pollen or pet dander. If that is the case, then an air purifier can help you create a place of sanctuary free from allergens so that you can sleep better.”
Who would benefit from having a dehumidifier?
The unprecedented cost of living crisis is forcing most households to look for ways to reduce their energy consumption, whether it’s by turning the heating off for longer, turning down the thermostat to a low setting.
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It’s natural that people will hang washing on clothes racks indoors instead of using tumble dryers to save on energy bills. But over time, this will cause damp. Mould growth, condensation and musty smells will become apparent, causing damage to wallpaper, carpets, furniture and windowsills. However, Chris noted that a dehumidifier can resolve these problems.
He said: “Anyone looking to reduce moisture at home without opening windows and turning the heating right up will benefit from a dehumidifier, and there are ways to manage this extra cost too. Dehumidifiers are effective at reducing moisture in the air, drying washing indoors and are a considerably cheaper alternative to run than a tumble dryer.”
Pros and cons of air purifiers and dehumidifiers
The price of these appliances varies, as does the cost to run them, and the warranty length can differ depending on the quality of the machine. This means the benefits and disadvantages of any particular dehumidifier or air purifier can be determined by its performance, features, the overall cost of the machine (both the initial purchase price and its energy consumption costs over its lifetime) and how effective it is at doing the job.
The expert highlighted that it’s important for consumers to understand running costs and warranty lengths. They should compare machines on these factors to be confident that the dehumidifier or air purifier they choose will do the job, is built to last and is as cost-efficient as it can be.
Whether an air purifier will work for allergies depends on what sort of air purifier households buy. Chris said: “To be sure of removing most of the particles from the air, you need to choose a unit that has a HEPA filter. These filters are extremely fine, so can trap smaller particles than general air purifiers.”
It’s worth remembering that there are lots of other things that can trigger an allergy, and that an air purifier may not be the complete solution Britons need. It will, however, give households cleaner, fresher air, remove much of the particle matter that’s in the air and make for a better home environment.
One of the biggest benefits of a dehumidifier is that it is the “quickest way” to dry the air in a home. It’s an easy to operate appliance, where a desired humidity setting can be set. Chris said: “The machine immediately gets to work to meet that target humidity. Many owners of dehumidifiers are surprised when they learn how high the humidity level was in their home, and notice an immediate difference from using one.
“Dehumidifiers are affordable to run, with some costing as little as 5p an hour to run (a dehumidifier that can extract up to 12 litres a day, with a wattage of 151w (0.151 kWh) would cost just 5p an hour based on the October 2022 price of 34p per kWh per hour).
“They help to reduce energy bills because dry air is warmer, so the heating won’t need to work so hard to keep a home warm. Investing in an energy efficient dehumidifier over other similar products on the market can save households up to nearly £150 a year on running costs.”
Research from Meaco in April 2022 after the spring price rate rise found that the Meaco Arete One 20L was £143 a year cheaper to run than its worst performing competitor, based on six hours of use per day over 365 days. If a machine is kept for five years, this totals a saving of £196.25 to £715.
The expert added: “Dehumidifiers are very effective at drying laundry. Not only do they dry laundry quickly, and at a low running cost, but they prevent the excess moisture created by the wet laundry from causing damp, mould and condensation in your home.
“Some dehumidifiers have further energy saving features, such as a dedicated laundry mode where the machine runs for up to six hours, and then switches itself off. Some also use a humidistat which means the dehumidifier switches itself off when the target humidity is reached, and only switches on again if it detects a humidity increase.”
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