Dehumidifier Standards Help Make Summer a Little Less Sticky

Credit: DOE

With the official start of summer just a week away, it’s a good time to be thinking about tips to keep your home cool while keeping your energy bills under control. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has been busy lately working on updating the standards for various types of cooling equipment. Just today, the agency formally published a final rule for dehumidifiers and a proposed rule for portable air conditioners.

DOE today also published a final energy efficiency standard for America’s 2 billion-plus battery chargers that keep our cell phones, laptops, and other electronics and appliances working, which my colleague Pierre Delforge blogged about extensively a few weeks ago.

Although DOE had earlier issued pre-publication notices on all three of these rules, they do not become part of the formal rulemaking process until published in the Federal Register, which is what occurred today.


How dehumidifiers keep us cool

Staying comfortable in your home is about more than temperature, it’s also about the humidity in the air. The updated energy efficiency standard for dehumidifiers, which was published today in the Federal Register and goes into effect in 2019, will ensure that the 13 percent of U.S. homeowners that use dehumidifiers save energy and money as they remove moisture from their homes. The new standards will save the average homeowner between $100 and $140 in energy costs over the life of the product. The energy savings for portable dehumidifiers, which make up about 95 percent of the dehumidifier market, will pay for themselves in less than a year in many cases.

Currently, dehumidifiers that just meet the existing efficiency standard use as much energy as two refrigerators every year. While dehumidifiers may not be common in less-humid areas of the country, the nationwide energy savings from this updated standard is significant. Efficient dehumidifiers that meet the updated standard will save 30 billion kilowatt-hours over the next 30 years of sales. That's equivalent to one year's worth of electricity consumption by 3 million U.S. households! The corresponding carbon pollution reduction is equivalent to the annual emissions from about 4 million cars. 

The new standard for dehumidifiers is based on an updated test procedure, which accounts for the fact that dehumidifiers are often found in spaces like basements. Basements or crawlspaces often have a lower ambient air temperature than other areas of the home, which was not previously taken into consideration when testing dehumidifiers. The test procedure update means that products will now be tested at a more appropriate air temperature, which encourages manufacturers to optimize product design for the conditions where dehumidifiers are actually used.

Credit: DOE

Portable air conditioners

Until now, portable air conditioners have never been subject to an efficiency standard, and their performance has fallen behind other types of cooling equipment. Consumer Reports considers this equipment to be the “cooling choice of last resort” because they’re most often used in situations where central air conditioners aren’t present and window units can’t be used and, in some cases, may even heat the room more. The new standard for portable air conditioners will benefit customers who replace their old portable air conditioners: residential customers can expect to save about $144 on their cooling bills over the lifetime of the product, and commercial customers will save almost $300. 

Other ways to stay comfortable

In addition to portable air conditioners and dehumidifiers, there are lots of other ways to keep your home cool during the hot summer months, by using a ceiling fan, investing in a programmable thermostat, or putting your curtains to use in the hottest part of the day. To learn more, don’t miss our list of summer cooling tips here.

These new and updated standards formally published today will contribute to the President Obama’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 3 billion tons cumulatively by 2030 with efficiency standards finalized during his administration. That’s a future we think is pretty cool!

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