Monday, May 9, 2011

Two smart things: dehumidifier and timer

Like a lot of renters, I have a basement space. And that means a choice between dampness and poor air quality or running a dehumidifier and eating the electricity costs.

This week, I did two smart things: I cleaned the dehumidifier and bought a timer.

Before going further, in the interests of clarity I should state that I rent the ground floor and basement of a Victorian semi. The basement in question is home to my son's bedroom, my office, plus storage and my little workshop.

Cleaning the dehumidifier
This was easier than I'd expected. One piece of advice: go outside or to a room with a floor drain. Even if you empty the dehumidifier, if it's been running there's likely ice which will melt and make a wet mess. Luckily, my workshop/furnace room has a concrete floor and floor drain.

The main thing to clean out on any dehumidifier is the air filter. On most they are above the water bucket and simply slide out. Oh, by "simply" I mean "with great difficulty." I've never owned a dehumidifier in which the filter slid out easily. This time I took the front housing off to make it easier (just had to remove two screws and unclip it from the main body housing).

A quick rinse under warm water removed about a 3mm-thick buildup of dust that had clogged the air filter. Doubtless this alone will improve the machine's efficiency.

For good measure, I removed the back housing and wiped down the fan blades, which had a good caking of dust on them.

Has my energy efficiency improved? I don't know for sure, but can't see how it can fail to have improved. An added bonus is that the machine's annoying buzzing sound has gone away, making it much quieter. Probably just a factor of screwing everything back in securely.

Buying a timer
Where I live, electricity is priced by when it's used. Between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. it's about half the price it is at other times. This is why I do laundry and run the dishwasher at night. But remembering to turn the dehumidifier on and off was a pain, resulting in high electricity bills or a musty basement.

This week I finally dropped twenty bucks on a simple timer. There are cheaper models that work fine, but this one is a three-pronged timer suited for appliance use. Now the dehumidifier goes on at 9 p.m. and off at 6 a.m. and I no longer have to think about it at all.

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