What motivates Minnesota homeowners to use residential dehumidifiers?
Although standalone dehumidifiers are one of the largest plug loads in Minnesota single-family homes, there is little information available about the when, where, how, and why of dehumidifier use. To better understand stand-alone dehumidifiers, their operation, and homeowner perspectives on moisture control, humidity levels, and comfort, CEE researchers surveyed and visited homeowners around the state who used dehumidifiers.
Of 1,493 respondents living in single-family Minnesota homes, 56 percent operate at least one stand-alone dehumidifier. Usage varies throughout the state — from 45 percent in the north east and north west to 53 percent in the south west and 59 percent in the south east. Non-homeowners are also about 25 percent less likely to operate dehumidifiers than homeowners, and there is no distinction among income levels.
Responses were obtained from 137 zip codes and 58 counties:
Forty-eight percent of the respondents live in urban areas, 39 percent live in rural areas, and 13 percent live in a hybrid environment.
Respondents receive electric service from 87 unique utilities. Forty-three percent of respondents are provided electric service via an Investor Owned Utility (IOU), 33 percent via a Municipal Utility (Muni), and 24 percent via a Cooperative Utility (Co-ops).
Among IOU customers, 84 percent receive service from Xcel Energy, 10 percent from Minnesota Power, and 6 percent from Otter Tail Power.
About 11 different reasons were offered to describe the purpose of dehumidification:
About 28 percent of responses referenced general moisture concerns.
Twenty-four percent referenced maintaining a comfortable environment.
Twenty-one percent referenced avoiding microbial growth, such as mold or mildew.
Nineteen percent referenced eliminating unpleasant or musty odors.
Seven percent referenced protecting furniture or equipment from excess moisture, and two percent referenced building maintenance.
About four percent referenced other reasons, including saving energy, allergies, and general health concerns.
Respondents were also asked how their dehumidifiers are operated. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed have a digital control set at a constant relative humidity setting. Twenty percent have an analog dial set at a constant position. Twenty percent have a digital control with a relative humidity setting adjusted to their need, and eight percent have an analog dial with a dial position adjusted to their need.
These survey results provide detailed information about why stand-alone dehumidifiers are used in Minnesota single-family homes, and can be used to develop resources that support energy efficiency in our state.
Humidification Retrofits Deliver Residential Furnace Efficiency
Field Notes Research Project Updates: Summer 2018
Project Page: Field Study of Standalone Dehumidification Efficiency Opportunities