It all started with a notice from National Grid about dehumidifiers. We have one. It’s pretty old, but we need it because otherwise, the basement gets soggy. And smells damp. I hate that smell.

A few years ago, we had to replace all the window air conditioners because they were old, heavy, and grimy … and they weren’t really cooling the place like they should. This year, it’s time to take on the dehumidifier. Not nearly as bad as replacing five or six window air conditioners, but not free, either.

I needed something that would fly lower under the electrical radar.

We have recently become “that family” to which all other neighbors are compared, with the lowest electricity bill in our neighborhood. No one was more shocked than me when they sent me that same message two months in a row. But those days are about to end because as the outside temperature heats up, the window A/C units get installed … and whoopee, those electric bills fly up and away.

Meanwhile, getting the damp smell out of the basement is looming large. A new unit? Okay. But … how big?

None of the units I found myself staring at seemed ready to offer me information about how big an area they could handle. I needed numbers. How big a dehumidifier to dry up a damp basement? The size of a unit is measured by how many pints of water it can suck out of the air. The smallest for an average-sized basement would be 30 pints, the biggest probably 70 pints. If your basement is just a little bit damp, you might get away with a little one. If you have small pools of water on the floor, bigger is better.

I typed my question into Google.

I love Google. You can type anything into it and the answer comes up before you finish the question. Where was this marvel when I was researching papers for school? Come to think of it, I doubt it would have helped me much comparing the writing of Thomas Wolfe to Lawrence Durrell. I don’t think you find that on Google. Yet. Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, I found a couple of sites and eventually, rating our basement of 1350 feet (and only half of it is damp … the other half is bone dry), calculating it as “damp, but not really wet” — which would be discounting drenching rains, hurricanes, or run-off from snow plus a spring rain — I went for the 50 pint. The 70 seemed to be overkill. More would not hurt the basement, but it would use more electricity.

The prices were pretty much standard. Between $170 and $250 for 50 pint model. Frigidaire had the top rating, no matter where I looked. The difference in price was minimal and I have learned to not buy the cheapest appliances. When I do, I wind up buying them again and you don’t save anything when you have to buy the unit twice.

Price: $200 plus tax. Including free shipping.

It took me a surprisingly long time to coördinate the size of the basement — which I know from all the times I’ve refinanced the house — with the “damp level” of the area. This process chewed up my morning. I didn’t even look at Serendipity until I realized the WordPress daily prompt was “measure.” Nothing could be more measured than my morning.

All of which reminded me of why I was so good at technical documentation. When I’m thinking measurements and numbers, my brain locks down.

So, to reiterate, if you have a soggy basement — and so many of us do — maybe you need a newer dehumidifier. If the basement is damp, but you don’t see actual wet spots on the floor — and your basement is in the 1000 to 1600 square foot size, you probably need a 50-pint unit. Especially if you hate that damp basement smell wafting up the stairs. Save yourself the extra effort. Get one of the Frigidaire units. I’m told the wheels work well too, so you can roll it reasonably easily from room to room.  Good to know!

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!


  1. We have a dehumidifier (never even knew the english name). Our laundry room does not have a window and the idea is ro let it run, consuming electricity, until the washing is dry. I have my own system and do not hang damp washing in the laundry room so I do not use this machine. When we had the basement flood we had one running for a month supplied by the flood helping company and had a semi shock when we got the electricity bill. I still have my dehumidifier but do not need it luckily.


    1. We need it from spring until the heat goes on in the fall. Fortunately, they have made them a lot less expensive to run these days than they used to be. This one is an upgrade and should save me a few hundred dollars in power bills. New England — anywhere near the ocean — is very humid. Sometimes, in the summer, it is so humid it feels like there’s no air to breathe. If you don’t either cool or dehumidify, you wind up with mold … and that really is BAD. Very unhealthy.


  2. I have a portable dehumidifier bought about four years ago when we were having a lot of trouble with damp in the front bedrooms. At that time it was hard to find a dehumidifier for sale locally or any information about them. Now there is a lot more information available and we are able to by both the compressor and dessicant models but even taking into account the exchange rate I think they cost a lot more here. Mind you I think most things cost more in Australia. I’m sure one of those big units would chew up a lot of power but if you have damp walls in your house it is something you just have to do. Luckily a new gutter and a good clean with vinegar followed by tea tree oil got rid of the mould and it hasn’t come back. I do agree buying the cheapest model appliance is not always a savings. I prefer to buy a brand name not a “no name” when it comes to appliances.


    1. We live in an area with a lot of water running underground. Wells, rivers, stream, and ponds just about everywhere … and it’s humid, too. So it’s no surprise basements are often damp. They dry up in the winter when the heat is on, but as soon as we defrost, everything gets damp. It’s a LOT less expensive to get a dehumidifier than clean up a mess of black mold. Also, mold can make your home dangerous to live in. Most of the east coast of the U.S. is damp and humid. Move inland and it changes a lot.

      Those units ARE more expensive. One of them looks like the same unit I am getting, though I think mine is smaller. That’s like the prices were in Israel: high and higher.


      1. Tasmania is cooler and damper than South Australia so there are more damp issues but houses here don’t usually have basements so I guess it is a bit less of an issue. I run my portable unit a lot in winter and move it around the house.


  3. In the Southern California desert, summers are hot and dry, so no need for dehumidifiers; air conditioners are a different question, and my electric bill soars in summer too. This month’s bill was a credit of $6.xx — and the bill was paid by the State’s Conservation Credit — a credit paid twice a year to recognize the cost of electricity and to reward those who conserve! That may disappear or become ineffective soon, as So Cal Edison is asking for rate increases on a monothly basis, but it’s nice while it lasts to have two months of electricity paid by the State!


    1. I can’t imagine Massachusetts paying for ANYTHING … except health care. We’re pretty good about that. I suppose it evens out. We pay the same rate for six months, then they adjust it based on whatever you just paid. So we’ve been very good through the winter, so at the end of this six months, they will lower it. But it will be summer, so our usage will go WAY up and then they will raise it in time for winter when we use less than half that amount.

      A lot of things are going to disappear under Trump. You at least live in a very large and presumably prosperous state. Massachusetts has a lot of good will, but we are not a big state and there’s only so far it can go. If they cut off enough programs, it’s going to get very hard for a lot of poor people.


  4. We will suffer mightily under Trump if he gets his way. He has threatened to cut off funding for “Sanctuary Cities,” for which our legislature chose to become a “Sanctuary State.” If we lose Federal funding, any prosperity we have will go out the window — and prosperity here seems to depend on which month you are talking about it. The governor is pushing hard to add 25 cents a gallon gas taxes on top of the already highest-in-the-nation taxes we pay. most of which has been diverted from its original purpose in order to build a bullet train to nowhere! There other examples, but I’ll stop here before I hijack your site!


    1. We are a sanctuary state, too … and a lot smaller and possibly even more dependent on federal money. So we are worrying right alongside you. We are the two bluest states in the country and I think we have every right to be concerned.


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