Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Doubles The Electric Bill, But Dries The Basement: My Old Maytag M7DH65B2A Dehumidifier!

The Good: Adequately dehumidifies, Easy to use controls
The Bad: Not as energy efficient as I had hoped
The Basics: This is a dehumidifier; it takes water out of the air. It works. It costs a lot more to run than most appliances.

So, I bought a dehumidifier this winter. I recently moved into a house of my own and I have been puttering around doing many many projects. Over the winter, I insulated the attic to keep the heat in. That was fun. I also spent some time in the crawlspace under the house. That was irksome. The crawlspace is accessible from one room in the basement and it runs under half the house. When we moved in, the crawlspace was basically an unpleasant dirt floor under the house covered in rocks and garbage. Well, after insulating it, I learned that the lack of a vapor barrier and humidity could destroy my house over a few years. "Screw that!" I said. I cleaned the crawlspace out (no more rocks or garbage), lay down multi-ply plastic as a vapor barrier, and set out to buy a dehumidifier.

I'll be honest; I didn't do much shopping around for the dehumidifier. I went out to Home Depot and two other stores and found myself returning to Home Depot because they were the only one that had a dehumidifier that was Energy Star compliant. I make a big deal about conserving energy, so I figured an Energy Star approved dehumidifier was the way to go. That meant I ended up getting the Maytag dehumidifier.

I am baffled by the Maytag M7DH65B2A dehumidifier for only one reason; I cannot figure out how it is Energy Star compliant. I mean, I understand dehumidifiers use a lot of energy. That was a given when I first started looking for the device. However, the month after I got this dehumidifier, my electric bill almost doubled. There were no other factors that changed between December and January in my house (our heat is gas), so the leap from approximately 315 kW a month power usage to 645 kW a month made me gag when I got my bill. The usage is down some now (507 this month), but still a bit higher than I would have hoped.

To be fair, the dehumidifier has a huge array of settings and I keep it on the rather demanding 35% humidity. That means, whenever humidity in the crawlspace gets above 35%, it comes on. And it works. There is a very noticeable difference in the air whenever I crawl into the crawlspace to empty the collection container. Moreover, the faint odor in the crawlspace has disappeared.

This dehumidifier is worth the money, though I would love to see one developed that uses a little less energy. The control panel on the top of the machine is very easy to comprehend and use. There are clear indicators for the power being on, the speed of the fan and the status of the water collecting container. As well, the humidity level can be adjusted up or down using very simple controls and a clear read-out for what your desired humidity is versus the current humidity in the room. Add to that, there is a simple button to toggle the display between the current humidity and the current temperature. This last function is especially handy as the manual informs us that the ideal (if utterly impractical for my purposes) temperature to run the dehumidifier in is 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Emptying the container is very easy as well. Every few days, I check in on my dehumidifier to see that the orange light is blinking (indicating the bucket is filled) and I crawl into the crawlspace. The bucket slides easily out of the bottom of the dehumidifier and it has its own handle that folds out of it, making it easy to walk (or crawl) the container out to dispose of the water.

In the process of writing this review, I discovered the heretofore unnoticed (by me) air filter that the manual recommends one clean every month. After six months of running in a formerly dusty and dirty environment, I was quite surprised to find the air filter was completely clean. For good measure, I cleaned it anyway and that was easy enough.

I wish there was more to say about this sturdy little dehumidifier, but it's a dehumidifier, not a culturally-significant piece of art. It does its job; it dehumidifies. I just wish it did it for a little less money.

For other appliance reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Whirlpool Gold 50 Dehumidifier
Dave Lennox Signature Collection Brentwood SP EPA-approved Wood-burning Fireplace
GE GSD2100NOOWW Dishwasher


For other home and garden product reviews, please check out my Home And Garden Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013, 2004 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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