A collage of two images, of equal size. The left side shows a heating vent with a woman's hand feeling the warmth coming from the vent. The right side shows a hygrometer with a misted window behind. The image illustrates the title of the post, "Does a Heater Also Dehumidify?

People often think heaters are responsible for making things feel dry so they would answer a firm “yes” to the question, “does a heater also dehumidify.”

However, there needs to be more clarity in some quarters about whether or not this is true.

Many homeowners insist that they need a dehumidifier in addition to their heater, even though it seems to take moisture out of the air.

So, who’s right?

Before you make any changes and remove your dehumidifier or consider getting one, it’s crucial to establish a few key points of how these appliances work together with heaters.

If your home suffers from condensation or other signs that humidity levels are too high, consider reading our article, “Lower Humidity in 14 Ways (With No Dehumidifier Required).”

A heater doesn’t dehumidify when it’s on because it adjusts the temperature without reducing the ambient moisture.

However, heaters can draw cold, dry air in from outside the building. When this happens, the humidity goes down.

In this article, you’ll learn why a heater doesn’t dehumidify, whether or not heaters can be used with dehumidifiers, and how you can stop your heater from drying the air.

So read on to learn more about this nuanced subject.

Can a Heater Also Dehumidify?

A homeowner sitting on a couch points a remote control up towards a mini-split air handler on the wall above her head
Some HVAC units have dehumidification features built in. However, a heater alone will not directly remove moisture from the air. Dry air might be drawn in from the outside when the heater is in operation, which could have the overall effect of lowering humidity in the home.

A heater can’t be used as a dehumidifier because it doesn’t directly impact that humidity.

However, there are a few reasons why some people notice their heaters lower the moisture in the air.

If you use your heater and it always seems like the air is dry, there could be an indirect correlation between these HVAC units.

Here’s why some heaters affect the humidity while others don’t:

  • According to Priority Rental, heaters don’t have anything to remove moisture from the air. They affect the temperature but can’t add or remove moisture from the air.
  • Heaters can bring dry air from outside, especially during winter. Most HVAC systems pull air from outside of the house. When the air is dry outside and humid inside, the net effect of running the heater will be to balance and reduce the humidity. When you turn on the heater, it’ll feel like the house is dry.
  • Hotter temperatures can hold more moisture, which means it can raise the humidity. You might’ve noticed that summer days are more humid than winter days. This is due to warmer air’s ability to hold more moisture. When you allow your home’s temperature to increase, you’ll likely notice that it’s a bit more humid.
  • Some heating systems have built-in hygrometers and dehumidifiers. If your HVAC system has a hygrometer linked to a dehumidifier, you can set it to alter the humidity. It’s capable of making the air more humid during the winter and less humid during the summer.

Although your heater isn’t the same as a dehumidifier, many homes have multiple HVAC units to control the temperature and humidity.

If you have these appliances, read on to learn whether or not you can heat and dehumidify your house simultaneously.

Can You Use a Heater and a Dehumidifier at the Same Time?

A picture of a heater, side by side with a dehumidifier and a "plus sign" in the middle.
Running a heater and dehumidifier together is possible but might not be necessary if cool, dry air is drawn in from the outside. Doing this could even result in your home becoming too dry.

You can use a heater and a dehumidifier at the same time. You have two options: a whole-house dehumidifier with central control or portable dehumidifiers.

Portable dehumidifiers will let you reduce moisture in parts of your home where moisture collects most often.

We recommend monitoring the humidity to ensure it doesn’t get too low.

Making a room feel hot and dry can quickly lead to dehydration and, in extreme circumstances, can even cause your wooden furniture to crack.

Make sure the humidity is within your comfort range. You can target areas for dehumidification by placing portable dehumidifiers in bathrooms, garages, crawl spaces, and other most humid areas.

The good news is that Dry All Around shows how most modern dehumidifiers maintain ambient humidity at healthy levels.

Rather than stripping the air of every last drop of water, they balance the humidity to make it healthy and comfortable.

Do Heaters Remove Moisture From the Air?

A Direct Vent Heater on the floor against the wall in a home
While heaters don’t do anything directly to remove moisture from the air, they can contribute to lowering the humidity levels as air circulates and exchanges with drier air from outside.

Heaters don’t remove moisture from the air but draw dry air in from the outside, which helps lower the humidity.

Running your heater will help to circulate air within the home, drawing fresh air in from the outside and reducing the humidity.

Service Champions explain that air leaks can cause dryness, especially when they’re worsened by airflow from a heater.

Regular HVAC maintenance can prevent your heater from removing or adding moisture to the air.

Excessive dryness or too much moisture can cause damage throughout the structure of your home.

Does it always seem like your home dries out when you turn on the heater?

Contrary to how it might seem, heaters and dehumidifiers work entirely differently.

Your heater won’t drop the humidity without external input (drawing in dry air from the outside).

In the next section, we’ll learn how to handle reduced humidity caused by your heater pulling in dry air from the outside.

How to Stop a Heater From Drying the Air

A woman holding her hand to her face, with cracks overlain to indicate dry skin.
If the humidity in your home gets too low, this can lead to health problems such as dry skin.

To stop a heater from drying the air, try these suggestions:

  1. Circulate the indoor air rather than bringing air from outside. Colder winter air can be pretty dry. If your home heating system pulls in air from outside, you’ll undoubtedly reduce the internal humidity.
    When the heater is on, you might feel like the HVAC system is the cause of the reduced humidity.
  2. Close the windows when you use your heater. Since the humidity of the outside air can be lower in the winter, keep the windows closed. Circulate the air inside your home and change the filter every three to six months.
    Cleaning and replacing the filter will prevent moisture from collecting in the filter medium and ducts, causing mold problems.
  3. Make sure your humidifier isn’t turned on. Some humidifiers automatically activate, even if you don’t know it’s happening. Check your HVAC system’s settings or monitor the thermostat.
    You should be able to turn off the humidifier. Be careful; too much humidity with excessive heat can lead to mold throughout the building.
  4. Close the vents closest to where you sleep to prevent throat dryness. Airflow is a common cause of throat irritation, especially when sleeping. If it seems like your throat and skin are always dry when you wake up, it might not be due to the reduced humidity. Instead, it could be the angle of the vents.
  5. Use an air quality monitor to check the ambient humidity and air particle density. You can monitor the air quality if you’re unsure if you have humidity problems. Reduce the humidity with a built-in dehumidifier or use multiple portable dehumidifiers.
    Remember to drain the water tank, if your dehumidifier has one, to keep it from backing up.

Final Thoughts

Heaters are not dehumidifiers, but they can cause indoor air to become dry in some scenarios.

Remember to check the room’s humidity and keep it between 35% to 45% where possible.

Not having enough humidity can cause skin and respiratory problems, especially when it’s hot inside.

Not sure whether your home is too humid or not? Check out our article, “Home Humidity – The 3 Best Affordable DIY Tools To Measure It“.

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