Originally, we hadn't thought of purchasing a dehumidifier for our condo here, figuring we'd just use the air-conditioning when the humidity became too oppressive. We'd never needed a dehumidifier in other places we lived and just hadn't given the possibility any thought. But a very smart neighbor who had been living in San Pedro for a couple of years recommended we bring one, so we took note. After some research, Barry realized that we wouldn't be able to keep the A/C cycling on frequently enough to get the humidity to a reasonable level without living in a very frigid condo -- and busting our budget in the process, since electricity (called "current" here) is a lot pricier than back in North Carolina. Since we don't even like overly air-conditioned spaces and didn't want to live in the cold even if the budget allowed, a portable dehumidifier started looking like a very smart option.
When doing our research, the main negatives of using a dehumidifier mentioned by reviewers were the heat and noise the unit generates in use. We figured the noise wouldn't bother us too much, as we've always preferred to sleep with a white-noise machine rather than hear the various things that go bump in the night, including our first Boston Terrier, Pepper, who snored like a truck driver due to her little squashed face, bless her heart. Paisley has more of a snout and is much quieter, but the white-noise habit has persisted. We always turn on the A/C or fan when we stay in hotels to keep the noise from the hall and surrounding rooms down as well.
As for excess heat put off by the unit, that could certainly be a problem since Belize isn't really known for cold temperatures (!!), but we figured we'd give it a try and could certainly switch to air conditioning when it was unbearable. And we didn't plan to use the dehumidifier during the heat of the day anyway, only in the evenings. Since we live oceanfront where there is typically a nice breeze, we prefer to open our windows and let the sea breeze blow through all day long, then close up at night for security reasons. This would be a perfect time to suck the water out of the air and dry the place out. So, it was decided; we'd give a dehumidifier a try.
We determined that a 50-pint unit would be appropriate for our approximately 1000 square foot condo and purchased a portable Energy Star-certified Frigidaire model for $200 in North Carolina last summer. We kept it in the original box and included it in our shipment (on a pallet) to Belize. We figured that wasn't a huge amount to spend if it would keep our clothes, wood, and other items from molding, and keep us feeling a bit drier and more comfortable in our island home.
The unit includes a built-in collection bin for water, or you can attach a hose and run it to any drain. It has wheels for easily moving it around on the tile floor. We have a floor drain in our shower and another in our bathroom, but neither had an electrical outlet close without running the cord in front of the sinks; not very convenient. And having the unit in the bathroom would not have been a good location for it anyway as it needs to be centrally located. Alternatively, we could have put it on the kitchen counter and let it drain into the sink, but it's a fairly heavy unit to lift up and down twice a day, and Barry's back didn't need the extra strain.
So, we chose to put it in the middle of the great room each night, then wheel it over to the wall, out of the way, during the day. And for months, we used only the built-in collection bin and didn't attach a hose. This worked okay; but the bin would often fill up before we were ready to get up in the morning and wake us up with an annoying series of five beeps to alert us of the full bucket. Barry got really tired of this.
Finally, his "MacGyver" side came out, as it always does, given long enough. He'd found a five-gallon utility bucket that washed up in the sea (very well seasoned!) and cut a hole in it. He then cut a short length of hose and attached it to the dehumidifier unit, then through the hole into the bucket, to hold it in place. This worked much better, and we weren't awakened by the annoying alarm beeps, which could not be deactivated.
But it still wasn't perfect. There was a "drip drip drip" sound as the unit ran and water dripped from the hose into the bucket. We could just hear the dripping from our bedroom, and it was annoying. "MacGyver" came to the rescue once again. A plastic ruler inside the bucket allowed the water to run down into the bucket without dripping. Brilliant, right?!
As for the noise issue, that is just as we thought, not a problem at all. The white noise helps to drown out any other noise coming from the condo units around us. The unit does put out some heat and raises the temperature in the great room a degree or two, but our bedroom stays pleasant with just a ceiling fan for now, especially since the humidity gradually falls through the night as we sleep, offsetting any small increase in temperature. As you often hear, "It's not the heat; it's the humidity" (that makes a person feel miserable), and we've found that to be true. Thanks to our dehumidifier, we have not had to use the air-conditioning since October. Then again, we are more heat-tolerant than folks from cooler areas in the US or from Canada. And living here since August has only served to increase this heat tolerance. Typically, the dehumidifier drops the humidity in our condo from the 70-79% range to 50-55%, depending on how we set it. This makes a huge difference in our comfort level as well and also prevents mold.
The only thing we may need to work on is finding a more attractive bucket, since it tends to sit around our condo during the day -- and it definitely doesn't add to the ambiance! Other than that, we're very happy with our decision to buy a dehumidifier and ship it down. It really has been worth every penny we spent.
This morning after our run, pool-down, and breakfast, we were getting ready to head to town on errands when we heard Bernie roll up in the tractor. Fortunately, when you're retired and living on an island, dealing with slight changes or delays in plans is much easier than when you're on a tight schedule in the US and have to go to work each day. So we put our errands on hold until afternoon, and Barry pitched in and helped with the sand moving and raking, while I observed and took photos. The end result was a nice fluffy beach in front of Chico Caribe instead of hard-packed sand and rocks (ouchie on bare feet) from construction. A really nice improvement!
Bernie is an old hand with tractors from his Texas ranch experience
Barry spreading the sand -- so much for lounging in a hammock! :)
The finished product (looking north)
The finished product (looking south)
Barry is a tireless worker -- even interrupted a brief pool break to help a little more!
After all that excitement, we headed to town on our bikes after lunch. In addition to buying some fresh veggies and Belikin beer, we picked up our local checks (or "cheques" as they call them here) at the Belize Bank. We'd ordered these several weeks ago, and they took a bit longer than originally promised, but at least they finally came in. We also placed an order for some "business" cards at Gecko Graphics. In our case (since we're not running a business), these are just personal cards with our contact information and this blog's address to share with people we meet here. We'd spent some time yesterday designing them, which was quite fun, actually. We added some palm trees and a bicycle with a basket graphic to them, to represent our lifestyle here. They are supposed to be ready no later than Friday. Fun!
Finally, we bought Paisley a new red leash at this cute shop as the clasp on the one I'd bought before we even brought her home from the breeder in 2008 had broken a couple of days ago. Cost was $14.50 BZD ($7.25 US), not bad at all.
Still decked out in Independence Day regalia, Pampered Paws is THE place for dog gear on the island (and grooming/boarding besides).
Ugh. Don't you hate it when you write a whole lot of whatever, be it an email or a blog post, hit a key, and it goes "poof"? Well, that just happened to me. It's my own fault as I should have been saving all along. Weebly does not do this automatically, and it's something I am prone to forget when I get on a roll. I was simply removing a caption for a photo, hit the backspace key, and back I went to the previous page, with all the work I'd done on today's blog entry gone. I tried everything, but it's just gone. I guess I should start composing these entries in a separate file that autosaves the text, so at least I wouldn't lose that part. I'll do that from now on, but for today's entry, I'll be brief. I just don't have it in me to rewrite the entire posting.
Barry installed this magnetic doorstop to keep our front door from SLAMMING shut when the breeze is blowing through. Thanks to our Grand Caribe neighbor Kyle for this useful gift!
We had our windowsills tiled today by the good folks at Grand Caribe -- this will prevent the paint getting gouged when the windows are removed for washing. Plus it looks good too!
I rearranged the living area furniture today. Now we have an even better view of the sea, which is rightly the focal point of the room. Here's the old arrangement:
Too much space in the middle of the floor...
Here's the new arrangement:
Better view -- though my photography doesn't really show it!
And now for something completely different...
A delicious veggie pizza we made for dinner -- Barry's crust was amazing!
First off, I have to give Barry credit for the title of this blog post or he'll never forgive me. :-)
A tropical wave came through today, so we awoke to rain, rain, and more rain. Today was a running day for us, and we ended up deciding to go in the rain after all since it was a nice warm rain, and we didn't want to miss out on a beach run when it wasn't blazing hot and sunny. The rain got heavier during our run, and by the time we got back, we were SOAKED to the skin. No photos of this, though they would have been pretty entertaining.
After we peeled off our dripping running clothes, we put on our swimsuits and swam in the rain for awhile, which was very pleasant, actually! Again, no photos. You'll have to take our word for it.
The rest of the day was devoted to projects, as it continued to rain on and off all day. We got two out of three of our window shades installed (bedroom and living area), as well as as some holdbacks for the bedroom curtains. We discovered that we needed these as when we are able to turn off the A/C and open up, the curtains get sucked into the screens, blocking the airflow.
We got stymied on the kitchen window shade as we needed wood spacers on top, and the piece of finished wood Barry found that we could use for this purpose was wet, so we need to wait for it to fully dry out. Here are a few photos of Barry installing the shade in our bedroom:
Tada! All done -- this will keep the bedroom very dark at night as some outdoor lighting shined through the curtains before.
After the window shade project, we reorganized our master closet, and Barry reversed the door on our dryer so it would swing in a more convenient direction.
At some point early in the afternoon, our internet went out. We called the front desk, and finally, around 4:15 pm, it was restored. Whew! Would have hated missing out on having that in the evening. Sounds like they need to take it down again tomorrow to do some more work, so hopefully that will be tomorrow while we're in town -- if it's not pouring!
Here's a photo of another wave of the storm taken right before dinner. Needless to say, we didn't get to eat on the veranda tonight as it was soon raining again.
For dinner we had bean, corn, and cheese tostadas with salsa; Barry's homemade gazpacho, and salad. Delicious!