Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Unwanted humidity can result in many problems, including mold and mildew, musty smells, structural issues, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s important to balance humidity if you hope to improve indoor air quality and home comfort.

The recommended relative humidity level is between 30 to 50 percent. Summer is typically the toughest time of year to stick inside this range. Thankfully, using the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t solely cool your home—it also decreases humidity. Here’s details of how this works, alongside with tips to balance indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Removes Humidity

Contrary to popular belief, your air conditioner doesn’t add cool, dry air in your home—it eliminates heat and humidity. The process necessitates refrigerant, which stores heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s what happens:

  • Indoor air moves through the ductwork and passes over the evaporator coil that contains cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant soaks up heat, and the moisture in the air collects on the coil.
  • The condensation drips into the condensate pan below the evaporator coil and drains away from your home.
  • Cooler, dehumidified air flows back into your home.

Tips to Lower Humidity

Running the air conditioner may be sufficient to bring the relative humidity beneath 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity is still a problem in your home, consider these tips.

Ventilate Correctly

Turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. This form of ventilation lowers humidity at the source to keep these rooms a cooler temperature. You can also open a window when it’s mild outside to let in fresh air.

Mop Up Standing Water

Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors elevate indoor humidity and could promote mold spores. Clean up standing water promptly to avoid these problems.

Use a Dehumidifier

If you grapple with extreme humidity in the summer, look into installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make every room more comfortable. A whole-house unit can even operate independently of the AC to eliminate humidity on milder days without using the air conditioner. This approach saves you money and doesn't leave you with that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Flip the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that gathers on the evaporator coil needs time to build up and flow away. If you use the air conditioning fan continually, the moisture won't be able to leave your home. That’s why it’s better to adjust the fan to “auto” so it is only running when the AC compressor switches on. You should be able to adjust this setting easily on your thermostat.

Replace the Air Filter Regularly

A clogged filter traps dust and debris and could harbor mold and mildew if it gets wet. This introduces moisture and mold spores into your home each time the AC turns on. Replace the air filter once a month or as advised by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and enhance air quality.

Tweak the Fan Speed

Optimizing the fan speed can be tricky. High airflow helps the AC keep up with cooling demand on the hottest days, but this could lead to shorter cycles that prevent effective dehumidification. Work with an HVAC technician to help you determine the best fan speed for your comfort preferences.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A dirty coil can’t cool and dehumidify efficiently. If your AC is having trouble maintaining the desired temperature, get in touch with our HVAC specialists to maintain your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying capabilities should improve as a result.

Verify the Refrigerant Charge

A depleted supply of refrigerant can impede your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left unchecked, major issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure may develop. Only a skilled HVAC technician can resolve refrigerant leaks and replenish the system as needed, giving you another reason to request an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has consistent comfort issues and your air conditioner is getting older, it may be time to look for a new one. Choose a new AC system with innovative features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV delivers the precise amount of refrigerant based on the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adjusts the fan speed to suit demand. Both features increase cooling and dehumidifying performance.

Balance Indoor Humidity with Stevenson Service Experts

If you think it’s time to get a whole-house dehumidifier or upgrade your AC system, Stevenson Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are tailored to improve home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To raise questions or arrange a visit from one of our experienced heating and cooling technicians, please call us today.

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