Can You Decrease Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

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

The ideal relative humidity level is between 30 to 50 percent. Summer is usually the toughest time of year to remain within this range. Fortunately, running the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t solely cool your home—it also reduces humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, along with recommendations to control indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Eliminates Humidity

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

  • Indoor air moves through the ductwork and travels over the evaporator coil that contains cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant stores heat, and the moisture in the air collects on the coil.
  • The condensation flows into the condensate pan below the evaporator coil and drains away.
  • Cool, dehumidified air flows back into your home.

Ways to Reduce Humidity

Turning on the air conditioner may be sufficient to bring the relative humidity under 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity remains a problem in your home, try these tips.

Ventilate Effectively

Run the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. Spot ventilation removes humidity at the source to keep these rooms comfortable. You can also open a window when it’s comfortable outside to let in fresh air.

Wipe Up Standing Water

Wet shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors raise indoor humidity and can encourage mold growth. Wipe up standing water promptly to protect against these problems.

Use a Dehumidifier

If you grapple with high humidity in the summer, think about installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make each room more comfortable. A whole-house system can even function separately from the AC to lower humidity on more temperate days without running the air conditioner. This approach saves you money and avoids that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Flip the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that forms on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and flow away. If you are running the air conditioning fan constantly, the moisture will blow right back in your home. That’s why it’s more efficient to flip the fan to “auto” so it is only running when the AC compressor turns on. You should be able to find this setting easily on your thermostat.

Replace the Air Filter Consistently

An obstructed air filter traps dust and debris and could harbor mold and mildew if it gets wet. This adds more moisture and mold spores into your home each time the AC turns on. Change the air filter each month or as encouraged by the manufacturer to reduce indoor humidity and improve air quality.

Adjust the Fan Speed

Optimizing the fan speed can be tricky. High airflow helps the AC meet your cooling demand on scorching summer days, but this might cause shorter cycles that minimize the chance of effective dehumidification. Coordinate with an HVAC technician to help you choose the right fan speed for your comfort needs.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A dirty coil can’t cool and dehumidify efficiently. If your AC is having trouble reaching the set temperature, contact our HVAC specialists to inspect your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying efficiency should improve as a result.

Verify the Refrigerant Charge

A depleted supply of refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to do its job. Left ignored, serious issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure may occur. Only a skilled HVAC technician can mend refrigerant leaks and recharge the system as needed, lending you another reason to schedule an AC tune-up.

Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

If your home has continuous comfort problems and your air conditioner is wearing down, it might be time to look for a new one. Select a new AC system with innovative features, such as a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the precise amount of refrigerant determined by the air temperature, and a variable blower motor increases or decreases the fan speed to satisfy demand. Both features enhance cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.

Manage Indoor Humidity with Pardee Service Experts

If you decide it’s time to put in a whole-house dehumidifier or swap out your air conditioning, Pardee Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are designed to improve home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To share questions or arrange a visit from one of our experienced heating and cooling technicians, please contact us today.

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