Can You Lower Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Unwanted humidity can create many problems, including mold spores, musty rooms, structural issues, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s necessary to balance humidity if you want to enhance indoor air quality and home comfort.

The perfect relative humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. Summer is usually the hardest time of year to remain within this range. Thankfully, using 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 ideas to control indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Eliminates Humidity

Contrary to what you might think, your air conditioner doesn’t increase cool, dry air in your home—it eliminates heat and humidity. The process involves refrigerant, which absorbs heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s what happens:

  • Indoor air moves through the ductwork and all over the evaporator coil that contains cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant soaks up heat, and the moisture in the air accumulates on the coil.
  • The condensation flows into the condensate pan under the evaporator coil and drains away.
  • Cooled, dehumidified air flows back into your home.

Tips to Lower Humidity

Running the air conditioner might be sufficient to push the relative humidity below 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity continues to be a problem in your home, try again with these tips.

Ventilate Correctly

Use the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. Detached ventilation lowers humidity at the source to keep these rooms more comfortable. You can also open a window when it’s mild outside to allow in fresh air.

Mop Up Standing Water

Water on shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors raise indoor humidity and may encourage mold growth. Wipe up standing water promptly to prevent these problems.

Run a Dehumidifier

If you struggle with high humidity in the summer, look into 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 run separately from the AC to remove humidity on more temperate days without running the air conditioner. This technique saves you money and doesn't leave you with that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Adjust the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that collects on the evaporator coil needs time to build up and drip away. If you use the air conditioning fan continually, the moisture will blow back into your home. That’s why it’s more effective to adjust the fan to “auto” so it only runs when the AC compressor turns 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 will sometimes harbor mold and mildew if it gets wet. This sends moisture and mold spores into your home any time the AC starts. Exchange the air filter each month or as recommended 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 sustain cooling demand on scorching summer days, but this can lead to shorter cycles that block effective dehumidification. Work with an HVAC technician to help you choose the ideal fan speed for your comfort preferences.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A filthy coil can’t cool and dehumidify effectively. If your AC is having trouble maintaining the desired temperature, call our HVAC specialists to maintain your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying performance should improve as a result.

Check the Refrigerant Charge

A depleted supply of refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to perform its job. Left alone, major issues such as a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure could happen. Only a certified HVAC technician can resolve refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as needed, lending you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up.

Exchange Your Air Conditioner

If your home has consistent comfort issues and your air conditioner is getting old, it may be time to look for a new one. Select a new AC unit with modern features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV provides the exact amount of refrigerant determined by the air temperature, and a variable blower motor increases or decreases the fan speed to satisfy demand. Both features improve cooling and dehumidifying effectiveness.

Manage Indoor Humidity with Neal Harris Service Experts

If you decide it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or upgrade your air conditioner, Neal Harris Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are designed to optimize 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 give us a call today.

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