Can You Decrease Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Unwanted humidity can cause many problems, like mold spores, musty odors, structural issues, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s important to balance humidity if you want to increase indoor air quality and home comfort.

The perfect relative humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. Summer is usually the most challenging time of year to stick inside this range. Fortunately, turning on the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t solely cool your home—it also decreases humidity. Here’s info about how this works, coupled with recommendations to adjust indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Removes Humidity

Contrary to what you might think, your air conditioner doesn’t put in cool, dry air in your home—it removes heat and humidity. The process requires refrigerant, which stores heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s how it works:

  • Indoor air flows through the ductwork and passes over the evaporator coil containing cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant soaks up heat, and the moisture in the air accumulates on the coil.
  • The condensation falls into the condensate pan beneath the evaporator coil and drains out of the system.
  • Cooler, dehumidified air flows into your home.

How to Reduce Humidity

Turning on the air conditioner might be enough to push the relative humidity under 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity remains a problem in your home, consider these tips.

Ventilate Properly

Turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. Detached ventilation removes 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.

Wipe Up Standing Water

Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors raise indoor humidity and may encourage mold and mildew. Dry any standing water promptly to protect against these problems.

Use a Dehumidifier

If you dislike increased humidity in the summer, think about installing a whole-house dehumidifier that runs in tandem with your air conditioner to make each room more comfortable. A whole-house model can even operate separately from the AC to lower 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.

Flip the AC Fan to Auto

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

Swap Out the Air Filter on a Regular Basis

An old filter traps dust and debris and will sometimes encourage mold and mildew if it gets wet. This sends moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC turns on. Change the air filter once a month or as encouraged by the manufacturer to reduce indoor humidity and enhance air quality.

Adjust the Fan Speed

Optimizing the fan speed can be tricky. Strong airflow helps the AC sustain cooling demand on the hottest days, but this could lead to shorter cycles that prevent effective dehumidification. Coordinate with an HVAC technician to help you determine the right fan speed for your comfort needs.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A filthy coil can’t cool and dehumidify efficiently. If your air conditioner is having trouble sustaining the desired temperature, contact our HVAC specialists to tune up 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 impede your air conditioner’s ability to perform its job. Left unchecked, major issues such as a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure might occur. Only a qualified HVAC technician can resolve refrigerant leaks and recharge the system as needed, offering you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has continuous comfort problems and your air conditioner is wearing down, it could be time to look for a new one. Install a new AC system with advanced features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the perfect amount of refrigerant based on the air temperature, and a variable blower motor increases or decreases the fan speed to satisfy demand. Both features improve cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.

Manage Indoor Humidity with Peitz Service Experts

If you think it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or swap out your AC system, Peitz 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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