Can You Lower Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can cause many problems, such as mold and mildew, musty smells, structural issues, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s essential to manage humidity if you plan to improve indoor air quality and home comfort.

The recommended relative humidity level is between 30 to 50 percent. Summer is generally the most challenging time of year to stay within this range. Luckily, running the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t solely cool your home—it also decreases humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, along with recommendations to manage 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 takes out heat and humidity. The process requires refrigerant, which soaks up heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s what happens:

  • Indoor air moves through the ductwork and travels over the evaporator coil filled with cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant stores heat, and the moisture in the air condenses on the coil.
  • The condensation flows into the condensate pan beneath the evaporator coil and drains away from your home.
  • Cooled, dehumidified air blows back into your home.

Ways to Lower Humidity

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

Ventilate Properly

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 a cooler temperature. You can also open a window when it’s more temperate outside to allow in fresh air.

Mop Up Standing Water

Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors raise indoor humidity and may stimulate mold spores. Dry any standing water promptly to avoid these problems.

Run a Dehumidifier

If you dislike extreme humidity in the summer, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make your entire home more comfortable. A whole-house model can even function independently of the AC to remove humidity on mild days without turning on 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 build up and flow away. If you are running the air conditioning fan constantly, the moisture won't be able to leave your home. That’s why it’s more effective to set 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 obstructed air filter traps dust and debris and could harbor mold and mildew if it gets wet. This introduces moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC is running. Replace the air filter each 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 meet your cooling demand on scorching summer days, but this might result in shorter cycles that minimize the chance of effective dehumidification. Work with an HVAC technician to help you choose the ideal fan speed for your comfort requirements.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A dirty coil can’t cool and dehumidify effectively. If your air conditioner is having trouble sustaining the preferred temperature, contact our HVAC specialists to inspect your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying performance should improve as a result.

Check the Refrigerant Charge

Insufficient refrigerant can impair your air conditioner’s ability to perform its job. Left ignored, major issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure could occur. Only a certified HVAC technician can mend refrigerant leaks and replenish the system as required, offering you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has continuous comfort trouble and your air conditioner is getting old, it could be time to replace it. Install a new AC system with modern features, including a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the exact amount of refrigerant determined by the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adjusts the fan speed to satisfy demand. Both features improve cooling and dehumidifying performance.

Balance Indoor Humidity with Stevenson Service Experts

If you think it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or upgrade your air conditioner, Stevenson Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are tailored 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 call us today.

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