Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can result in various problems, like mold spores, musty smells, structural problems, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s essential to manage 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 typically the toughest time of year to stay within this range. Luckily, using the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t only cool your home—it also reduces humidity. Here’s details of how this works, coupled with suggestions to balance indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Lowers Humidity

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

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

Ways to Lower Humidity

Using the air conditioner might 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. Detached ventilation lowers humidity at the source to keep these rooms cool. You can also open a window when it’s milder outside to allow in fresh air.

Wipe Up Standing Water

Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors raise indoor humidity and will sometimes encourage mold and mildew. Wipe up standing water promptly to protect against these problems.

Install a Dehumidifier

If you struggle with extreme humidity in the summer, look into 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 independently of the AC to remove humidity on mild days without turning on 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 collects on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and flow away. If you run the air conditioning fan continuously, the moisture will blow right back in your home. That’s why it’s better to adjust the fan to “auto” so it is only on when the AC compressor starts. You should be able to find this setting easily on your thermostat.

Swap Out the Air Filter Regularly

A clogged filter traps dust and debris and will sometimes encourage mold growth if it gets wet. This sends moisture and mold spores into your home any time the AC is running. Change the air filter once a month or as suggested by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and improve air quality.

Fine Tune the Fan Speed

Setting the fan speed can be tricky. Higher airflow helps the AC sustain cooling demand on particularly hot days, but this can cause shorter cycles that prevent effective dehumidification. Coordinate with an HVAC technician to help you choose the best fan speed for your comfort needs.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A filthy coil can’t cool and dehumidify well. If your cooling is having trouble reaching the desired temperature, contact our HVAC specialists to tune up your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying capabilities should improve as a result.

Confirm the Refrigerant Charge

Insufficient refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left alone, severe issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure may develop. Only a qualified HVAC technician can resolve refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as required, giving you another reason to request an AC tune-up.

Exchange Your Air Conditioner

If your home has consistent comfort trouble and your air conditioner is getting old, it could be time to replace it. Install a new AC system with advanced features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV provides the exact amount of refrigerant consistent with the air temperature, and a variable blower motor increases or decreases the fan speed to meet demand. Both features increase cooling and dehumidifying effectiveness.

Control Indoor Humidity with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing

If you believe it’s time to get a whole-house dehumidifier or replace your air conditioning, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. Our HVAC services are structured to optimize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To ask questions or schedule a visit from one of our certified heating and cooling technicians, please contact us today.

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