Can You Decrease Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can cause many problems, like mold and mildew, musty rooms, structural problems, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s essential to balance humidity if you want to improve 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 remain inside this range. Fortunately, using the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t just 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 increase cool, dry air in your home—it removes heat and humidity. The process requires 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 absorbs heat, and the moisture in the air collects on the coil.
  • The condensation drips into the condensate pan underneath the evaporator coil and drains out of the system.
  • Cooled, dehumidified air flows back into your home.

How to Reduce Humidity

Running the air conditioner might be adequate to bring the relative humidity beneath 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity is still a problem in your home, try again with these tips.

Ventilate Properly

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

Wipe Up Standing Water

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

Install a Dehumidifier

If you grapple with increased humidity in the summer, look into installing a whole-house dehumidifier that runs in tandem with your air conditioner to make your entire home more comfortable. A whole-house unit can even function independently of the AC to remove humidity on more temperate days without running the air conditioner. This method saves you money and avoids that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Adjust the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that forms on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and drip away. If you use the air conditioning fan constantly, the moisture won't be able to leave your home. That’s why it’s better to flip the fan to “auto” so it is only running when the AC compressor switches on. You should be able to find this setting easily on your thermostat.

Change the Air Filter Consistently

An old 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 any time the AC turns on. Exchange the air filter each month or as encouraged by the manufacturer to decrease indoor humidity and improve air quality.

Fine Tune the Fan Speed

Setting the fan speed can be tricky. High airflow helps the AC meet your cooling demand on particularly hot days, but this might lead to shorter cycles that block effective dehumidification. Speak with an HVAC technician to help you determine the ideal fan speed for your comfort preferences.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

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

Check the Refrigerant Charge

Low refrigerant can impede your air conditioner’s ability to perform its job. Left ignored, major issues like a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure could happen. Only a certified HVAC technician can resolve refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as necessary, lending you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up.

Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

If your home has constant comfort issues and your air conditioner is wearing down, it may be time for a replacement. Select a new AC system with innovative features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the precise amount of refrigerant based on the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adjusts the fan speed to meet demand. Both features enhance cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.

Manage Indoor Humidity with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning

If you decide it’s time to put in a whole-house dehumidifier or upgrade your air conditioner, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help. Our HVAC services are structured to improve home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To share questions or schedule a visit from one of our certified heating and cooling technicians, please call us today.

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