Can You Lower Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can cause multiple problems, such as mold spores, musty odors, structural issues, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s important to manage humidity if you hope to increase indoor air quality and home comfort.

The ideal relative humidity level is around 30 to 50 percent. Summer is generally the hardest 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 reduces humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, coupled with suggestions to adjust 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 takes out heat and humidity. The process requires refrigerant, which absorbs heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s what happens:

  • Indoor air flows through the ductwork and passes over the evaporator coil that contains cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant absorbs heat, and the moisture in the air accumulates on the coil.
  • The condensation falls into the condensate pan below the evaporator coil and drains away.
  • Cooled, dehumidified air flows into your home.

How to Reduce Humidity

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

Ventilate Effectively

Turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. This form of ventilation eliminates humidity at the source to keep these rooms comfortable. You can also open a window when it’s comfortable outside to allow in fresh air.

Mop Up Standing Water

Water on shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors elevate indoor humidity and could promote mold spores. Clean up standing water promptly to avoid these problems.

Install a Dehumidifier

If you grapple with increased humidity in the summer, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make every room more comfortable. A whole-house model can even function independently of the AC to eliminate humidity on milder days without turning on the air conditioner. This method saves you money and avoids that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Flip the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that collects on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and trickle away. If you use the air conditioning fan continuously, the moisture will blow back into your home. That’s why it’s more efficient to set the fan to “auto” so it is only on when the AC compressor switches on. You should be able to adjust this setting easily on your thermostat.

Swap Out the Air Filter Consistently

A clogged filter traps dust and debris and can support mold and mildew if it becomes wet. This sends moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC turns on. Replace the air filter once a month or as recommended by the manufacturer to reduce indoor humidity and enhance air quality.

Tweak 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 could cause shorter cycles that prevent effective dehumidification. Speak 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 well. If your cooling is having trouble maintaining the desired temperature, call our HVAC specialists to tune up your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying performance should improve as a result.

Verify the Refrigerant Charge

Low refrigerant can impair your air conditioner’s ability to do its job. Left unchecked, severe 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, lending you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up.

Exchange Your Air Conditioner

If your home has constant comfort trouble and your air conditioner is getting old, it might be time for a replacement. Choose a new AC system with advanced features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV provides the perfect amount of refrigerant consistent with the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adjusts the fan speed to suit demand. Both features increase cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.

Control Indoor Humidity with Midland Air Service Experts

If you think it’s time to put in a whole-house dehumidifier or swap out your air conditioner, Midland Air Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are structured to optimize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To ask questions or request a visit from one of our certified heating and cooling technicians, please give us a call today.

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