Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Unwanted humidity can result in multiple problems, including mold and mildew, musty smells, structural damage, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s important to balance humidity if you hope to increase indoor air quality and home comfort.

The perfect relative humidity level is between 30 to 50 percent. Summer is generally the toughest time of year to stay in this range. Thankfully, using the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t only cool your home—it also reduces humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, coupled with recommendations to manage 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 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 rushes through the ductwork and travels over the evaporator coil containing cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant stores heat, and the moisture in the air collects on the coil.
  • The condensation drips into the condensate pan under the evaporator coil and drains out of the system.
  • Cooled, dehumidified air blows back into your home.

Tips to Reduce Humidity

Running the air conditioner may be enough to push 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 Properly

Run 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 comfortable. You can also open a window when it’s comfortable outside to let in fresh air.

Clean Up Standing Water

Wet shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors raise indoor humidity and can stimulate mold spores. Clean up standing water promptly to avoid these problems.

Use a Dehumidifier

If you struggle with high humidity in the summer, look into installing a whole-house dehumidifier that runs in tandem with your air conditioner to make every room more comfortable. A whole-house model can even function separately from the AC to remove humidity on mild days without using the air conditioner. This approach saves you money and doesn't leave you with that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Set the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that gathers on the evaporator coil needs time to build up and drip away. If you are running the air conditioning fan continuously, the moisture will blow right back in your home. That’s why it’s more effective to flip the fan to “auto” so it only runs when the AC compressor starts. You should be able to change this setting easily on your thermostat.

Swap Out the Air Filter Consistently

An old filter traps dust and debris and may encourage mold growth if it becomes wet. This adds more moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC turns on. Replace the air filter every month or as encouraged by the manufacturer to reduce indoor humidity and increase air quality.

Tweak the Fan Speed

Optimizing the fan speed can be tricky. High airflow helps the AC keep up with cooling demand on scorching summer days, but this may result in shorter cycles that minimize the chance of effective dehumidification. Work with an HVAC technician to help you select the right fan speed for your comfort preferences.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

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

Verify the Refrigerant Charge

A depleted supply of refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to do its job. Left unchecked, major issues such as a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure can happen. Only a certified HVAC technician can fix refrigerant leaks and recharge the system as needed, giving you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up.

Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

If your home has continuous comfort trouble and your air conditioner is getting older, it could be time for a replacement. Pick a new AC unit with modern features, including a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV delivers the precise amount of refrigerant consistent with the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adjusts the fan speed to satisfy demand. Both features increase cooling and dehumidifying performance.

Control Indoor Humidity with Comfortech Service Experts

If you believe it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or replace your air conditioner, Comfortech Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are designed to improve home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To share questions or request a visit from one of our certified heating and cooling technicians, please give us a call today.

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