Can You Decrease Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Excess humidity can cause many problems, such as mold and mildew, musty rooms, structural problems, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s essential to balance humidity if you plan to increase indoor air quality and home comfort.

The perfect relative humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. Summer is generally the most challenging time of year to stick inside this range. Thankfully, using the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t only cool your home—it also decreases humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, coupled with suggestions to adjust 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 removes 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 containing cold refrigerant.
    • The refrigerant soaks up heat, and the moisture in the air condenses on the coil.
    • The condensation flows into the condensate pan under the evaporator coil and drains away from your home.
    • Cooler, dehumidified air flows back into your home.

How to Reduce Humidity

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

Ventilate Properly

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

Wipe Up Standing Water

Wet shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors increase indoor humidity and may stimulate mold and mildew. Wipe up standing water promptly to prevent these problems.

Run a Dehumidifier

If you grapple with high humidity in the summer, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make each room more comfortable. A whole-house unit can even operate separately from the AC to lower humidity on more temperate days without turning on the air conditioner. This strategy 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 use the air conditioning fan constantly, the moisture won’t be able to leave your home. That’s why it’s more effective to flip 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.

Replace the Air Filter Regularly

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

Adjust the Fan Speed

Setting the fan speed can be tricky. Strong airflow helps the AC sustain cooling demand on particularly hot days, but this can lead to shorter cycles that minimize the chance of effective dehumidification. Coordinate with an HVAC technician to help you select the right fan speed for your comfort requirements.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

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

Check the Refrigerant Charge

Insufficient refrigerant can impair your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left alone, serious issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure may occur. Only a certified HVAC technician can mend refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as needed, offering you another reason to schedule an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has constant comfort issues and your air conditioner is getting older, it may be time to replace it. Install a new AC unit with modern features, such as a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV delivers the exact amount of refrigerant consistent with the air temperature, and a variable blower motor increases or decreases the fan speed to suit demand. Both features enhance cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.

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

If you decide it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or upgrade your air conditioning, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing 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 certified heating and cooling technicians, please give us a call today.

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