Can You Lower Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can result in various problems, such as mold growth, musty smells, structural issues, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s important to manage humidity if you hope to enhance indoor air quality and home comfort.

The ideal relative humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. Summer is generally the hardest time of year to stick within this range. Fortunately, running the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t just cool your home—it also decreases humidity. Here’s details of how this works, along with ideas to manage indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Lowers Humidity

Contrary to what you might think, 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 how it works:

  • Indoor air moves through the ductwork and travels over the evaporator coil that contains cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant collects 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.
  • Cool, dehumidified air flows into your home.

Ways to Lower Humidity

Turning on the air conditioner may be adequate to push the relative humidity below 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity continues to be a problem in your home, try again with these tips.

Ventilate Properly

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

Wipe Up Standing Water

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

Run a Dehumidifier

If you dislike high humidity in the summer, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make your entire home more comfortable. A whole-house model can even function independently of the AC to eliminate humidity on mild days without turning on the air conditioner. This method saves you money and doesn't leave you with that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Set 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 will blow back into your home. That’s why it’s better to set the fan to “auto” so it is only on when the AC compressor switches on. You should be able to find this setting easily on your thermostat.

Change the Air Filter Consistently

An obstructed air filter traps dust and debris and can harbor mold and mildew if it gets wet. This sends moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC is running. Replace the air filter each month or as encouraged by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and improve air quality.

Adjust the Fan Speed

Refining the fan speed can be tricky. Strong airflow helps the AC keep up with cooling demand on particularly hot days, but this may cause shorter cycles that prevent effective dehumidification. Work with an HVAC technician to help you choose 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 reaching the set temperature, get in touch with 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 hinder your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left unchecked, major issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure can happen. Only a certified HVAC technician can mend refrigerant leaks and replenish the system as needed, giving you another reason to schedule an AC tune-up.

Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

If your home has consistent comfort trouble and your air conditioner is getting old, it may be time to look for a new one. Choose a new AC unit with advanced features, such as a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV provides the precise amount of refrigerant determined by the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adapts the fan speed to suit demand. Both features increase cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.

Balance Indoor Humidity with A-PLUS Service Experts

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

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