Can You Lower Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can cause many problems, including mold growth, musty smells, structural issues, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s essential to manage 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 usually the hardest time of year to remain in this range. Fortunately, using the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t just cool your home—it also lowers humidity. Here’s details of 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 increase cool, dry air in your home—it removes heat and humidity. The process necessitates refrigerant, which absorbs heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s how it works:

  • Indoor air rushes through the ductwork and travels over the evaporator coil that contains cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant collects heat, and the moisture in the air condenses on the coil.
  • The condensation falls into the condensate pan beneath the evaporator coil and drains away.
  • Cooler, dehumidified air flows into your home.

How to Lower Humidity

Running the air conditioner will sometimes be enough to bring the relative humidity below 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity remains a problem in your home, try these tips.

Ventilate Effectively

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

Clean Up Standing Water

Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors raise indoor humidity and will sometimes encourage mold and mildew. Dry any standing water promptly to avoid these problems.

Run a Dehumidifier

If you grapple with increased humidity in the summer, think about installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make every room more comfortable. A whole-house unit can even operate independently of the AC to lower humidity on more temperate 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 gathers on the evaporator coil needs time to build up and drip away. If you run the air conditioning fan continually, the moisture will blow right back in your home. That’s why it’s better to adjust the fan to “auto” so it is only running when the AC compressor starts. You should be able to change this setting easily on your thermostat.

Swap Out the Air Filter Consistently

An obstructed air filter traps dust and debris and may harbor mold and mildew if it gets wet. This introduces moisture and mold spores into your home any time the AC starts. Replace the air filter each month or as suggested by the manufacturer to decrease indoor humidity and improve air quality.

Adjust the Fan Speed

Setting the fan speed can be tricky. Higher airflow helps the AC meet your cooling demand on scorching summer days, but this might cause shorter cycles that block effective dehumidification. Coordinate with an HVAC technician to help you select the ideal fan speed for your comfort preferences.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A grimy coil can’t cool and dehumidify efficiently. If your cooling is having trouble maintaining the set temperature, contact our HVAC specialists to tune up your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying performance should improve as a result.

Check the Refrigerant Charge

A depleted supply of refrigerant can impair your air conditioner’s ability to do its job. Left ignored, serious issues like a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure could happen. Only a certified HVAC technician can fix refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as necessary, offering you another reason to request an AC tune-up.

Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

If your home has consistent comfort issues and your air conditioner is getting old, it could be time for a replacement. Install a new AC unit with advanced features, including a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV delivers the exact amount of refrigerant determined by the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adjusts the fan speed to meet demand. Both features increase cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.

Manage Indoor Humidity with Donelson Air Service Experts

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

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