Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Unwanted humidity can result in various problems, including mold spores, 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 around 30 to 50 percent. Summer is usually the hardest time of year to stay inside this range. Thankfully, using the air conditioner can help. 

After all, air conditioning doesn’t just cool your home—it also lowers humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, coupled with suggestions 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 eliminates heat and humidity. The process involves refrigerant, which absorbs 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 filled with cold refrigerant. 
  • The refrigerant collects heat, and the moisture in the air collects on the coil. 
  • The condensation flows into the condensate pan underneath the evaporator coil and drains away from your home. 
  • Cool, dehumidified air blows back into your home. 

Tips to Decrease Humidity 

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

Ventilate Properly 

Run 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 cool. You can also open a window when it’s more temperate outside to draw in fresh air. 

Mop Up Standing Water 

Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors elevate indoor humidity and can promote mold spores. Wipe up standing water promptly to protect against these problems. 

Use a Dehumidifier 

If you struggle with increased humidity in the summer, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier that performs in tandem with your air conditioner to make every room more comfortable. A whole-house system can even run independently of the AC to eliminate humidity on mild days without using the air conditioner. This strategy saves you money and prevents that “cool but clammy” feeling. 

Set the AC Fan to Auto 

The condensation that forms on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and flow away. If you run the air conditioning fan continually, the moisture will blow right back in your home. That’s why it’s more efficient to set the fan to “auto” so it is only on when the AC compressor turns on. You should be able to find this setting easily on your thermostat. 

Swap Out the Air Filter on a Regular Basis 

An obstructed air filter traps dust and debris and could harbor mold growth if it gets wet. This adds more moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC turns on. Change the air filter each month or as suggested by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and improve air quality. 

Fine Tune the Fan Speed 

Optimizing the fan speed can be tricky. High airflow helps the AC keep up with cooling demand on particularly hot days, but this might lead to shorter cycles that prevent effective dehumidification. Speak with an HVAC technician to help you determine the ideal fan speed for your comfort needs. 

Clean the Evaporator Coil 

A dirty coil can’t cool and dehumidify well. If your AC is having trouble reaching the preferred temperature, contact 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 

A depleted supply of refrigerant can impede your air conditioner’s ability to perform its job. Left alone, major issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure might happen. Only a qualified HVAC technician can mend refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as needed, giving you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up. 

Exchange Your Air Conditioner 

If your home has consistent comfort trouble and your air conditioner is getting older, it may be time for a replacement. Choose a new AC unit with advanced features, such as a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the perfect 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 performance. 

Manage 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 conditioner, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. Our HVAC services are designed to improve home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To raise questions or schedule a visit from one of our experienced heating and cooling technicians, please contact us today. 

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