Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

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

The ideal relative humidity level is between 30 to 50 percent. Summer is usually the hardest time of year to stay within this range. Luckily, running the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t only cool your home—it also decreases humidity. Here’s info about how this works, along with recommendations to manage indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Lowers Humidity

Contrary to popular belief, your air conditioner doesn’t add cool, dry air in your home—it takes out heat and humidity. The process requires 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 containing cold refrigerant.
    • The refrigerant stores heat, and the moisture in the air accumulates on the coil.
    • The condensation flows into the condensate pan underneath the evaporator coil and drains out of the system.
    • Cooled, dehumidified air flows back into your home.

How to Lower Humidity

Running the air conditioner might be adequate to bring the relative humidity beneath 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity is still a problem in your home, try these tips.

Ventilate Correctly

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

Clean Up Standing Water

Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors increase indoor humidity and may encourage mold spores. Dry any standing water promptly to prevent these problems.

Use a Dehumidifier

If you dislike extreme humidity in the summer, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier that performs in tandem with your air conditioner to make each room more comfortable. A whole-house system can even run independently of the AC to lower humidity on more temperate days without turning on the air conditioner. This technique saves you money and prevents that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Flip the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that gathers on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and flow away. If you are running the air conditioning fan continuously, the moisture will blow back into your home. That’s why it’s more effective 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.

Replace the Air Filter Consistently

An old filter traps dust and debris and will sometimes harbor mold and mildew if it gets wet. This adds more moisture and mold spores into your home any time the AC starts. Change the air filter every month or as encouraged by the manufacturer to decrease indoor humidity and enhance air quality.

Tweak the Fan Speed

Refining the fan speed can be tricky. High airflow helps the AC meet your cooling demand on particularly hot days, but this may cause shorter cycles that prevent effective dehumidification. Work with an HVAC technician to help you select the ideal fan speed for your comfort requirements.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A grimy coil can’t cool and dehumidify well. If your air conditioner is having trouble maintaining 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.

Confirm the Refrigerant Charge

A depleted supply of refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to perform its job. Left unchecked, serious issues like a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure could occur. Only a skilled HVAC technician can mend refrigerant leaks and replenish the system as required, giving you another reason to schedule an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has consistent comfort problems and your air conditioner is getting old, it could be time to look for a new one. Install a new AC system 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 meet demand. Both features enhance cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.

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

If you decide it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or replace your AC system, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. Our HVAC services are designed to maximize 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 call us today.

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