Can You Decrease Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can create multiple problems, like mold spores, musty smells, structural damage, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s important to balance humidity if you hope to increase indoor air quality and home comfort.

The recommended relative humidity level is between 30 to 50 percent. Summer is typically the hardest time of year to stick within this range. Fortunately, turning on the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t just cool your home—it also reduces humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, coupled with recommendations to balance indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Eliminates Humidity

Contrary to popular belief, your air conditioner doesn’t increase cool, dry air in your home—it takes out heat and humidity. The process involves refrigerant, which stores heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s how it works:

  • Indoor air flows through the ductwork and passes over the evaporator coil that contains cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant soaks up heat, and the moisture in the air collects on the coil.
  • The condensation drips into the condensate pan below the evaporator coil and drains away.
  • Cooled, dehumidified air flows into your home.

Ways to Decrease Humidity

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

Ventilate Effectively

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

Mop Up Standing Water

Wet shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors elevate indoor humidity and will sometimes encourage mold and mildew. Wipe up standing water promptly to prevent these problems.

Install 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 each room more comfortable. A whole-house system can even function separately from the AC to eliminate humidity on more temperate days without using the air conditioner. This approach saves you money and doesn't leave you with that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Set the AC Fan to Auto

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

Swap Out the Air Filter Regularly

An old filter traps dust and debris and can support mold spores if it becomes wet. This sends moisture and mold spores into your home any time the AC is running. Change the air filter once a month or as advised by the manufacturer to reduce indoor humidity and increase air quality.

Fine Tune the Fan Speed

Optimizing the fan speed can be tricky. Higher airflow helps the AC meet your cooling demand on scorching summer days, but this might result in shorter cycles that prevent effective dehumidification. Speak with an HVAC technician to help you choose the ideal fan speed for your comfort requirements.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

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

Verify the Refrigerant Charge

Insufficient refrigerant can impair your air conditioner’s ability to do its job. Left unchecked, major issues like a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure might occur. Only a certified HVAC technician can fix refrigerant leaks and recharge the system as required, lending you another reason to request an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has consistent comfort trouble and your air conditioner is wearing down, it may be time to look for a new one. Pick a new AC system with modern features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV provides the perfect amount of refrigerant based on the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adjusts the fan speed to satisfy demand. Both features reinforce cooling and dehumidifying performance.

Control Indoor Humidity with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning

If you decide it’s time to put in a whole-house dehumidifier or replace your AC system, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help. Our HVAC services are tailored to maximize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To raise questions or schedule a visit from one of our certified heating and cooling technicians, please contact us today.

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