Can You Decrease Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Unwanted humidity can cause various problems, like mold spores, musty odors, structural damage, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s necessary to balance humidity if you want to improve indoor air quality and home comfort.

The ideal relative humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. Summer is generally the most challenging time of year to stick inside this range. Fortunately, turning on the air conditioner can help.

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

How Air Conditioning Removes Humidity

Contrary to what you might think, your air conditioner doesn’t add cool, dry air in your home—it removes 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 all over the evaporator coil containing cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant soaks up heat, and the moisture in the air collects on the coil.
  • The condensation drips into the condensate pan underneath the evaporator coil and drains away.
  • Cooler, dehumidified air blows back into your home.

Ways to Reduce Humidity

Turning on the air conditioner will sometimes be adequate to bring the relative humidity under 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity continues to be a problem in your home, consider these tips.

Ventilate Correctly

Turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. This form of ventilation eliminates humidity at the source to keep these rooms comfortable. You can also open a window when it’s more temperate outside to draw in fresh air.

Clean Up Standing Water

Water on shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors raise indoor humidity and will sometimes stimulate mold and mildew. Dry any standing water promptly to protect against these problems.

Install 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 every room more comfortable. A whole-house model can even run independently of the AC to lower humidity on milder 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 gathers on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and flow away. If you are running the air conditioning fan constantly, the moisture won't be able to leave your home. That’s why it’s more effective to adjust the fan to “auto” so it only runs when the AC compressor switches on. You should be able to change this setting easily on your thermostat.

Change the Air Filter Consistently

An obstructed air filter traps dust and debris and will sometimes support mold growth if it gets wet. This adds more moisture and mold spores into your home each time the AC is running. Change the air filter each month or as recommended by the manufacturer to decrease indoor humidity and improve air quality.

Adjust the Fan Speed

Setting the fan speed can be tricky. High airflow helps the AC meet your cooling demand on the hottest days, but this might result in shorter cycles that minimize the chance of effective dehumidification. Coordinate with an HVAC technician to help you determine the best fan speed for your comfort needs.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A filthy coil can’t cool and dehumidify effectively. If your AC is having trouble reaching the set temperature, contact our HVAC specialists to inspect your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying performance should improve as a result.

Check the Refrigerant Charge

Insufficient refrigerant can impede your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left alone, serious issues like a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure could occur. Only a certified HVAC technician can fix refrigerant leaks and recharge the system as necessary, offering you another reason to request an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has continuous comfort issues and your air conditioner is wearing down, it might be time to replace it. Select a new AC system with innovative features, such as a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV delivers the precise amount of refrigerant based on the air temperature, and a variable blower motor increases or decreases the fan speed to satisfy demand. Both features enhance cooling and dehumidifying performance.

Balance Indoor Humidity with Epperson Service Experts

If you decide it’s time to put in a whole-house dehumidifier or upgrade your air conditioning, Epperson Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are structured to maximize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To share questions or schedule a visit from one of our qualified heating and cooling technicians, please contact us today.

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