Can You Decrease Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

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

The perfect relative humidity level is around 30 to 50 percent. Summer is typically the most challenging time of year to remain in this range. Thankfully, running the air conditioner can help.

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

How Air Conditioning Lowers Humidity

Contrary to what you might think, your air conditioner doesn’t add cool, dry air in your home—it eliminates heat and humidity. The process involves refrigerant, which stores heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s how it works:

  • Indoor air moves through the ductwork and passes over the evaporator coil that contains cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant stores heat, and the moisture in the air accumulates on the coil.
  • The condensation drips into the condensate pan underneath the evaporator coil and drains away from your home.
  • Cooler, dehumidified air flows into your home.

How to Reduce Humidity

Turning on the air conditioner may be enough to lower the relative humidity under 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity remains a problem in your home, try again with these tips.

Ventilate Properly

Use 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 a cooler temperature. You can also open a window when it’s mild outside to draw in fresh air.

Mop Up Standing Water

Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors elevate indoor humidity and will sometimes promote mold and mildew. Clean up standing water promptly to avoid these problems.

Use a Dehumidifier

If you grapple with high humidity in the summer, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier that runs in tandem with your air conditioner to make each room more comfortable. A whole-house unit can even function independently of the AC to eliminate humidity on milder days without running the air conditioner. This technique 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 are running the air conditioning fan continuously, the moisture will blow right back in your home. That’s why it’s more efficient to flip the fan to “auto” so it is only on when the AC compressor switches on. You should be able to adjust this setting easily on your thermostat.

Swap Out the Air Filter Consistently

An obstructed air filter traps dust and debris and can harbor mold and mildew if it becomes wet. This adds more moisture and mold spores into your home each time the AC is running. Change the air filter every month or as recommended by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and enhance air quality.

Fine Tune the Fan Speed

Optimizing the fan speed can be tricky. Higher airflow helps the AC meet your cooling demand on particularly hot days, but this could lead to shorter cycles that block effective dehumidification. Work with an HVAC technician to help you select the best fan speed for your comfort preferences.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

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

Insufficient refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to do its job. Left unchecked, serious issues such as a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure may occur. Only a certified HVAC technician can resolve refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as needed, giving you another reason to schedule an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has constant comfort problems and your air conditioner is wearing down, it may be time to replace it. Choose a new AC unit with innovative features, including a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the exact amount of refrigerant based on the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adapts the fan speed to suit demand. Both features improve cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.

Manage Indoor Humidity with Chief/Bauer Service Experts

If you decide it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or swap out your AC system, Chief/Bauer Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are structured to improve home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To raise questions or request a visit from one of our qualified heating and cooling technicians, please contact us today.

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