Can You Lower Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Unwanted humidity can cause various problems, like mold spores, musty smells, structural issues, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s important to balance humidity if you hope to increase indoor air quality and home comfort.

The ideal relative humidity level is around 30 to 50 percent. Summer is generally the most challenging time of year to stay inside this range. Luckily, running the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t only cool your home—it also lowers humidity. Here’s details of how this works, coupled with tips to manage indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Removes Humidity

Contrary to popular belief, your air conditioner doesn’t add cool, dry air in your home—it removes heat and humidity. The process requires refrigerant, which stores heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s the process:

  • Indoor air flows through the ductwork and travels over the evaporator coil containing cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant stores heat, and the moisture in the air condenses on the coil.
  • The condensation flows into the condensate pan beneath the evaporator coil and drains away.
  • Cool, dehumidified air blows back into your home.

How to Lower Humidity

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

Ventilate Effectively

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

Wipe Up Standing Water

Wet shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors elevate indoor humidity and could promote mold growth. Wipe up standing water promptly to avoid these problems.

Run a Dehumidifier

If you grapple with high humidity in the summer, look into installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make every room more comfortable. A whole-house model can even run separately from the AC to lower humidity on mild days without using the air conditioner. This method saves you money and prevents that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Adjust the AC Fan to Auto

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

Swap Out the Air Filter Consistently

An old filter traps dust and debris and may harbor mold spores if it becomes wet. This introduces moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC is running. Change the air filter once a month or as advised by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and improve air quality.

Adjust the Fan Speed

Refining the fan speed can be tricky. Higher airflow helps the AC keep up with cooling demand on the hottest days, but this might lead to shorter cycles that block effective dehumidification. Work with an HVAC technician to help you determine the right fan speed for your comfort preferences.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A dirty coil can’t cool and dehumidify efficiently. If your air conditioner is having trouble maintaining the set temperature, get in touch with 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

Low refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to perform its job. Left unchecked, severe issues such as a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure could happen. Only a certified HVAC technician can fix refrigerant leaks and recharge the system as needed, giving you another reason to arrange an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has constant comfort problems and your air conditioner is getting old, it might be time for a replacement. Install a new AC unit with modern features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV provides the exact amount of refrigerant determined by 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 McElroy Service Experts

If you think it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or swap out your AC system, McElroy Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are designed to optimize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To share questions or arrange a visit from one of our experienced heating and cooling technicians, please give us a call today.

chat now widget box