Can You Lower Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can result in various problems, including mold growth, musty odors, structural damage, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s essential to balance humidity if you want to enhance indoor air quality and home comfort.

The recommended relative humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. Summer is typically the toughest time of year to stay in this range. Luckily, using the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t just cool your home—it also lowers humidity. Here’s a look at how this works, along with suggestions to balance 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 eliminates heat and humidity. The process requires 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 filled with cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant stores heat, and the moisture in the air accumulates on the coil.
  • The condensation falls into the condensate pan below the evaporator coil and drains away.
  • Cool, dehumidified air blows back into your home.

How to Reduce Humidity

Turning on the air conditioner will sometimes be adequate to push 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

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

Mop Up Standing Water

Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors elevate indoor humidity and may stimulate mold growth. Dry any standing water promptly to prevent 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 your entire home more comfortable. A whole-house unit can even function separately from the AC to eliminate humidity on more temperate days without running the air conditioner. This strategy 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 build up and flow away. If you run the air conditioning fan continually, the moisture won't be able to leave your home. That’s why it’s more efficient to flip the fan to “auto” so it is only on when the AC compressor starts. You should be able to change this setting easily on your thermostat.

Replace the Air Filter Regularly

An obstructed air filter traps dust and debris and will sometimes encourage mold growth if it gets wet. This sends moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC is running. Change the air filter once a month or as encouraged by the manufacturer to reduce indoor humidity and enhance air quality.

Adjust the Fan Speed

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

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A dirty coil can’t cool and dehumidify efficiently. If your AC is having trouble sustaining the desired temperature, get in touch with our HVAC specialists to inspect your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying performance should improve as a result.

Verify the Refrigerant Charge

A depleted supply of refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left unchecked, serious issues such as a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure could occur. Only a qualified HVAC technician can resolve refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as needed, giving you another reason to request an AC tune-up.

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If your home has constant comfort trouble and your air conditioner is getting old, it may be time to replace it. Choose a new AC unit with innovative features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV offers the perfect amount of refrigerant consistent with the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adapts the fan speed to suit demand. Both features reinforce cooling and dehumidifying performance.

Control Indoor Humidity with Climate Control Service Experts

If you decide it’s time to get a whole-house dehumidifier or swap out your AC system, Climate Control Service Experts can help. Our HVAC services are structured to improve home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To ask questions or schedule a visit from one of our certified heating and cooling technicians, please call us today.

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