Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can create many problems, such as mold spores, musty odors, structural problems, 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 ideal relative humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. Summer is generally the most challenging time of year to remain in this range. Luckily, using the air conditioner can help.

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

How Air Conditioning Lowers Humidity

Contrary to popular belief, your air conditioner doesn’t put in cool, dry air in your home—it eliminates heat and humidity. The process involves refrigerant, which soaks up heat and moisture effectively from the indoor air. Here’s what happens:

  • Indoor air flows through the ductwork and all over the evaporator coil filled with cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant absorbs heat, and the moisture in the air condenses on the coil.
  • The condensation flows into the condensate pan below the evaporator coil and drains out of the system.
  • Cooler, dehumidified air flows back into your home.

Ways to Decrease Humidity

Running the air conditioner will sometimes be sufficient to lower the relative humidity under 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity is still 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 lowers humidity at the source to keep these rooms cool. You can also open a window when it’s more temperate outside to draw in fresh air.

Mop Up Standing Water

Water on shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors increase indoor humidity and will sometimes encourage mold spores. Dry any standing water promptly to avoid these problems.

Install a Dehumidifier

If you grapple with extreme humidity in the summer, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier that runs in tandem with your air conditioner to make your entire home more comfortable. A whole-house system can even operate independently of the AC to eliminate humidity on more temperate days without running the air conditioner. This approach 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 use the air conditioning fan constantly, the moisture will blow right back in your home. That’s why it’s better to adjust the fan to “auto” so it is only on when the AC compressor turns on. You should be able to adjust this setting easily on your thermostat.

Replace the Air Filter Regularly

An old filter traps dust and debris and can encourage mold growth if it gets wet. This sends moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC turns on. Change the air filter once a month or as suggested by the manufacturer to decrease 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 the hottest days, but this may lead to shorter cycles that minimize the chance of effective dehumidification. Coordinate with an HVAC technician to help you select the right fan speed for your comfort preferences.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

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

Confirm the Refrigerant Charge

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

Exchange Your Air Conditioner

If your home has consistent comfort issues and your air conditioner is getting older, it could be time for a replacement. Select a new AC unit with modern features, including a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV provides the precise amount of refrigerant consistent with the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adapts the fan speed to meet demand. Both features improve cooling and dehumidifying performance.

Balance Indoor Humidity with Midway Services

If you decide it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or upgrade your air conditioning, Midway Services can help. Our HVAC services are structured to maximize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To raise questions or arrange a visit from one of our certified heating and cooling technicians, please give us a call today.