Can You Reduce Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Unwanted humidity can result in various problems, like mold and mildew, musty odors, structural damage, and an uncomfortable muggy feeling. That’s why it’s important to control humidity if you plan to increase indoor air quality and home comfort.

The perfect relative humidity level is between 30 to 50 percent. Summer is generally the toughest time of year to stick inside this range. Luckily, using the air conditioner can help.

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

How Air Conditioning Eliminates Humidity

Contrary to popular belief, your air conditioner doesn’t add cool, dry air in your home—it takes out 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 that contains cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant soaks up heat, and the moisture in the air collects on the coil.
  • The condensation flows into the condensate pan under the evaporator coil and drains away from your home.
  • Cooled, dehumidified air flows into your home.

How to Lower Humidity

Using the air conditioner might be sufficient to lower the relative humidity beneath 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity is still a problem in your home, consider these tips.

Ventilate Effectively

Run 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 cool. You can also open a window when it’s milder outside to let in fresh air.

Wipe Up Standing Water

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

Run a Dehumidifier

If you struggle with extreme humidity in the summer, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier that operates in tandem with your air conditioner to make every room more comfortable. A whole-house unit can even run independently of the AC to eliminate humidity on milder days without using the air conditioner. This method saves you money and avoids 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 trickle away. If you run the air conditioning fan constantly, the moisture won't be able to leave your home. That’s why it’s better to set the fan to “auto” so it only runs when the AC compressor turns on. You should be able to adjust this setting easily on your thermostat.

Change 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 any time the AC turns on. Replace the air filter each month or as encouraged by the manufacturer to decrease indoor humidity and increase air quality.

Fine Tune the Fan Speed

Setting the fan speed can be tricky. Higher airflow helps the AC keep up with cooling demand on the hottest days, but this may cause shorter cycles that block effective dehumidification. Coordinate with an HVAC technician to help you determine the ideal fan speed for your comfort needs.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

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

Check the Refrigerant Charge

Insufficient refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to do its job. Left unchecked, severe issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure can happen. Only a skilled HVAC technician can resolve refrigerant leaks and replenish the system as necessary, lending you another reason to request an AC tune-up.

Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

If your home has consistent comfort problems and your air conditioner is getting older, it might be time for a replacement. Install a new AC unit 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 improve cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.

Manage Indoor Humidity with Finch Air Conditioning & Heating

If you think it’s time to put in a whole-house dehumidifier or upgrade your AC system, Finch Air Conditioning & Heating can help. Our HVAC services are designed to improve 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 call us today.