Can You Decrease Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can cause many problems, such as mold and mildew, musty rooms, structural issues, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s important to balance humidity if you want to improve indoor air quality and home comfort.

The ideal relative humidity level is around 30 to 50 percent. Summer is usually the most challenging time of year to stick in this range. Fortunately, turning on the air conditioner can help.

After all, air conditioning doesn’t just cool your home—it also lowers humidity. Here’s details of how this works, alongside with recommendations to balance indoor humidity levels.

How Air Conditioning Removes Humidity

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

  • Indoor air moves through the ductwork and all over the evaporator coil filled with cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant soaks up heat, and the moisture in the air collects on the coil.
  • The condensation flows into the condensate pan underneath the evaporator coil and drains out of the system.
  • Cool, dehumidified air flows into your home.

Ways to Decrease Humidity

Using the air conditioner will sometimes be adequate to push the relative humidity beneath 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity continues to be a problem in your home, consider these tips.

Ventilate Properly

Run the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. Detached ventilation eliminates humidity at the source to keep these rooms cool. You can also open a window when it’s more temperate outside to let in fresh air.

Wipe Up Standing Water

Water on shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors raise indoor humidity and may stimulate mold and mildew. Clean up standing water promptly to prevent these problems.

Install a Dehumidifier

If you grapple with extreme humidity in the summer, consider 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 operate separately from the AC to lower humidity on mild days without using the air conditioner. This technique saves you money and doesn't leave you with that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Adjust the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that gathers on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and trickle away. If you run the air conditioning fan continuously, the moisture will blow right back in your home. That’s why it’s better to adjust the fan to “auto” so it only runs when the AC compressor starts. You should be able to change this setting easily on your thermostat.

Change the Air Filter Consistently

An old filter traps dust and debris and will sometimes harbor mold growth if it becomes wet. This adds more moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC starts. Exchange the air filter every month or as recommended by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and improve air quality.

Adjust the Fan Speed

Setting the fan speed can be tricky. Higher airflow helps the AC sustain cooling demand on particularly hot days, but this might cause shorter cycles that minimize the chance of effective dehumidification. Speak with an HVAC technician to help you select the right fan speed for your comfort needs.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A grimy coil can’t cool and dehumidify effectively. If your cooling 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 capabilities should improve as a result.

Check the Refrigerant Charge

Insufficient refrigerant can impair your air conditioner’s ability to perform its job. Left unchecked, serious issues such as a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure may develop. Only a certified HVAC technician can mend 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 continuous comfort trouble and your air conditioner is wearing down, it could be time to look for a new one. Pick a new AC system with advanced features, like a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV delivers the perfect amount of refrigerant based on the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adjusts the fan speed to meet demand. Both features enhance cooling and dehumidifying efficiency.

Manage Indoor Humidity with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning

If you think it’s time to put in a whole-house dehumidifier or swap out your air conditioner, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help. Our HVAC services are designed to maximize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To share questions or schedule a visit from one of our experienced heating and cooling technicians, please give us a call today.