Can You Decrease Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can create many problems, including mold spores, musty odors, structural issues, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s essential to manage humidity if you want to increase indoor air quality and home comfort.

The recommended relative humidity level is about 30 to 50 percent. Summer is generally the hardest time of year to stay in this range. Luckily, turning on the air conditioner can help.

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

How Air Conditioning Removes Humidity

Contrary to what you might think, 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 travels over the evaporator coil containing cold refrigerant.
  • The refrigerant stores heat, and the moisture in the air condenses on the coil.
  • The condensation falls into the condensate pan underneath the evaporator coil and drains out of the system.
  • Cooler, dehumidified air flows back into your home.

Ways to Lower Humidity

Turning on the air conditioner will sometimes be adequate to push the relative humidity beneath 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity remains a problem in your home, try 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 a cooler temperature. You can also open a window when it’s mild outside to draw in fresh air.

Mop Up Standing Water

Damp shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors increase indoor humidity and could encourage mold and mildew. Clean up standing water promptly to prevent these problems.

Use a Dehumidifier

If you dislike increased humidity in the summer, think about installing a whole-house dehumidifier that runs in tandem with your air conditioner to make your entire home more comfortable. A whole-house model can even run separately from the AC to remove 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 flow away. If you run the air conditioning fan constantly, the moisture won't be able to leave your home. That’s why it’s more efficient to set the fan to “auto” so it is only running when the AC compressor switches on. You should be able to find this setting easily on your thermostat.

Change the Air Filter Regularly

An old filter traps dust and debris and could encourage mold and mildew if it gets wet. This introduces moisture and mold spores into your home every time the AC starts. Replace the air filter every month or as encouraged by the manufacturer to lower indoor humidity and increase air quality.

Adjust the Fan Speed

Optimizing the fan speed can be tricky. Strong airflow helps the AC sustain cooling demand on the hottest days, but this could cause shorter cycles that prevent effective dehumidification. Speak with an HVAC technician to help you select the best fan speed for your comfort preferences.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A grimy coil can’t cool and dehumidify efficiently. If your cooling is having trouble sustaining the preferred 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

Insufficient refrigerant can impair your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left alone, serious issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure may develop. Only a certified HVAC technician can fix refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as needed, giving you another reason to request an AC tune-up.

Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

If your home has continuous comfort problems and your air conditioner is wearing down, it may be time for a replacement. Pick a new AC unit with advanced features, including a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV provides the exact amount of refrigerant consistent with the air temperature, and a variable blower motor adjusts the fan speed to satisfy demand. Both features reinforce 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 tailored to maximize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To raise questions or schedule a visit from one of our qualified heating and cooling technicians, please give us a call today.