Can You Decrease Humidity by Running the Air Conditioner?

Too much humidity can cause multiple problems, including mold and mildew, musty smells, structural issues, and an unpleasant muggy feeling. That’s why it’s essential to balance humidity if you hope to enhance indoor air quality and home comfort.

The perfect relative humidity level is between 30 to 50 percent. Summer is usually the most challenging time of year to stay in this range. Thankfully, running the air conditioner can help.

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

How Air Conditioning Lowers Humidity

Contrary to what you might think, your air conditioner doesn’t increase 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 how it works:

  • Indoor air moves through the ductwork and passes 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 under the evaporator coil and drains out of the system.
  • Cooled, dehumidified air blows back into your home.

How to Reduce Humidity

Turning on the air conditioner will sometimes be sufficient to bring the relative humidity below 50 percent in dry climates. But if high humidity is still a problem in your home, try again with these tips.

Ventilate Properly

Run the exhaust fan in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room when you shower, cook and wash clothes. Spot ventilation removes 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.

Wipe Up Standing Water

Water on shower tiles, kitchen counters and laundry room floors increase indoor humidity and could stimulate mold and mildew. Wipe up standing water promptly to protect against these problems.

Install a Dehumidifier

If you struggle with high humidity in the summer, look into installing a whole-house dehumidifier that performs in tandem with your air conditioner to make your entire home more comfortable. A whole-house unit can even run separately from the AC to remove humidity on more temperate days without running the air conditioner. This strategy saves you money and doesn't leave you with that “cool but clammy” feeling.

Adjust the AC Fan to Auto

The condensation that forms on the evaporator coil needs time to accumulate and drip away. If you run the air conditioning fan constantly, the moisture will blow back into your home. That’s why it’s more effective to flip the fan to “auto” so it only runs when the AC compressor starts. You should be able to find this setting easily on your thermostat.

Change the Air Filter on a Regular Basis

A clogged filter traps dust and debris and will sometimes harbor mold growth if it becomes wet. This introduces moisture and mold spores into your home each time the AC is running. Exchange the air filter every month or as recommended by the manufacturer to reduce indoor humidity and enhance air quality.

Fine Tune the Fan Speed

Setting the fan speed can be tricky. Higher airflow helps the AC sustain cooling demand on scorching summer days, but this could lead to shorter cycles that prevent effective dehumidification. Speak with an HVAC technician to help you select the ideal fan speed for your comfort requirements.

Clean the Evaporator Coil

A dirty coil can’t cool and dehumidify well. If your air conditioner is having trouble reaching the set temperature, contact our HVAC specialists to inspect your cooling system and clean the evaporator coil. Cooling and dehumidifying efficiency should improve as a result.

Verify the Refrigerant Charge

Low refrigerant can hinder your air conditioner’s ability to carry out its job. Left alone, major issues including a frozen evaporator coil or compressor failure could develop. Only a certified HVAC technician can mend refrigerant leaks and refresh the system as necessary, giving you another reason to schedule an AC tune-up.

Upgrade Your Air Conditioner

If your home has continuous comfort issues and your air conditioner is wearing down, it could be time for a replacement. Select a new AC system with advanced features, such as a thermal expansion valve (TXV) and variable blower motor. A TXV delivers the precise amount of refrigerant determined by the air temperature, and a variable blower motor increases or decreases the fan speed to meet demand. Both features enhance cooling and dehumidifying effectiveness.

Balance Indoor Humidity with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning

If you think it’s time to install a whole-house dehumidifier or replace your air conditioning, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help. Our HVAC services are tailored to optimize home comfort and energy efficiency for your long-term satisfaction. To ask questions or request a visit from one of our experienced heating and cooling technicians, please call us today.