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Your AC and Humidity Control

humidity-on-windowHumidity is a major factor when it comes to comfort in Florida. High humidity during the summer can make warm days feels sweltering. Humidity itself doesn’t actually increase heat: what it does is make it harder for the human body to release heat through perspiration. When your body cannot release as much heat through the skin, you’ll feel hotter. A day when the relative humidity is above 80% will feel around 8° to 10° hotter than what the outdoor thermometer reads. 

Controlling indoor humidity makes it easier to stay cool. Think about the 8–10° difference: that could mean the difference between whether you need to run your AC or keep it off. But does your air conditioning system have any control over the humidity? We’ll look into that below.

The effect of an AC on humidity

Here’s the first important fact to know about your air conditioning system and indoor humidity: the AC has dehumidifying properties, but it is not a dehumidifier.

When an air conditioner runs, it circulates refrigerant between a set of indoor and outdoor coils. Along the indoor coil, the cold refrigerant absorbs heat from the air by evaporating. A side effect of this process is that moisture from the air condenses along the coil surface. The AC is designed to remove this moisture from the unit through a drain to the outside. This is why you often hear water dripping inside your AC when it runs. 

This process does lower the amount of humidity in the air. However, it’s not enough to consider the air conditioner a dehumidifier. The comforting effect of this removal of moisture is negligible. In fact, it’s possible for the air conditioner to become overwhelmed with excess humidity and have trouble draining all of it. Keeping the AC regularly maintained so the condensate drain works is essential to avoiding this. 

The dehumidifier option

There are several ways to lower humidity in your home with your HVAC system. Some air conditioners have dehumidifier controls built into them so you can adjust humidity levels from the thermostat. If your current air conditioning system doesn’t have humidity controls, you can arrange to have a whole-house dehumidifier installed into the HVAC system.

A whole-house dehumidifier works in a fashion similar to the AC: it uses refrigerant to draw moisture from the air. However, the dehumidifier can handle larger amounts of humidity than an AC and it reheats any air it dehumidifies so that it won’t interfere with the work of the air conditioner.

You can also find options for portable dehumidifiers, but we don’t recommend these. They aren’t as effective as a whole-house unit and because they are not integrated into the HVAC system they can end up creating humidity imbalances the wrong direction, such as making a room too dry. 

If you want to control humidity in your house, call our technicians to ask about installation of a dehumidifier in New Port Richey, FL. We can also check to see if your AC is properly sized for your house, since one that’s too small can let humidity easily get out of control.

Serving The Tampa Bay Area Since 1988. Experience the Balanced Air, Inc. difference! 

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