Did you know that excessive humidity can actually hurt your air conditioner?
Humidity is essentially moisture—moisture that in our area comes with the high summer temperatures we’re all very familiar with. This moisture makes us uncomfortable, and essentially the only way it dissipates is by lowering the temperature. So, it stands to reason that you’d turn on your air conditioner and set it to the lowest possible temperature, right?
The problem with this is that it makes your air conditioner work harder and harder as summer progresses, and as a result, the AC system is strained and accumulates wear and damage. Plus, the humidity isn’t effectively removed, so you’ll still be uncomfortable.
When Is Humidity “Too High”?
Humidity is “too high” when the relative humidity level inside your home is about 50%. On that note, if it’s below 30% your air is too dry—this is a common wintertime problem. But we digress—
A relative humidity level above 50% is usually when most household members notice discomfort. After all, we stay cool by sweating and having that sweat evaporate off our skin.
So, when humidity is too high, there’s too much ambient moisture in the air to allow our bodies to sweat. Therefore, they stay heated and the sweat stays on our skin, leaving us feeling gross and sticky when the air is muggy. In addition, high humidity encourages the growth and development of mold and other bacteria that can make you ill.
What This All Means for Your Air Conditioner
The best way to lower humidity, as we mentioned above, is to lower the temperature, which causes moisture to coalesce into droplets—this is much like you’ll notice outdoors early in the morning. So, this means by default, your air conditioner serves as a dehumidifier. But there are problems with this!
For instance, your air conditioner is not designed to be a dehumidifier. Yes, air conditioners remove some of the moisture in the air naturally simply through their operation, but it’s not a significant amount, and you really have no control over how much moisture is actually being removed.
Excessive moisture in the air causes your AC system to work harder than it should have to, in order to do its job of conditioning the air. Since the air feels hotter when humidity levels are too high, you’ll likely find yourself setting the thermostat lower and lower, impacting your air conditioner and subsequently your cooling bills.
Okay, so humidity is bad for your air conditioner, now what?
Well, a whole-house dehumidifier will help! These systems are designed to remove excess moisture from your home, without negatively impacting your air conditioner. In fact, the dehumidifier actually helps your air conditioner out, since you won’t need to turn the thermostat down as low, and in effect, the air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to do its job.