Managing Humidity and Your HVAC Performance During Summer Months

07.15.19

Did you know that the level of humidity in your home can affect both HVAC performance and your comfort? It’s important to find and maintain the right humidity level for your home.

What is humidity?

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air around you.

What is relative humidity?

Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor present in air expressed as a percentage of the amount needed for saturation at the same temperature. This means that as temperatures rise or fall, the capacity of the air to hold water changes.

Summer Air and Humidity

During warm summer months, the average humidity in your home should weigh in between 30-45% (below the 50% mark). Maintaining the proper humidity levels means that your home feels cooler in the summer without having to adjust your thermostat to a lower temperature. On the flip side, humidity that is too high or too low in your home will result in an uncomfortable atmosphere and possible respiratory problems. Improper humidity levels can also damage the interior and exterior of your home.

Summer air feels sticky because warm air holds more water. For this reason, humidity is higher during the summer months than at any other time of year. Too much moisture in a home can cause:

  • Discomfort
  • Problems sleeping
  • Mold growth
  • Muggy conditions

For these reasons, you should discontinue using humidifiers during the summer, use your air conditioner to remove moisture from your home, and regularly use exhaust fans in your kitchen, laundry room, and bathrooms.

But how do you know if the humidity is too high in your home? Sometimes mold growth doesn’t make itself known for a long time, and there can be many reasons for not sleeping well.

Here are some signs that there is too much humidity in your home:

  1. Use your nose! A musty, damp smell in parts of your home is a sign of too much moisture.
  2. The air in your home feels moist.
  3. Your windows often fog up. 

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers recommends a range of 45–55% humidity in your home to manage health effects and illnesses.

Comfortable: 30–60%

Recommended: 45–55%

High: 55–80% 

Humidity and Your HVAC System

It’s your air conditioner’s job to both cool your home and to remove excess moisture from the air. During the summer months, when it is hot and extra humid, your air conditioner has to work hard, which can take a toll on your equipment. If your HVAC system is older or the wrong size for your home, it may be inefficient in removing water from the air. This means that your system will have to work longer and harder to cool your home, adding wear to the unit, and it may never deliver the result that you want: a cool and comfortable home. In fact, your home may end up feeling warmer than it is because the humid air isn’t being properly removed.

Dehumidification

Dehumidifying your home in the summer may allow you to set the temperature on your thermostat a few degrees higher, which should save your money on your energy bills.

Installing a dehumidifier directly on your HVAC system is the most reliable and efficient way to manage both temperature and humidity levels in your home at the same time. The dehumidifier works with your air conditioning system to pull water from the air before it is sent into your home. We are happy to recommend a compatible dehumidifier for your system. If you are installing a new system, it’s an ideal time to add a dehumidifier.

You can also purchase a stand-alone dehumidifier and manage the humidity level manually. This will require you to monitor humidity levels continually and run the dehumidifier when needed.

Maintaining Outdoor Equipment

Heavy, moist air carries large amounts of dust, dirt, and debris, which can settle in the unit’s coils and fins. During the summer, you’re running your air conditioner for more extended amounts of time, which also results in more wear on the physical unit. We have a simple solution – a garden hose!

Using a garden hose, you can easily remove the collected dirt and debris. And as a bonus, misting the unit cools the air that passes through the condenser coils, which allows it to cool your home more efficiently for some time.

Please give us a call if you would like further instruction on how to properly clean your outdoor unit. And if you have any questions at all about maintaining the ideal humidity levels in your home, we are waiting by the phone to speak to you! 770.813.1316