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It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity! How AC Units Affect Humidity


You’ve surely heard people say that they don’t mind the heat, that it’s actually the humidity that makes them uncomfortable. Did you know that a higher level of humidity at the same temperature will actually keep your body hotter? Many people think their air conditioner will keep their home’s humidity down, and to some degree it will, but it’s actually not that simple. Here’s some information that will help you better understand how heat, humidity, and air conditioners interact.

Ideal Humidity Levels

Relative humidity is expressed as a percentage, and numbers in the thirties or forties are ideal for human comfort. Anything over 50% humidity starts to be uncomfortable, and at 60% humidity, the temperature can seem ten degrees higher than it is! Why? Because your body’s cooling mechanism is evaporation. As you begin to perspire, that moisture evaporates off your skin, lowering your body’s temperature. But if the air is already saturated with too much moisture, your perspiration can’t evaporate, and you stay too hot.

Other Problems That Humidity Causes

High levels of humidity can cause damage to your home. Wood warps, paint bubbles and peels, and mold grows rapidly. If the humidity is high enough, you can end up with condensation puddling, potentially damaging places like your windowsills. 

Humidity can even cause problems in and around your air conditioner. Air conditioners have condensate pans, where the condensation they pull from the air accumulates, and drains to let that water out. But they’re not intended to deal with a great deal of water. If your home’s humidity is way too high, the pan can overflow, risking electrical damage in your air conditioner and rot and mold in the wood and drywall close by. 

Another way humidity is bad for your air conditioner has to do with the fact that the same temperature feels hotter when the humidity level is higher. Because you’re feeling overheated from the humidity, you’re likely to crank up the AC. That means it will be running a lot more than usual, adding to the wear and tear it experiences, and increasing your utility bills. It will be more likely to suffer breakdowns, require repairs, and it will even need to be replaced sooner than if your humidity was lower and it was able to run less of the time. 

Lowering Your Home’s Humidity

What if your air conditioner doesn’t lower your home’s humidity enough? A portable dehumidifier can make some amount of difference, but those generally work best in small, enclosed spaces such as a dorm room. To effectively lower the humidity in a whole home, your best bet is a whole-home dehumidifier.

This will draw condensation from the air in a method that’s similar to how your air conditioner works, but it has the capacity to deal with large amounts of water. You can set it to the precise level of humidity that feels best to you, and enjoy increased comfort without overworking your air conditioner.

We hope we’ve answered the question, “Do I need a dehumidifier if I have air conditioning?” If you have any further questions about choosing the right dehumidifier or another comfort system for your home, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Contact PRK Services, Inc. today for all your cooling and comfort needs.

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