It’s summer. You’re hot, sweaty, and perpetually uncomfortable. You turn on your air conditioner, but is it helping or hindering your humidity situation?
High levels of moisture in your home can make you feel hotter, and damage your home itself. It promotes mold growth, creates condensations in your walls and ceilings, and can lead to wood rot and full-on structural damage.
Humidity can be bad for you, too. It can cause allergies to flare up, interrupt your sleep or reduce the quality of rest, and lead to respiratory problems.
So what’s the ideal humidity? The consensus is that between 30 and 50% humidity, you and your home are at their best. So how do you control the humidity in your home, especially over the summer months when you’re desperate to run your air conditioner?
The first step is to track the humidity in your home. Hygrometers are instruments used to measure water vapours – humidity – in the environment, and they’re useful for confined spaces like in your home. For a couple bucks, you can buy an analog, or even digital hygrometer. The stats on it will let you know if you’re feeling sticky because your home is too humid.
Make sure your air conditioner isn’t contributing to the humidity problem. Wipe down the front grille often, clearing off dust that can trap moisture and give the air a stale, moist feeling and smell. Some air conditioners have a light to alert you to check your filter. Whether yours does or not, be sure to pull it out occasionally and wipe it down as well. If you’ve cleaned these out and your air conditioner seems louder or feels like it’s circulating especially humid air, have it checked by an air conditioning system professional. Regular maintenance or necessary repairs can go a long way, and especially if you have a high-end model, you want to maximize its lifespan and avoid costly replacements. You also want to make sure you’re using the right size and type of unit for your home. For example, if you have a large, high-powered AC unit for a smaller apartment or home, it won’t run as long to cool the space. The shorter the run cycles of your unit, the less time it’s spending dehumidifying.
It’s also a good idea to use other methods to circulate air while your air conditioner is working hard to cool off your home. Turn on your stove fan when you cook, and your bathroom fan while you shower. If you’re otherwise lounging around the house, set up small oscillating fans or even a desk fan to help usher the cool air around instead of concentrating it in the room or area around the AC unit.
Your last resort might be to shell out and invest in a dehumidifier. It’s a fair cost upfront, but you’ll find you spend way less on your electric bill, in part because you don’t run your air conditioner as much. If the air is dry and circulating, it’ll feel cooler overall. If you use a dehumidifier in conjunction with your AC, you’re in for optimal levels of summertime comfort.