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Can My AC Handle Summer Humidity?

too-much-heatIf you’ve experienced at least one year living in the Triangle, you know that high humidity makes heat much harder to cope with. You can expect to run your home’s air conditioning system longer and harder to overcome the additional heat.

Well … the feeling of additional heat. High humidity doesn’t raise the temperature of the air: an 85°F day is still an 85°F day no matter if the relative humidity is 15% or 90%. What happens when humidity levels are too high (over 60%) is that more heat becomes trapped inside your body. The increased moisture in the air slows down your ability to release heat through perspiration, so you end up feeling hotter than if you were able to shed most of that internal heat.

Basic science lesson over. What does this have to do with your air conditioner? Plenty. If you feel your air conditioner isn’t doing much to combat the high humidity in your house each summer, that’s because it ­wasn’t designed to.

“But isn’t an air conditioner designed to keep the house cool?”

Yes, that is its main function. An air conditioner draws heat from the air moving over its evaporator coil, lowering the air’s temperature; the air handler then blows this cooled air into the house. This helps your house to enjoy cooler temperatures. But the air conditioner isn’t created to specifically address high humidity. The only way for the air conditioner to combat the increased feeling of heat in a house is to just run longer.

“I thought air conditioners did dehumidify air.”

Air conditioners have dehumidifying properties, so technically, they dehumidify the air—but not enough to make a significant difference for your house. Part of the process of removing heat from the air along the evaporator coil is also causing moisture in the air to condense along the coil. This is why you hear a dripping sound from the AC at times. But unless an air conditioner was designed with special dehumidifying controls, this removal of moisture via refrigerant evaporation won’t properly dehumidify a house to have an impact on comfort.

“So I just have to accept that I’ll need to have the AC running more on humid days.”

Not necessarily. As we mentioned, some air conditioners have humidity controls included in them that can be operated from the thermostat. But if your AC lacks these controls, you still have an option: a whole-house dehumidifier. This is a device our technicians can integrate into the HVAC system. It adds the extra level of dehumidification necessary to lower relative humidity down to a comfortable 45%. This will help people in your house feel around 8°F cooler, and that can mean the difference in whether the AC needs to run or not.

There are other benefits of having a whole-house dehumidifier in Wake Forest, NC, such as lowering water damage and preventing mold and mildew growth. If you think a dehumidifier is what your household needs for better summer comfort and improved energy savings, get in touch with us.

Comfort Master Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. serves the Triangle Area of North Carolina. Call us for cooling services.

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