Most people know that excessive humidity can make them feel even hotter during the summer. It comes as no surprise, then, that it has a major impact on the effectiveness of air conditioning systems. What people don’t often realize is that humidity has an effect on heating systems as well. When the humidity in a home is too high or too low, achieving optimal indoor comfort is easier said than done. Today’s best HVAC systems include humidifiers and dehumidifiers that keep relative humidity levels in check.
How Humidity Affects Air Conditioning
Air conditioners cool homes by removing heat and moisture from the air. When humidity levels are excessive, they need to work a lot harder. If the equipment doesn’t have sufficient cooling capacity, it may be unable to cope with extreme humidity. As a result, the home may never feel truly comfortable.
A few common signs of high indoor humidity include:
- Moist, clammy air. In fact, your skin may feel clammy when you’re inside your home.
- Foggy windows. This happens because humidity is vaporized water in the air. When it becomes bottled up in your home, it may fog up the windows.
- A musty odor. Excessive humidity causes dampness around the home and can eventually lead to this unpleasant problem.
Air Conditioning Systems and Humidity
In theory, an air conditioning system should be able to remove moisture from the air. When humidity levels spike, however, most systems can’t cope. Humidity affects air conditioning negatively because it cancels out the cooling effect. When the humidity is too high, your home will feel warmer than it actually is. You’ll have to keep your air conditioning system running but won’t derive nearly as many benefits from using it. In other words, you’ll pay more to cool your home but won’t actually cool it that effectively.
Air Conditioners and Cooling Capacity
People often assume that the larger and more powerful an air conditioner is, the more effectively it can cool a home. That’s not necessarily true. If your air conditioner’s capacity is much larger than needed, it won’t be able to remove moisture as effectively. In turn, your home’s humidity levels will remain high. This is because more powerful air conditioners don’t need to run as much, so they don’t get a chance to remove as much moisture from the air. This is why it’s crucial to buy an air conditioner that suits your home.
The single best way to contend with humidity when trying to cool a home is by having a dehumidifier installed on your HVAC system. This simple appliance will pull moisture from the air before it is forced through the ducts in your home. Dehumidifiers can be paired with air conditioning systems, which allows you to adjust the temperature and humidity level of your home in one fell swoop.
When humidity levels are kept in check inside a home during the summer, air conditioners are able to do their jobs much more effectively. You will notice that you feel cooler and more refreshed under these conditions. As an added bonus, you should notice a nice drop in your energy bill. That’s because your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard, but it will still be able to cool your home properly. Issues like foggy windows, musty odors and moist, clammy air should be eliminated as well.
How Humidity Affects Heating
If high humidity causes problems while trying to cool a home during the summer, low humidity wreaks a special havoc of its own during the winter. Humidity affects heating, but it does so in the opposite way. Humidity levels drop dramatically during the winter. In turn, relative humidity levels inside the home drop as well. In fact, they can drop so much that they can make a home feel a lot cooler than it actually is. Your furnace or heat pump will have to work a lot harder, but it still may not feel cozily warm inside your home.
Ideally, the thermostat in a home should be set between 71 and 77 degrees. This is optimal in terms of comfort and cost. However, this range won’t produce truly comfortable results if humidity levels fall below 50 percent. When that happens, the apparent temperature in a home, which is how warm or cool a home actually feels, will be too low.
The most effective way to deal with low humidity inside a home during the winter is by using a humidifier. Like a dehumidifier, this appliance can be installed right on your HVAC system. It adds moisture to air before it is forced through the ducts in your home. The relative humidity in your home can be kept above 50 percent, which will make the apparent temperature feel a lot warmer. The end result is a warmer, more comfortable home and much more reasonable energy bills.
Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning has been serving customers in and near Savannah GA for years. We are indoor comfort experts, and we can help you make the most of your home’s heating and cooling system. Summers in Savannah GA can be extremely hot and humid, so it’s crucial to have the right setup. We can help.