You’ve gratefully left the cold winter months behind you, and are now moving into summer, in which you face a new set of weather challenges, the wilting and leaden heat, drowning you in perspiration. You will look to your AC system to be your best buddy in keeping you comfortable when temperatures soar into the 80s and higher during the day, and remain in the upper 70s during the evening hours. If you live in a humid climate, a surfeit of moisture suspended in the air can make your home feel even hotter than it actually is, affecting the comfort level of your home.
Because your AC system’s job is to, not only cool the air, but also remove oppressive humidity levels from it, your AC unit is working overtime to provide the comfort you seek, and in the process wearing out its components faster. If your AC system has some years on it, its efficiency has started to wane, and its effectiveness is jeopardized. The result is an increase in your power bills, and a hot, sweaty environment.
If you’ve purchased an AC system that is not the appropriate size for your living space this also affects the AC unit’s ability to cool your home adequately, including extracting the excess moisture humidity causes from your muggy indoor air.
Three evident signs that point to humidity as the problem, causing your AC system to function less efficiently are:
- A feeling of moisture permeates the air
- Your home has a damp or musty odor in certain areas
- Your windows are fogging up
If these symptoms are present your air is holding more humidity than it should for your home’s comfort, and the humidity level must be brought down to bring cooling relief. The best method for dealing with heavy moisture in the air inside your home is to purchase a dehumidifier, which can be attached to your AC system by an AC installation technician. The dehumidifier will partner with your AC unit to draw excessive wetness from the air, pulling it into the air ducts throughout your home. The benefit to having a two-pronged comfort system is the management of temperature and humidity simultaneously within your home.
Adjunct vs. Stand-Alone Dehumidifiers
You are not limited to adjunct dehumidifiers; you can also buy an unattachable dehumidifier. The drawback to this choice is you will need to manually adjust the humidity-level device. However, the benefit of an unattachable dehumidifier is the option of only turning it on when it’s necessary to further cool your home.
With an attachable or unattachable dehumidifier, plus your AC unit, your combined comfort system will gain in efficiency, giving you the perfect level of comfort during scorching and humid summer days, and stifling, hot and sticky nights, permitting you to sleep more comfortably.
Single-Speed vs. Multiple-Speed AC Systems
Apart from using a dehumidifier to lessen the humidity of your indoor air, another option exists to deal with the intense heat and humidity of the summer months. And that is purchasing a modulating-speed AC system instead of a fixed-speed AC. A fixed-speed AC unit operates at one speed only. With a modulating-speed AC system there are models manufactured with two or more speed-adjustment levels. A modulating-speed AC system will adjust the temperature levels, according to whether less or more cooling is required at any given moment. A modulating-speed AC unit will also eliminate hot or cold spots in your home.
Another consideration for thinking about buying a modulating-speed AC system is your comfort during sleep hours. A fixed-speed AC unit, which provides a steady airflow, can create too much cold as it turns on, or too much heat when it shuts off, affecting sleepers’ body temperatures. You find yourself waking to throw off the covers from too much heat, or pulling them back on from too much cold, interrupting a sound night’s sleep.
Another sleep annoyance is the sound of the AC unit as it cycles on and off. It’s been said the noise from the AC unit can even travel as far as your neighbors’ homes next door. With a modulating-speed AC system the airflow is less strong, and the unit stays on longer, permitting more accurate temperature control. One other advantage of a modulating-speed unit is there are fewer turn-ons and turn-offs, reducing noise pollution.
Humidity, Mold, and Dehumidifiers
The clamminess or stickiness of overly-humid air creates the conditions for the appearance of mold. An AC fixed-speed unit can exceed the recommended level of 50% humidity, attaining in some instances humidity levels as high as 60%, increasing the odds of toxic mold growth. Modulating-speed models never exceed 50% humidity levels. And modulating-speed units’ ability to keep temperatures fluctuating, according to the needs of users, and the moisture content low enough to prohibit unsightly mold taking hold within the home, is a strong selling point. If you haven’t guessed already mold is much more than an eye-sore, reflecting on the attractiveness of your home; it also risks the health of people. Too much mold growth can cause serious illness or even death to the sufferer.
Winter and Humidifiers
You may be surprised to learn humidity isn’t just a problem during the summer but also during the winter months. The reverse effect of humidity, compared to the hot weather months, is cold air is not capable of retaining enough moisture. As a result when moisture levels are too low, the air can feel much colder than the thermostat indicates. The lower the humidity level the colder the air will feel despite the thermostat’s indicator.
The problems that come with drier and colder air are the uncomfortable effects of dry, itchy skin and eyes, dehydrated nasal passages, and increased discomfort of the sinuses. Flooring and furniture can also become targets of not enough moisture in the air, developing cracks on their surfaces. Your home’s temperature should range from 70–77 degrees. If you find you need to turn the thermostat even higher than the maximum comfort level that’s a sign the humidity level is very low.
The dryness and coldness of an atmosphere that is lacking enough humidity requires a humidifier instead of a dehumidifier. A humidifier can also be attached to your heating system to enhance its performance and lessen the need to run it harder and less efficiently. And you will save on your power bill because it won’t be necessary to raise your thermostat too high to compensate for the deficiency of moisture, contributing to the much cooler air lower humidity levels create.
As you can see humidifiers and dehumidifiers, working in tandem with your cooling and heating units, are essential components to achieving the correct balance of moisture in your air during the hottest and coldest months of the year. Your home’s comfort level will be enhanced, the health of your family protected, as well as your home’s contents. Isn’t that reason enough to invest in them?