The heat index is a very real weather phenomenon, capable of making the air inside and outside of your home feel much warmer than it actually is. In fact, a temperature of 82°F with 85% humidity feels like 90°F, which is why it pays to do everything you can to lower your indoor relative humidity. Here are four easy ways to reduce the humidity levels inside your home so you can stay cool and comfortable.
Have Your AC Unit Tuned Up
Your air conditioner is designed to pull some moisture out of the air as it runs, but this process only works if your AC is functioning properly. When your air conditioner kicks on, it pumps refrigerant through coils in your air handler. As warm air passes over these chilled coils, condensation forms and humidity literally drips away down a drainage tube connected to your air conditioner’s pan. Unfortunately, if the air handler becomes laden with dust and debris, they can’t form this condensation as effectively, leaving humidity in the air of your home. One of the best ways to avoid this problem is by changing your air filter regularly. Experts recommend switching out standard 1″–3″ filters every 30–60 days, or whenever they start to look dirty. Well-filtered air keeps your air handler clean, allowing your HVAC system to operate efficiently and maximize humidity removal. If your home seems more humid than normal or you haven’t always been great at switching out air filters, contact an HVAC professional to conduct a routine tune up of your system. During these maintenance calls, professionals will carefully check your air conditioner for worn components and dirty coils. If issues are present, parts can be replaced and grime can be cleaned away from the internal fins of your air handler.
Switch Up Your Houseplants
Most people realize that houseplants emit oxygen as they beautify your home, but did you know they can also contribute to elevated humidity levels? Some plants release water molecules in addition to oxygen, making your home feel muggy. Plants with high transpiration rates include the spider plant, English ivy, and the peace lily. Although plants might not seem like a big part of the problem, certain tropical plants can add significant amounts of moisture to the air. In fact, a single six-foot indoor areca palm can release as much as a quart of water into the air every 24 hours, making your modern home feel like the middle of the jungle. On the other hand, certain houseplants actually absorb moisture, lowering the relative humidity of your home and making your place feel cooler. If your home feels muggy, switch up your houseplants to include plants like ferns, succulents, and orchids. As a general rule of thumb, plants that require less water typically tend to absorb it from the air. For instance, orchids have long, chunky visible roots that absorb humidity 24/7, making them the perfect addition to bathrooms.
Invest in a Dehumidifier
If you aren’t much of an arborist and you can tell your air conditioner isn’t cutting it, you should consider investing in a dehumidifier. These simple systems are designed to work alongside standard HVAC equipment, removing extra humidity from the air before it is cooled by your air conditioner. A dehumidifier has a built-in humidistat, which allows you to carefully control the humidity levels inside your home. When humidity levels climb higher than the set percentage, the dehumidifier kicks on to remove extra moisture from the air. To keep your home cool while still gaining the benefits of a small amount of indoor humidity, HVAC professionals recommend keeping your indoor humidity between 40% and 50%. At this humidity level, your thermostat can accurately gauge the temperature of your home, allowing it to turn on and off properly. A dehumidifier is especially beneficial to the air conditioner because it reduces the system’s workload. Since the air is already partially cooled and the majority of the moisture has been removed, the air conditioner can chill the home faster and more efficiently, lowering your power bill.
Install a Fume Hood
Another big source of indoor humidity stems from your cooking habits, since pots of boiling water and sauté pans bubbling away contribute airborne water particles. Cooking fumes can also pollute your indoor air, filling the air you breathe with particulates like soot and grease. However, you can lower indoor air pollution and humidity by installing a fume hood over your stove. These systems are designed to vent cooking fumes and send them outside where they won’t hurt your family or make your home uncomfortable. If your indoor air feels overly moist, give our team a call. Here at Magnolia Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, we believe customers should have easy access to excellent HVAC and plumbing service, regardless of the day or time. From complimentary consultations to work that is 100% guaranteed, you can rest assured that our team will help your home to feel more comfortable.