The heat index is a very real weather phenomenon, capable of making the air inside and outside 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 the 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, it can’t form this condensation as effectively, leaving moisture 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.
Upgrade Your AC Unit
When discussing ways to reduce humidity inside your home, it’s impossible not to mention the benefits a new air conditioning system can provide. There are many types of energy-efficient air conditioners on the market today that come with variable-speed compressors.
Variable-speed air conditioners are popular among homeowners and HVAC companies in Washington, DC, because they can help you save money on your energy bills. As the name suggests, these units can run at various speeds. When you set the system to a lower speed, you will waste less money — but you will also remove excess humidity from the air in the process.
Although installing a new air conditioner can be a significant investment, it’s worth considering if you deal with high humidity regularly. Indoor humidity levels can make or break your household’s comfort — and sometimes, you might find that upgrading your HVAC system is worth it in the long run.
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.
Open the Windows Occasionally
Since we’re discussing how to lower humidity, you may be surprised to find this tip on the list. You might be sitting there and asking, “Won’t opening the windows lead to even more excess humidity entering your home?” The answer, believe it or not, is no.
Cracking open a window can help improve the ventilation inside your home. As a result, the humidity won’t be able to sit in one place for too long. This is certainly one of the easiest ways to reduce humidity — but you probably won’t want to try it when your air conditioner is running. You could end up wasting a great deal of energy.
Dry Your Clothes Outside
Are you constantly using a dryer for your laundry? While this might seem like the most practical option, you could be doing your home a disservice. When clothes come out of the washing machine, they are often incredibly damp. The excessive moisture on your clothes can add to the amount of moisture in your home.
Try drying clothes outside by hanging them on a line. This is one of the best ways to reduce humidity because it can also help reduce energy consumption and costs.
When learning how to lower humidity, it’s important to be mindful of every source of moisture inside your home. Even the most inconspicuous source, such as your freshly-cleaned laundry, could contribute to your home’s high humidity levels.
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 these levels, 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.
Limit Your Shower Time
Do you tend to take long, hot showers? While there is nothing better than taking a shower to unwind after a long day, you should be aware that the steam can lead to excessive moisture levels inside your home.
One of the most effective ways to reduce humidity is to cut down on your shower time. Additionally, you’ll want to use the exhaust fan in your bathroom to remove the steam when you shower. These exhaust fans remove moisture in the air by literally pulling the humid air up and out of your home.
As you can see from these tips, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for lowering humidity indoors. If this method doesn’t work for you because you tend to take shorter showers, you might want to focus on the other tips in this list instead. When learning how to lower humidity, find a few solutions that fit your specific needs and situation. It’s okay if you don’t try everything!
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 to 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.
Don’t Hesitate to Contact an Expert
Humidity is incredibly uncomfortable — but it can also negatively affect your indoor air quality. For example, mold growth is a common consequence of high humidity and is an airborne contaminant that can worsen allergy and asthma symptoms. Fortunately, now that you know how to lower humidity, you can try out some of these tips to see what works for you.
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.
Don’t suffer from uncomfortable, humid air. Magnolia is your source for everything from indoor air quality services to HVAC repair in Arlington, VA, and the surrounding areas. Contact our experts for help today!