It’s something everyone knows from when they’re young: when a summer day is more humid, the heat feels worse. This isn’t because high humidity makes the day hotter. When it’s 85°F outside, it remains 85°F no matter if the relative humidity is a bone-dry 10% or a sopping wet 90%. What changes is how that 85°F feels. With more moisture in the air, it becomes more difficult for the human body to release heat through the skin. Perspiration slows down because there is too much water in the air. The result is more heat is trapped inside the body, making it feel hotter. It’s as if you decided to put on a coat on a hot day!
An Air Conditioning System Cools You Off—But Doesn’t Dehumidify
How do you get cooler on a hot day when inside your house? You turn on your central air conditioning system of course. The AC removes heat from the air indoors and exhausts it outdoors, making the air cooler. Yes, this helps on a humid day—but only relatively. The humidity level remains the same, so even if the AC cools the air from 90°F down to 78°F, the humidity will still make it seem warmer. You can lower the thermostat more to overcome the extra heat, but that means spending more money to run the AC.
An air conditioner does have some dehumidifying properties. Part of the process of evaporating refrigerant to draw heat from the air also pulls out some moisture that condenses along the evaporator coil. This is an insignificant amount, however, and won’t make a difference for comfort in your house.
Fight Humidity With a Whole-House Dehumidifier
The best way to control high humidity and reduce it to a comfortable level (not too humid, not too dry) is with a whole-house dehumidifier. Although you can purchase portable dehumidifiers, they only effect a single room and are imprecise. They can also be fire hazards. With a whole-house dehumidifier, you have all parts of your living space affected, and you can control the humidity level with precision through a humidistat (which can be integrated into a new thermostat).
A whole-house dehumidifier uses similar technology to an air conditioner: it evaporates cold refrigerant along a coil in order to pull moisture from the air. The dehumidifier is more powerful at affecting moisture. It also cools the air as it works, so to prevent it from interfering with the AC, it reheats all the air it dehumidifies.
We recommend setting your whole-house dehumidifier to a relative humidity of 45%. Below 30% is too dry and above 60% is too humid. Most people find 45% is the right range for comfort. And the whole-house dehumidifier will also prevent other problems with humidity, such as water damage and mold-growth.
You can rely on the West Chester, PA air conditioning professionals at Signature HVAC for the service necessary to keep your home cool and comfortable all summer. Talk to us today about AC and indoor air quality solutions that make a difference.
Signature HVAC offers service in hours, not days! Call us for help in Chester County and the surrounding areas.