Four Ways You Can Lower Your Home's Interior Humidity This Summer

One of the most important functions of your central air conditioner from a company like HomeSmart From Xcel Energy is lowering the humidity inside your home. A high level of humidity can make home occupants uncomfortable, not to mention that it can encourage mold and mildew growth. Most central air conditioning units are able to reduce humidity in the air to a tolerable level on their own, but there are some locations in the United States where supplemental dehumidification can prove valuable. Below are four ways to lower your home's interior humidity if you need to give your central air conditioning system a helping hand:

Natural dehumidification

Utilizing a few natural dehumidification methods, coupled with your central air conditioning unit's capacity, may enough to remove most of the ambient moisture in your home. Below are a few hints that can help you keep the inside humidity low:

  • Use natural ventilation on nicer days – during days when the humidity is lower and temperatures are comfortable enough to tolerate, you can remove moisture from your home simply by opening windows and circulating air. Use ceiling and floor fans to keep the air moving, and that will evaporate moisture and push damp air outside. Also, be sure to open closet doors and other normally-enclosed spaces to maximize the drying effect.
  • Remove house plants – house plants add water to your home's air, so if you are struggling with high humidity inside, you should consider replacing natural plants with silk ones.
  • Unplug clothes dryer vents – a clothes dryer vent that becomes clogged can prevent the damp, hot air from being expelled outside; instead, it can seep back into your home and add a lot of uncomfortable humidity.
  • Cool down your showers and baths – hot showers and baths may feel good at the time, but they also increase the amount of moisture escaping into the rest of your home. Try to cool down the water temperature to minimize the amount of water vapor rising from your tub or stall.

Mechanically-refrigerated dehumidifier

The most common means of lowering indoor humidity is by using mechanical refrigeration, which is the likely same system you will find inside your air conditioner and refrigerator. A circulating coolant chills an evaporator, a coiled metallic device, and moisture inside ambient air condenses on the coil. Water inside air cannot remain in gaseous form if the temperature drops too much; that's why dew forms on the grass overnight as the air temperature drops and water droplets emerge.

Water collected by a mechanically refrigerated dehumidifier is either discharged to the outside or collected in a pan. To maximize the operating efficiency of your unit, drain the water from the pan on a daily basis. Otherwise, the water will evaporate into your home's air and cause your unit to continuously remove the same water repeatedly. In addition, be sure that your dehumidifier is not leaking or clogged at any point inside the unit or along its drainage path to the outside. Water can collect behind walls or saturate flooring, and this can cause serious damage to your home's materials as well as feed mold growth.

Adsorption dehumidifier

Adsorption is a process that occurs when an adsorbent material, including silica, aluminum oxide, carbon and others, attracts and retains molecules from other substances. Adsorbent dehumidifiers use materials to "grab" water molecules from the air and hold them captive.

Adsorbents offer several advantages to home owners looking to reduce ambient humidity. They require no power, which makes them costless to operate and completely quiet. In addition, adsorbent dehumidifiers are often able to be reused countless times by simply heating the adsorbent material to release the trapped water molecules.

However, adsorbent dehumidifiers do possess a few disadvantages. If neglected, the adsorbent material eventually will cease removing any further water vapor from the air. Since this process is completely silent and there is no visible water, it can be easy to forget regular maintenance of the unit. A neglected adsorbent can become a catalyst for mold growth. In addition, unless a blower or fan is added to the adsorption unit, it has a limited capacity to access as much water vapor as might otherwise be available.

 Peltier effect dehumidifier

The Peltier effect occurs when an electric current initiates the movement of heat from one side of a unit to another. The heat is literally drawn away from the cooling element where water droplets condense on the cooled element. At that point, water is either drained or collected in a pan for later disposal.

Much like adsorption, the Peltier effect doesn't make any noise during operation. Also, reversing the direction of current flow creates heat energy, and this can be used to heat spaces during the colder months.

Dehumidifiers using the Peltier effect possesses a couple of downsides that make it less-than-ideal for most dehumidification routines. First, it uses a high amount of electricity relative to the amount of dehumidification it provides. Second, the influence of the Peltier effect is much less pronounced than other forms of humidity control; these units work at their best in small, confined spaces such as closets, recreational vehicles and other similar areas.