Most of the country experiences low humidity levels in the winter, when falling temperatures dry out the air. For our service area, it’s the exact opposite problem. Winters are mild in Southern California, but also very wet, and with the high levels of rain we’ve experienced this year, you may be dealing with too much humidity, not too little.
People have a tendency to run their air conditioners as a way of lowering humidity levels. This works to an extent, but it’s also very inefficient, and can cause a number of serious problems for your system. A whole-house dehumidifier can do the job a lot better. Here’s how it works.
Why Is High Humidity a Problem?
High humidity generally translates into that muggy feeling you get in steamy atmospheres. It can be measured in terms of relative humidity — a percentage charting the amount of ambient moisture in the air. Human beings are most comfortable when the relative humidity levels sit somewhere between 30% and 50%.
When it gets higher than that. you can start to feel it. There’s too much moisture in the air to let the sweat evaporate off of your skin, which is the body’s natural way of keeping cool. That leads to an uncomfortable, gross wet feeling in humid air. It can also foster the growth of mold and bacteria in your home, and it can make the air feel hotter too, forcing you to run your air conditioner more often than normal.
Why Not Rely on the Air Conditioner?
Lowering the temperature of the air helps dehumidify it by default. As the temperature falls, the gaseous water vapor coalesces into liquid form, the same phenomenon creating dew in the early hours of the morning. The trouble is that air conditioners are focused on temperature control. They lack the means to capture high amounts of condensate and you can’t adjust the desired levels of humidity. Furthermore, with mild temperatures in the winter, running the air conditioner isn’t a practical option: not unless you’re prepared to put your AC under a lot of strain and pay higher monthly costs in the bargain.
Dehumidifiers Work Better
A dehumidifier lowers the temperature of the air too, but their system has several key differences from air conditioners:
- There’s no need to vent hot air from the home — a key part of an air conditioner’s function — which makes the dehumidifier a simpler system overall. It also lets your run the system in cooler weather when needed.
- Humidity levels can be specifically adjusted, allowing you to set a level that is comfortable rather than the haphazard way that the air conditioner does it.
- The reservoir holding condensate is much larger, eliminating the chances of overflow.
- The system will reduce strain on your AC, allowing you to run it at a lower cost. Over time, that will help extend the length of your AC’s life, as well as reducing the risk of breakdowns and wear-and-tear issues.
If a dehumidifier sounds like a good fit for your Los Angeles, CA home, call on the pros at AZ Air Conditioning and Heating to help!