Many homeowners in Oviedo, Florida only turn their air conditioners on when their homes feel stuffy and hot. However, modern AC equipment is built to do more than cool rooms down. If your central air conditioner or mini-split air conditioner has a “dry mode” setting, it’s important to learn how to use it. In dry mode, your air conditioner can extract excess moisture from the air without providing any cooling. If your home is already at a reasonable temperature but still humid, dry mode can increase your comfort without raising your home energy bill.

Running Your Air Conditioner When Your Home Is Already Cool

Air conditioners cool spaces down, regulate indoor humidity, and provide a modest amount of air filtration. During the hotter months of the year, homeowners enjoy all three of these benefits whenever their AC systems are on. When the outside temperatures fall and using your cooling system isn’t necessary all of the time, indoor moisture levels can still rise.

There are a number of reasons why cooler seasons can be just as humid as summer, if not more so. If it’s wet and humid outside, it’s virtually guaranteed to be humid indoors. Indoor humidity levels often rise just before a big rainstorm, especially if building residents open their windows and doors. There’s also the fact that during the cooler months, people complete more indoor cooking projects, take longer, hotter showers, and spend more time inside. All of these activities add moisture to the air.

Dry mode exists on air conditioners so that homeowners can continue regulating indoor humidity during the cool season without having to waste energy on cooling, and without subjecting themselves to overly cold indoor temperatures. If you’ve got foggy or condensation-covered windows, or if your indoor air feels heavy, you can turn your air conditioner on and set it to dry mode for relief.

How Dry Mode Works

In dry mode, your air conditioner will work much like it does in standard cooling mode. You’ll hear the same faint sounds of operation, and you’ll feel a steady stream of cool air coming out of your air registers or HVAC air vents. However, this air won’t have the frosty temperature that conditioned air does.

During a normal cooling cycle, your air conditioner extracts warm air from the building interior. This air moves across the air conditioner’s evaporator coil. The refrigerant inside of this coil absorbs the air’s heat and makes it nice and cold. As the air continues to move through the AC system, excess moisture is collected as condensation and routed out via the AC condensate line and condensate drain.

In dry mode, the entire process works much the same. However, when the extracted air is passed over the evaporator coil, it isn’t coming in contact with any AC refrigerant. As a result, no heat is removed. More importantly, your air conditioner isn’t using any additional energy to pump refrigerant throughout the system. When the extracted air is returned to your living environment via your AC system’s air registers or vents, it will be noticeably drier, but about the same temperature that it was when extracted.

Using your air conditioner in dry mode when you only want humidity control saves energy. It also spares building residents the discomfort of being overly cold. If you attempt to use your air conditioner in standard cooling mode when you only want humidity extraction, you’ll likely have to set a temperature at the thermostat that’s far cooler than you’re used to.

What Dry Mode Can and Cannot Do

Dry mode provides the normal level of dehumidification that you get when your air conditioner is on in standard cooling mode. Dry mode does not temporarily turn your air conditioner into a dehumidifier. In fact, homeowners are advised against using this AC setting for too long. You should only use dry mode for just one to two hours at a time. Letting your air conditioner run indefinitely while in dry mode can leave you with excessively dry indoor air. This can lead to sneezing, dry eyes, dry skin, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

Does Your Home Need Additional Dehumidification?

Having a home that’s always overly moist is a problem. It’s important to have balanced humidity levels all of the time. If your home is excessively moist even when your air conditioner is running in standard cooling mode, this is an indication that you may need a secondary form of humidity regulation. This is also true if you run your air conditioner in dry mode for two full hours and still have damp, heavy indoor air.

Larger households are more prone to humidity issues than smaller ones. Having more people moving around in your living environment and engaging in moisture-producing activities, such as cooking and bathing, creates more humidity than either a central air conditioner or a ductless mini-split AC can handle on its own. In these and other instances, it’s often best to have a whole-house dehumidifier installed.

Maintaining balanced humidity inside of your home minimizes the risk of mold and mildew development. It also prevents a number of common indoor air quality issues. Balanced humidity creates a healthier and more enjoyable living environment all around.

The causes and solutions for excess humidity are different for every environment. In your home, the solution may be as simple as running your air conditioner in dry mode. In other instances, needs-specific adjustments should be made to the air conditioner’s fan, or secondary dehumidification equipment is required. Scheduling a consultation appointment with a trusted HVAC company is the only way to know for sure why your home’s humidity levels are too high.

Highly Efficient Homes Have a Tendency to Get Muggy

Excess humidity can also be the result of having a highly efficient home. Everything that you do to conserve energy waste and prevent air loss creates a tight home envelope. As you upgrade to multi-pane windows, add more insulation and weatherstripping, and seal up air leaks, you are increasingly limiting your home’s cooling demand. Naturally efficient homes don’t need their air conditioners to run all of the time. They are easy to cool and they have a tendency to stay that way.

Having fewer cooling cycles on hot, humid days, and having shorter cooling cycles overall, doesn’t give your air conditioner much time to extract excess humidity. If your home is well-insulated and well-sealed, and if it has a tendency to feel muggy or clammy at its interior, try running your air conditioner in dry mode for one to two hours each day. You can also have an HVAC technician assess the speed of your air conditioner’s fan. In some instances, lowering the AC fan speed will extend the length of cooling cycles and allow for better humidity regulation.

Since 1986, American Air, Plumbing & Electric has been proudly serving residents of Oviedo, Florida and the surrounding area. We provide reliable heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repairs. We additionally offer duct cleaning, ductless systems, and indoor air quality control. If you have high levels of humidity in your home, we can help. Give us a call today.

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