Is your home stuffy and warm even with the A/C running full blast? Your central air conditioner’s primary role is to cool your home (obviously) but it also has an important secondary function: to extract moisture from the air. However, when conditions are excessively humid, your A/C could use an assist.

Enter the whole-house dehumidifier. Units such as the Aprilaire 1830 and 1850 work in conjunction with your HVAC system to remove excess water vapor and deliver drier air. In doing this, the dehumidifier also reduces the burden on your air conditioner, helping it operate more efficiently and lowering your cooling costs.

What Should My Home’s Indoor Humidity Level Be?

When we talk about indoor humidity, we’re talking about relative humidity. That’s the ratio of water vapor present in the air to the most water vapor the air can hold. For example, if your indoor air quality has a relative humidity of 40 percent, that means the air is holding 40 percent of the maximum amount it can contain. This has a direct impact on our comfort. You’ve likely heard it said, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” That’s because the rate at which moisture evaporates from our bodies has a lot to do with feeling warm or cool. In a humid environment, evaporation from our skin happens very slowly, making it difficult to cool down.

A dehumidifier is going to keep your home within the optimal 30-50 percent range, preserving your comfort.

How Can I Tell If My Home Is Too Humid?

Use a hygrometer to gauge the relative humidity inside your home. Hygrometers are like thermometers for measuring water vapor. Otherwise, you should watch out for these red flags:

  • Condensation on walls and windows
  • Mold and mildew
  • Dark spots or discoloration on walls and ceilings
  • Peeling wallpaper
  • Swollen drywall

Why Is My Home So Humid?

Several factors could be raising your indoor air’s relative humidity.

  • Your air conditioner is too large: An oversized air conditioner cools your home in short, inefficient bursts. You A/C needs to run for longer cycles so that the evaporator coil can pull moisture out of the air. Consider having your cooling equipment inspected to determine if it is sized appropriately for your home.
  • The climate is humid: Your air conditioner has its work cut out for it in muggy Minnesota. Hot, heavy air can seep through exterior doors and windows. Ensure your home is well sealed to keep hot air out and cool air in.
  • Compromised vapor barriers: Your home was likely constructed with a vapor barrier to keep moisture outside. However, this material can fail eventually. If this is the case, consider installing a dehumidifier specifically designed for removing moisture from sealed crawlspaces or basements.
  • Increased activity inside: If your home has more people than usual, you can expect the humidity to rise. Likewise, cooking, showering and running the dishwasher will spike moisture levels.

Should I Get a Portable or Whole-Home Dehumidifier?

While several circumstances can cause your air to feel sticky and stuffy, there’s really only one solution: a dehumidifier. But which type of dehumidifier is best for your home: a portable unit or whole-house model?

If you want consistent comfort throughout your house, an installed unit like the Aprilaire 1830 is the way to go. That’s because it works alongside your central cooling equipment to distribute dry air to every room. While a portable unit may be less expensive, its capacity will be limited. That means you’ll need one in each room, which will drive up your electricity bill.

Whole-house dehumidifiers also work automatically and can be operated with a remote humidistat as needed.

Ready to improve your comfort? Contact the team at Northern’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning to learn more about the benefits of installing a whole-home dehumidifier.