The mercury is starting to climb in many parts of the country, and within a few weeks, it’ll be time for the air conditioners to come on. There’s much you can do to improve your air quality and reduce your reliance on your AC, including keeping your ducts clean and utilizing ceiling fans.  One other thing you can do is install a dehumidifier, which could allow you to set your thermostat higher but still stay comfortable. Here’s how.

How Your Air Conditioner Works

Many homeowners mistakenly believe that an air conditioner works by pumping refrigerated air into their homes. While this is true to a degree, it’s important to understand how refrigeration actually works. The goal is not to pump cold air into your home; rather, the goal is to remove hot and humid air. To do this, your air conditioner passes hot, moist air in your home over coils that have been cooled with refrigerant. This causes the moisture to condense and passes the moisture down the drain and the heat from the inside of your home to the outside. When you lower the relative humidity inside your home, you also change the way the air “feels”.

How Does Relative Humidity Affect Your Comfort?

Relative humidity is the measurement of moisture in the air relative to the amount of moisture the air could hold at its current temperature. For example, if the relative humidity in your home right now is 60%, that means the air is currently holding onto 60% of the maximum moisture it can hold at the current temperature. During the summer months, keeping the air inside your home at about 30% humidity will undoubtedly help you feel cooler. This works for two different reasons.

First, when the air is already saturated with moisture, it cannot evaporate more moisture – including moisture from your skin. Remember that evaporation of sweat is what helps to keep you cool, even when you aren’t aware you’re sweating. The drier the air, the better it can help cool you down without the need for AC. Second, moist air can retain more heat than dry air, which makes it feel uncomfortable.

Installing a Dehumidifier

If you’re interested in learning more about a dehumidifier, you can opt for a whole-home dehumidifier that is centrally-located and processes all of the air in your home. This will do the best possible job of reaching and maintaining your desired level of humidity. Conversely, if you would rather save money, you can purchase room-size dehumidifiers that process air in one room only. By placing these in the most important rooms, such as the kitchen, sitting area, and bedrooms, you can keep them far more comfortable even if the temperature on the thermostat is a few degrees higher than normal.

As you can see, dehumidification can play a very important role in your comfort, and when you can keep your humidity levels just right, you can even save money by setting your thermostat higher without sacrificing your comfort. Dehumidifiers come in various price ranges, so be sure to do a little research to determine what may work best for your household.