It’s already tough to get cool during hot summer days, but when you add humidity to the mix it becomes nearly impossible. Fortunately, you can take steps in combination with your air conditioning system to cut down on humidity in your home and keep it an oasis of cool in the midst of summer.
What is humidity?
Humidity is the amount of moisture or water vapor in the air. High humidity makes heat feel much hotter because it reduces your body’s natural ability to cool itself. When there’s high moisture content in the air, moisture evaporates less quickly from your skin, slowing down your natural cooling processes.
Keeping humidity out
Your air conditioning system takes humidity out of the air in your home when it’s running, but any assistance you can give it will help reduce the overall humidity and keep it from working overtime, cutting down on your energy bills.
One of the best ways to keep humidity from entering your home in the summer is to keep the doors and windows tightly closed. You don’t want to waste energy cooling the entire neighborhood, so when your AC is running you should always have all windows and doors in the house closed. You should also keep them closed while you’re gone during the day, even if you turn the AC off. Keeping your house sealed will prevent humid air from filtering in while you’re gone, making it easier to cool the space upon on your return.
If you haven’t updated your insulation or had a home energy audit lately, you may also want to consider investing in some upgrades. Cool air can escape through cracks around windows and doors or through a poorly insulated attic, while humid air can sneak in through the same spaces. A home energy audit will find any leaks and determine whether your insulation is performing the way it should be. Sealing off those leaks or upgrading your insulation can go a long way toward keeping humidity out and trapping the cool air in.
Reducing humidity inside your home
In addition to keeping humid air from entering your home, you can take steps to reduce the amount of moisture you’re creating from inside the house.
- Ventilate bathrooms, kitchens and laundry. Always turn on ventilation fans when you shower or if you are cooking to expel the humid air outside the house. Showering, doing laundry and cooking can all lead to increased moisture in the air without proper ventilation. If you don’t have fans, you should consider installing them. If it’s a dry day, you can also open a window slightly to let the moist air out, but don’t use this method if your AC is on or it’s humid out.
- Use a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers are particularly useful additions to your home in rooms that don’t have air conditioning or that usually have a higher level of moisture in the air. Basements, bathrooms and laundry rooms are all prime locations for a dehumidifier to keep dampness from building up and to assist your AC.
- Move firewood and plants outside. Firewood and house plants both release moisture into the air, so it’s best to keep them outside if you’re having problems with humidity in your home.
- Cover pots and pans while cooking. Covering pots on the stove, particularly when filled with boiling water, will reduce the amount of moisture escaping into the air. You can also prepare more cool foods or use a slow-cooker instead of the oven or stove to cut down on moisture release.
- Hang clothes outside to dry. If you typically hang-dry your laundry, be sure to hang the clothes outside to dry instead of inside your home. The moisture evaporating from the clothing goes directly into the air and can greatly increase your home’s humidity levels.
- Limit your showers. Taking cooler, shorter showers helps reduce the amount of moisture evaporating into the air and increasing the humidity.
Keeping the humidity down in your home will go a long way toward keeping you cool in the hot summer months, whether your AC is running or not. With lower humidity in your home, it’s easier for your AC to keep you feeling cool, leading to better energy efficiency and savings on your energy bills.