It’s a fact of life: Nearly every home, especially those located in warm regions of the United States, are equipped with central air conditioning. Though many people believe that these systems just cool their homes down, these systems actually do much more. While cooling your living space, air “conditioners” also dry it out. By reducing the humidity, these devices make our homes more comfortable, and easier to cool. They also ensure healthy living and reduce moisture damage to rooms.
By keeping a moist interior, you’re providing the optimal space for fungi and bacteria to grow, which compromises the air quality within your home. Poor air quality can result in serious issues for residents, such as sleep apnea, asthma, and upper respiratory infections. This doesn’t include the wheezing, sneezing and coughing that occurs when we breath air that irritates our lungs.
Air conditioners work by removing two different forms of heat: The heat we feel as air temperature, and the heat that comes from excess moisture in the air. The problem happens in the in-between seasons, when only dehumidification is needed, and not cooling. The result is that the air conditioner struggles to dry the air without also overly cooling it.
The only solid solution to this problem is to separate the air conditioning cooling system from the dehumidification during seasons that don’t involve high heat. Homes are getting better at keeping out heat and maintaining a stable interior. It’s important to honor this by using a system that’s only doing what you need it to do—dehumidify.
Some people believe that simply introducing a dehumidifier into the house is just a band aid. However, if you seal the house completely and effectively, and are bringing in fresh air, all you’ll need is a dehumidifier to keep moisture levels low without cooling the house too much.
Though vendors have begun to provide equipment that cools the air enough to dry it before reheating it for circulation, there’s no company that provides both the cooling and dehumidification equipment needed to work in a residential unit during temperate seasons. The only solution is for designers and contractors to piece together equipment from different companies in order to manage the situation in the home.
The popular solution to this problem is to team up the central air conditioner with a dehumidifier and an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) for fresh air. During hotter seasons, the air conditioner would be enough to both cool the home and remove extra moisture from the air. The ERV is useful all year, especially when teamed with a dehumidifier, which can make up for anything the other equipment can’t cover.
Though there’s no flawless solution, homeowners will want to find the perfect balance between keeping their home the ideal temperature without compromising on the quality of the air they breathe because of excess moisture, or by only having a comfortable living space part of the year. Working with a professional will ensure that you have the best combination of equipment to make your home healthy and comfortable.