How to Combat Summer Heat & Humidity

“Hot enough for you?”

It seems like that greeting is more common that “Hello!” during the hot, humid summer days we are currently experiencing. The sticky conditions are not just uncomfortable, but can also promote the growth of mold and mildew in your home. The good news is that there are ways to fight the heat and humidity, while also helping to keep your home free of unhealthy growth.

According to Energy Star, “high humidity can lead to mold, mildew, or other biological growth. Depending on the severity, conditions can lead to rot, structural damage, premature paint failure, and a variety of health problems.” But the cool and comfortable indoor temperatures that people enjoy can also be an environment that promotes the growth of biologicals like mold and mildew.

Clearly it is in your best interest to keep mold and mildew at bay by following smart cooling practices. It is more important to control the moisture level (relative humidity) than the temperature of the air in your home. Here are some tips:

  • Install the right size cooling system. In many cases, air conditioning systems are oversized. The larger and more oversized the unit is, the less effective it will be at removing humidity. During each air conditioning cooling cycle, moisture removal does not reach full effective capacity until after the first three minutes of operation. A system that is too large can reduce temperatures quickly, but has a shorter cooling time for the removal of interior humidity. That’s what makes the new ductless cooling units so effective – they are perfect for cooling a single room or section of a home at a time.
  • Keep the air conditioner fan switch set to “auto” mode instead of “on” mode. When set to the “on” position the blower fan runs continuously and the moisture which has condensed on the evaporator coil during the cooling cycle is re-evaporated and blown back into the home before it has a chance to drain from the coil and be expelled from your home. This will cause the relative humidity in your home to be much higher than using the “auto” mode.
  • Don’t lower the thermostat to fight mold and mildew. Lowering the temperature decreases the temperature of the walls, floors and ceilings of the home, which increases the potential for actual moisture condensation on these items. Instead, keep the temperature at a comfortable – not chilly – level. This can also help decrease your cooling costs.
  • Have a professional heating and cooling contractor check your system to make sure it is sized right and functioning properly to remove humidity. If your cooling system is too big or the airflow incorrect, it may not remove humidity efficiently. The contractor should also check your duct system for air leaks and air flow to each room.

By the way, drastically lowering the thermostat is NOT an effective way to “hurry up” the cooling of a hot room, and can actually damage your air conditioning system. Most air conditioners are designed to provide a 20-degree differential in temperature from outside conditions. Trying to cool a room below that level can result in a “freeze up” of your air conditioner. If you want to cool off an overly hot room, try setting the air conditioner thermostat to 72-degrees, and give it a little time to work.

The cooling professionals at Alvin Hollis would be happy to discuss smart cooling practices and corrective options with you.  Call us at (781) 335-2100 to explore which of our air conditioning options is right for your home and budget.