We’re getting spoiled. I can recall going into a cool home, seeing a window air conditioner and feeling how nice it was inside. No numbers on the knob; just ‘warmer – cooler’ and that was fine. As equipment became more sophisticated, we fiddled with whether 74 or 76 was just right.
Now we can go another step for more comfort with humidity control.
This is a practical system to install in your home for several reasons:
- Thermostats like the one pictured above are actually small wall-mounted computers. They measure the temperature like the old ones and also measure the humidity of the air. They also make control decisions on how to achieve the temperature and humidity set-points you select.
- Variable Speed Air Handlers use small programmed modules bolted on to the end of a motor to adjust the speed of the fan. Faster fans move more air and drop the temperature of the air faster. Slower fans move less air and get it much colder. Getting air colder condenses more water vapor from the air making the air in your home drier.
- Two-Speed Outdoor Units have the ability to change how much cooling or heating they deliver. Having an air conditioner that is too large is a common cause of a humid house. You experience this already in your home now. Every Spring and Fall your air conditioner is too large. Have you noticed that during those seasons you have to turn the thermostat down by 4 or 5 degrees to feel comfortable. It’s not your imagination. An air conditioner that is large enough for your home when it is 98 degrees and 90% relative humidity outside is much too large for your home when it is 80 degrees and night time; it won’t run long enough to remove moisture. Two-Speed Air Conditioners solve this problem. Those two thermostat pictures above were taken on a rainy day with an ambient temperature of 75 degrees. Inside the relative humidity is 50%. A single speed air conditioner will not achieve these results.
Why do you want one of these systems in your home? Comfort is one good reason. Drier air in the summer, no cold air blowing out of the vents during start-up in the winter. Another is your health. Maintaining the humidity below 55% will not allow mold growth in your home. That is something you learn over time when you own a system like this. But the first thing you notice is how quiet it is. A Two-Speed unit will spend almost all of its running hours on the low speed mode. At that speed it is nearly inaudible when running, inside and outside. Since it runs longer at lower speed, the temperature through the house is more even; the equipment is not turning on and off as often. Economy is another issue. These units are usually rated from 16 to 22 SEER. The will reduce the amount of electricity used.
Even if you select a single speed outdoor unit, a variable speed indoor unit has a built-in program that slowly ramps up the speed achieving a reduction in the humidity inside the home. For installations in a primary residence, this is the minimum level of quality that I recommend to my customers. Even if you select the least expensive outdoor unit, a variable speed air handler or furnace provides two decades of comfort at a very low daily cost. It is a luxury available to the common man that is worth the price.