If you’ve just had a new air conditioner installed in your Miami, Florida home, you may be wondering how to use all of its innovative features and functions. In this humid, coastal environment, many central AC units and ductless air conditioners have a dry mode setting. This setting is often marked with a water drop icon. Turning it on can give you a drier, fresher-smelling, and more comfortable home overall. Read on to learn more about when and why to use it.
What Dry Mode Does
It’s not uncommon for Florida homes to feel cool but still humid. With high humidity levels just outside, building interiors often feel muggy. However, when it’s hot and muggy, you can get relief by simply turning your air conditioner on. Modern air conditioners regulate both indoor temperatures and indoor humidity at once. As they cool air, they also extract excess moisture and route it out of buildings via their condensate drain lines.
Central AC usually does a good job controlling moisture when the outdoor humidity level is moderate or low. But when the humidity is high, you may have to turn your AC temperature so low to keep the moisture in check that you’ll want to wear a jacket indoors.
Dry mode allows you to remove moisture from the air without subjecting yourself to frigid temperatures and wasting related energy. In dry mode, air conditioners draw air in, remove its moisture, and then redistribute it. Thus, air that gets cycled through AC units isn’t exposed to the refrigerant. When it exits the system, it’s the same temperature as when it went in.
However, if you place your hand near your HVAC air vents or wall-mounted air registers during the dry mode, you may find that the air out of them feels slightly cooler. This is because dry air tends to feel cooler than moist air. Even after running your air conditioner in dry mode for a full hour, the temperature at your thermostat won’t change. Choosing to run your AC unit in dry mode from time to time may even lower your home energy bill.
The Benefits of Using Dry Mode on Your New AC
Dry mode is designed to keep building residents from feeling cold and clammy. Even when your living space is at a reasonable temperature, you can still feel uncomfortable if there is too much moisture in the air. Using dry mode promotes relief while using less energy than the standard cooling cycle. It also subjects your AC equipment to less wear.
Using dry mode is also beneficial for your home. During the heat of summer when your air conditioner is always on, you aren’t likely to have problems with excess humidity. By regulating indoor humidity, modern air conditioners keep problems like mold and mildew at bay.
When the outside temperatures lower and you no longer need your AC system to run continuously for relief, you may start noticing condensation on your windows. You may also notice a damp, moldering odor throughout your home and items may feel wet to the touch. Too much humidity can wreak havoc on buildings. Using dry mode reduces the risk of moisture-related damage. It can also protect and improve indoor air quality (IAQ) during the cool season.
The Best Times to Use the Dry Mode Setting
You should set your air conditioner to dry mode any time your home is cool but has extra moisture that keeps you from feeling comfortable. Having skin that’s cold and clammy to the touch is a good indication that you need the humidity extraction that dry mode provides.
Using dry mode is also good when engaging in indoor activities. For instance, dry mode will keep your indoor humidity levels balanced if you choose to get a good workout in while the doors are closed and the windows are sealed shut. In fact, whenever you have a lot of people moving around in your living space, running dry mode for 30 to 40 minutes can help.
This setting can also offset the humidity gains from hot showers, baths, and large cooking projects. Use dry mode whenever you see fog or steam on your windows or when the indoor air feels heavy and oppressive. This setting is perfect for autumn when indoor moisture tends to be at its highest.
The IAQ Benefits of Using Dry Mode
Any time that air is cycled through your air conditioner, it passes through its filter. This filter exists to remove airborne particulates that might coat your AC unit’s interior components and cause it to overheat. However, it also provides indoor air quality benefits. Depending on the filter’s rating, it may capture things like:
- Pet hair
During autumn and spring, many Florida households don’t use their HVAC systems at all. As a result, these and other particulates tend to build up in the indoor air. This is especially problematic in spring when local pollen counts are high. Running the AC in dry mode from time to time can help. When the filter is clean and working effectively, everyone in the home can breathe a bit easier.
Taking Care of Your Air Conditioner During the Cool Season
Most people remember to check and change their AC filters during summer. However, given AC use is far less during the rest of the year, it’s often easy to overlook this component. If you use your air conditioner during the cooler weeks and months of the year for filtration and humidity regulation, you should check its filter during these times too.
Limiting Dry Mode Use
It’s important to limit how often you use the dry mode setting on your air conditioner and how long you keep it on. Dry mode doesn’t extract 100 percent of the humidity from your indoor air, and it shouldn’t. Every home needs a moderate amount of indoor moisture. Having too little moisture in your home will allow dust mites to flourish, and it can also cause symptoms like:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Dry skin and lips
Most HVAC companies suggest limiting the use of dry mode to just one hour at a time. This remains true even if you rely on this setting during the cooler months for air filtration.
If you have humidity issues that exceed the capabilities of your air conditioner, you should consider having a whole-house dehumidifier put in. If your indoor air quality is consistently low, you can also talk with your HVAC technician about air purification or advanced air filtration solutions. Dry mode isn’t meant to replace targeted, long-term IAQ and humidity control measures. Regardless of how you run your AC unit, it’s essential to have your system regularly scheduled for a professional AC tune-up service.
Quality Air Of America proudly serves residents of Miami, Florida and the surrounding areas. We offer air conditioning and heating installation, maintenance, and repair services. Our clients can also turn to us for indoor air quality control, dryer vent cleaning, and attic insulation. Give us a call today for more information or to set up an appointment!