Humidity: bad for hair and energy bills

Normally when we think of humidity, we think bad hair day or about extra starch for that linen guayabera. However, few consider its impact on energy bills, especially during the dog days of summer.

Little known fact–the two main reasons the air conditioner was created in the early 1900s were to lower the temperature AND the humidity. Today’s air conditioner is designed to not only cool, filter and circulate air but also remove humidity.

Wondering about the humidity in your home? A few common signs that there may be high indoor humidity include:

  • Air feels moist
  • Clammy skin
  • Windows fog up
  • Musty odor

The higher the humidity content in your home, the longer your A/C unit will run…costing you more. You may have noticed the results on your May or June bill.

“We had unusually high dew points during May and June because of the rains. We’re normally around 72 but we got as high as 77. The higher dew points made temperatures that were around 88 degrees feel like it was 95 to 99 degrees so it increased the heat index,” said Cory Van Pelt with the Austin/San Antonio office of the National Weather Service.

San Antonio Fire Department spokesman Christian Bove commented about the effects of humidity for heat exposure response calls. “We saw about 20 more calls in June than we did last year.”

SAFD Heat Response Calls
Heat Response Calls June 2014 vs. June 2015 Source: SAFD

So, with humidity being a problem, what can be done about it inside your home to increase comfort levels and help steady the bill?

Often, people believe a larger A/C unit is the answer – not necessarily. The larger A/C unit will cool your home relatively quickly but will not run long enough to remove moisture from the air, making your home feel warmer than it actually is.

The logical next step is to lower the temperature setting, right?  You can, but know that you’ll pay more only to inefficiently cool your home.  An alternative is to use the Cool to Dry function on a Nest Learning Thermostat. We offer a rebate if you don’t have one of these sleek devices yet.

Or, you could install a dehumidifier on your HVAC system. It’s an added expense, but may be a worthwhile investment in the long run.

Looking for more energy saving tips? See our post on minimizing summer’s heat impact on your bill.

Christine Patmon

Christine is part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.

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