Increasingly, Hoover recommends two-stage air conditioners that adjust to the current air temperature to maximize dehumidification. “An air conditioner is a very good dehumidifier, if it’s sized right and if it’s two-speed,” Hoover says.
Jeff Johnson of Shumate Air Conditioning & Heating in Duluth, Georgia, says a variable-speed A/C works most efficiently when paired with a combination thermostat/humidistat, which displays and controls both the temperature and humidity level. “To lower the humidity, the thermostat will tell the blower to slow down, causing the coil to get colder and thus pulling more moisture out of the air,” he says.
Some new models and smart thermostats even allow users to monitor and adjust settings from their smartphones or computers, he says. These combined with variable-speed blowers have become more popular options as prices decreased in recent years.
The average single-speed system costs about $6,000, and a variable-speed system will be more efficient, but cost about $1,000 more, he says.
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For homes that need more, such as those near bodies of water, whole-house dehumidifiers are an add-on option. Hoover says they range from about $2,200 to $4,800 depending on capacity, but cautions the downside is it means another piece of equipment to maintain.
Both HVAC companies also find leaky air ducts contribute to high humidity in the Atlanta region, which makes Georgia’s hot summer days seem even hotter. Leaks let cool air escape into the attic or crawl space. That air loss creates negative pressure inside, causing it to suck in humid air through cracks. This is especially problematic if the crawl space isn’t encapsulated, because it pulls the moist air touching the ground below, says Hoover. He recommends asking for air duct testing and sealing when you have your air conditioning system serviced before summer.
How do you deal with summer humidity? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on May 3, 2013.