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| Home Clutter The Organized Home Will running the air conditioner in my home prevent mold or other problems in hot, humid climates?
The Organized HomeWill running the air conditioner in my home prevent mold or other problems in hot, humid climates?
The press coverage mold regularly receives highlights a near-epidemic in air quality. Yet solutions abound. Learn how air conditioning can help remedy a moldy situation.
After months of paying high electricity bills I decided to purchase a stand alone air conditioner unit to place in my bedroom to see if it would possibly bring down the cost of monthly utility bill. My concern was the possible increased risk of mold in my house that might be created by keeping the air conditioner at a higher temperature given that I live in sunny, humid South Florida. I have known several people who after mold outbreaks in their home have had to vacate the house for months at a time, causing me concern at the possible risks of changing the temperature of my house.
There are four elements needed to create an optimal environment for mold growth: available mold spores, available mold food, appropriate temperatures and considerable moisture. The removal of any one of these items will prohibit mold growth. Mold is basically everywhere and so removing the availability of mold spores is impossible. Mold spores eat anything but especially love paper, wood and organic fibers; the main items found in a living environment so reducing their food source is highly unlikely. Regarding temperatures, mold grows in our refrigerators as well as hot tropical climates so finding a comfortable living environment that mold does not enjoy is practically impossible. Moisture level is the component that can best be controlled and so is the variable this article will focus on to control the spread of mold.
How then can we reduce or eliminate the possible risk of mold in our homes? This article is written concerning the climate found in South Florida and may not be applicable in other environments.
Air Conditioner Operation – Keep the air conditioner fan always set to “auto” instead of in the “on” position. When set to the “on” position the blower fan runs continuously and the moisture which has condensed on your air conditioner's evaporator coil during cooling is re-evaporated and blown back into your home before it can drain off the coil and out of your home. This causes the relative humidity in your home to be significantly greater than if the air conditioner thermostat fan mode switch is set to the “auto” position.
Air Conditioner Size - Air conditioner units are commonly oversized. The larger or more oversized the unit the poorer it will be able to remove humidity. This is because, during each air conditioning “on” cycle, the moisture removal does not reach full capacity for about the first three minutes of operation. The more the system is oversized, the shorter the on-cycle during which moisture is removed. A home that is properly sized with a 2-ton air conditioner however has a 4-ton system is installed, the greater the risk of humidity build up.
Thermostat Setting - Set the thermostat to the highest temperature that is comfortable for you. A temperature of 78 F or greater is recommended. Do not try to control humidity in your home via lowering thermostat as this will not work. Two things result from lowering the temperature in your home, first relative humidity increases when the temperature decreases. Second, lowering the temperature decreases the temperature of the materials in your walls, floors and ceilings of your home, thereby significantly increasing the potential for actual moisture condensation on these elements of your home. A side benefit of setting your thermostat at higher temperatures is that it significantly decreases cooling energy costs. This is exactly the news I was hoping to hear.
Some quick tips for maintaining comfortable living conditions and low cost solutions to the high cost of cooling:
Ceiling fans are one way to keep your homes temperature higher, stay comfortable and save money.
Mold in our homes can be a serious problem but as you have read, there are ways around this problem that are neither difficult nor costly to execute. The unfortunate reality however is that once you have a mold problem, it then becomes quite costly and difficult to correct.