2 New Air Conditioning Features Every Homeowner Should Know About (And Which One You Should Avoid)

14 December 2015
 Categories: , Articles


The minute your air conditioning system grinds to a halt, you might hop online to start researching all of the latest and greatest HVAC features. Although you might be tempted to order a top-of-the-line appliance that boasts convenient options, some of those features might not be better after all. Here are two new air conditioning features every homeowner should know about and which one you should avoid altogether:

1: Humidity Controls

If you are like most people, you might figure that cooling power is more important than humidity. However, the moisture content in the air can actually make a huge difference in how cool you feel and how hard your air conditioner has to work to make your place comfortable.

Your body cools itself by producing sweat, which is then dried by the air around you to cool your body's core temperature. Unfortunately, if the surrounding air is saturated with humidity, you stay moist longer, which keeps you warm. This basic scientific principle means that people tend to feel much hotter when the relative humidity is high and much cooler when the humidity level is low. In fact, an air temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit will feel like 69 degrees when the relative humidity level is at zero percent, but that same 75-degree space will feel like 80 degrees Fahrenheit if the relative humidity is at 100%.

To make it easier for homeowners to tweak their indoor temperature, some air conditioners contain a humidifier unit that users can adjust. These humidifier units contain a humidistat, which constantly monitors the relative humidity. If the system senses that the humidity levels are lower than the user setting, they will increase humidity by releasing water vapor into your home. However, if the humidity level is too high, the system will blow more air across the cooling coils, where the moisture in the air will collect and drip into a reservoir.

Because lowering the relative humidity level of your home will make the space feel cooler, you might even be able to reduce the load on your HVAC system without turning down that thermostat. Instead of running your air conditioner constantly to reach the optimal temperature, you can simply turn down the humidity to give your body a chance to use it's own cooling system—and you can save money on your monthly power bill at the same time. 

2: Self-Closing Vents

Why would you pay to cool rooms that you don't even use? To solve this seemingly inherent HVAC issue, some homeowners are drawn to new self-closing vents. These vents use motion detectors to determine whether or not rooms are being used, and if nobody is around, the system closes the vents in those areas. Although some people assume that closing vents would push more air towards the rooms that are being used, they can actually strain your entire system—which is why you should avoid this new feature altogether.

Believe it or not, your HVAC system is balanced to achieve optimal airflow throughout your entire house. If those vents close themselves, it could increase the air pressure inside of your duct lines, which could cause leaks. The extra air pressure inside of the lines can also cause carefully cooled air to push into wall voids or ceiling cavities, where it will be wasted.  Also, closed vents can increase the air pressure inside the closed-off space, which can make the air return system draw in outdoor air from cracks around doors and windows.

Instead of relying on an automated system to adjust your HVAC ventilation for you, work with a professional technician who specializes in hvac services if you have questions about the air balance of your home. If you feel like you are wasting energy or certain areas of your home are too cool, ask a professional to conduct an energy audit or evaluate your system balance.

By understanding the latest air conditioning system options, you might be able to select a unit that will keep your home cool and comfortable—without damaging your system.