With the first of the shoulder seasons of the year upon us – EcoSmart Solution is here to provide some general tips and tricks for how to maintain a comfortable home.
A shoulder season (late spring/early fall) is when the heating and cooling loads of a home are both very low. Central and South Texas shoulder seasons tend to also bring about a fair amount of inclement weather. This may mean that homeowners could experience significant increases in home humidity levels. Good thing there are some methods to mitigate this. You may already do some of these tricks, some others may contradict traditional thinking!
One quick note before we begin: everyone has a different level and perception of comfort! What works for one may not be comfortable for another.
Run your Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP)
Ground Source Heat Pumps thrive with consistent usage like a marathon runner while a traditional HVAC is much more like a short distance sprinter. You may believe that you’re saving electricity by turning your unit off completely, but the cooling function of your heat pump is what causes dehumidification. Air moisture is condensed and removed by having the humid air pushed over the cold coil of the unit. The more time the air can mingle with the coil – the more humidity is dealt with.
Very cold climates may need humidifiers because very cold air is extremely dry, whereas hot climates near any type of water source are typically extremely humid. When a home with a tightly sealed envelope (such as ours) is infiltrated with moisture, it retains that moisture unless air conditioned. Imagine jogging on a rainy day in a water-proof jacket, the rain stops, and the sun comes out. That material is going to repel the water outside, but it’s going to also retain the moisture inside. A more breathable material, like cotton, allows moisture to evaporate. That’s the equivalent of our tightly sealed homes which save energy, but do not eliminate the build-up of humidity on their own.
Turn on the Cool-To-Dry NEST function
The Cool-To-Dry function can only function when the A/C unit is cooling. What this function does is it sets a slower speed on the fan inside of the unit. This allows the air to have more time to blow over the cold coils. Then, therefore, increases the opportunity to dehumidify. Speaking of NEST…
Set a NEST schedule to cool when you’re not home
Much like increasing the temperature as to not run the unit when the home is unoccupied during the summer, you can utilize the same function during the shoulder months to dehumidify while you’re away. This might seem counter-intuitive but trust us. You’re unlikely to see any significant energy consumption for extended periods of time thanks to the efficiency of the GSHP and the solar generation.
Keep windows closed, but blinds and shades open.
Opening windows when it’s cool outside is something that folks do because it seems like the energy efficient thing to do. This may even be true for homes that have less-tightly sealed envelopes and traditional HVACs. However, our homes are not like this and by doing so, excess moisture can infiltrate into the home and stay there. This ends up causing the Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) to work harder and for much longer to dehumidify the built-up moisture in the environment versus running the unit for periods of time throughout the day. Leaving the blinds/shades open allows heat to enter your home. This leads to the GSHP running in cooling mode without the discomfort of being too cold. One note on this: this works if it’s cool – we don’t want too much heat gain when it’s very hot!
Close your garages – especially single-story homes!
This is the equivalent of leaving several windows and your front door open all at once. Hot air carries moisture and rises, and when that comes into the garage, it’s going directly into your attic – one of the most insulated areas of your home! Once the moisture has built up inside of the attic, it takes a great effort to remove it again.
Run exhaust fans
Run exhaust fumes when doing anything in the home that would expel moisture into the environment. This includes every day tasks such as cooking, washing dishes and clothes, or taking hot showers.
Now Enjoy Your Comfortable Home!
This information might seem like a paradigm shift from “traditional” practices, and frankly, that’s exactly what it is. EcoSmart Solution strives to empower its community with as much knowledge as possible. This way we can collectively be better and do better as a whole. By making geothermal systems practical, affordable, and comfortable while reducing our impact on our environment – we hope to change the standard to which residential development is held.